India limits visitors to save Taj Mahal

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AGRA, India: India will restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal in an attempt to preserve the iconic 17th-century monument, its biggest tourist attraction. Only 40,000 local tourists will be allowed to enter the historic complex per day, authorities said Wednesday. The restrictions will not apply to foreigners, who pay 1,000 rupees ($16) to enter. Indian visitors normally pay just 40 rupees, but will be able to buy the more expensive ticket if they want to get around the limit. Anyone wanting to see the main crypt, which houses the couple’s spectacular marble graves inlaid with semi-precious stones, will also have to pay for the pricier ticket. Daily visitor numbers to the Taj Mahal average 10,000-15,000 but can be much higher at weekends, going up to around 70,000. Nearly 6.5 million visited the monument in 2016, according to government figures. Experts say the vast crowds increase wear and tear on the white marble tomb, which already must undergo regular cleaning to stop it turning yellow from polluted air, and could put pressure on its foundations. The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.

AFP

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