It is Valentine's eve and the government's latest announcement may not really be music to lovers' ears. Come April 1st, visitors to Taj Mahal, also known as the monument of love will have to shell out more for enjoying the beauty of the white marble monument. The entry fee to Taj has been increased to Rs 50 from earlier Rs 40. Those willing to go inside the main mausoleum will have to spend Rs 250 extra, culture minister Mahesh Sharma informed today.
"We want to preserve Taj Mahal for future generations. Conservation research on this aspect was going on in several institutes and one of the institutes, NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) has suggested that number of people inside the main mausoleum needs to be regulated. I had a meeting with all the stakeholders and for now it has been decided not to cap the number of people,” said Sharma.
Besides, visitors will not be allowed to spend an entire day inside the premises. The maximum time allowed is three hours, beyond which they will be charged.
In a bid to give a seamless travel experience to tourists, especially international tourists, the government is planning to build a corridor from airport to Taj Mahal. There is also a plan to build a night life tourism centre on the 20 hectares land adjacent to Yamuna in Agra.
The minister further informed that a Kumbh museum is coming up in Allahabad, a Ram Experience Centre in Ayodhya and another museum on Gorakhnath at Gorakhpur. The ministry is also working on a museum for Subash Chandra Bose and an exhibition centre for him at IGNCA.
"We believe that Subhash Chandra Bose has not received the kind of importance that he should have and that's why we have decided to build a museum for him," said the minister.
The budget allocation for the Ministry of Culture has been increased by about 4 per cent in 2018-19. The culture minister explained that a massive exercise has been taken up by Culture Ministry such as 100 Adarsh Monuments, e-ticketing facility for all ticketed Monuments, Cultural Mapping of India, Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav, Ganga Mahotsav, 8th Theatre Olympiad, Festival of India aboard and Digitisation to popularize Indian culture especially among the youth.
The budget had proposed developing ten prominent tourist sites into Iconic Tourism destinations by building world class amenities. These sites are – Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, Agra (U.P), Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutb Minar and Purana Qila (Delhi), Khajuraho group of temples (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi group of monuments (Karnataka), Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Sun Temple, Konark (Odisha) and Golkonda Fort, Hyderabad (Telangana).
Besides, conservation work and improvement in amenities is already underway at Lal Quila, Purana Qila and Qutb Minar in partnership with private players. Interglobe, the parent company behind Indigo airlines, is working on Lal Quila and Yatra.com is working on Qutb Minar.
Sharma also gave details about the scheme of cultural mapping which is being implemented with an outlay of Rs 490 crores over the next three years in 622 Districts. In this, all the artists in every corner of the country are being registered on the central portal; and through a competitive process they will be divided into various categories.
This will not only help provide assistance to these artists but will also help to preserve those arts and crafts which are on the verge of becoming instinct. Nearly one crore such artists have already registered with the portal, Sharma explained.