NEW DELHI — Tourists may now have to pay an additional Rs. 10 to see the Taj Mahal, as the government has proposed to increase the entry fee to Rs. 50 from Rs. 40 and introduce an additional fee of Rs. 200 to visit the main mausoleum, a union minister said Feb. 13.
The fee hike, which is likely to be implemented in April, will be applicable to domestic visitors only and not foreign tourists, said Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma at a press conference here.
"We don't intend to increase or add revenue to our kitty from the entry fee hike. But the restoration work has to continue for protecting the monument... The step aims to ensure protection of the built fabric and better crowd management," Sharma said.
The ministry has also proposed limiting visitors' stays on the Taj premises to three hours to prevent crowding, based on a recommendation from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute that said footfall must be controlled to protect the integrity of the Taj Mahal.
To prevent the misuse of tickets, the new tickets will have bar codes, he said.
"We will also have a special ticket of Rs. 200 for entry to the main mausoleum, apart from the normal entry ticket... The restriction is to ensure that only those who are genuinely interested enter the premises," Sharma stated.
The minister also said that "High Value Tickets" have been proposed for tourists to the Taj Mahal. For foreign visitors the price would be set at Rs. 1,250 and for domestic visitors, it would be Rs. 400.
Apart from the 400 tickets that are currently sold for night visits to the Taj, the ministry is planning to open Mehtab Bagh for evening visits, so that a larger number of tourists are able to enjoy its beauty at night.
The minister said that the Tourism Ministry, Agra Development Authority and the local police have also joined hands to tackle the "lapka culture" (touts harassing visitors) and such conduct would be considered a crime.
"Strict action will be taken against people involved in such activity. The step is to ensure safety of women visitors, especially foreign tourists, as many cases have been reported where guides have tried to misbehave with them," he pointed out.