For those of you who felt the jostling crowds spoilt your first visit to the Taj Mahal, this will surely come as good news. The Archaeological Survey of India has agreed to restrict the number of tourists visiting the monument’s main mausoleum in order to conserve the ambience of one of the seven wonders of the world.
The ASI has also mooted the idea of introducing a radio frequency identification device (RFID) in the tickets to keep track of tourists who spend time inside the Taj complex. This is for security reasons. In response to the suggestions placed before the special environment bench of the Supreme Court by amicus curae Kishan Mahajan, the ASI has sought time to conduct a “scientific study” to arrive at the exact number of visitors who should be allowed inside the mausoleum. “To work out the figure… it is very essential to carry out a study with regard to the carrying capacity of the Taj Mahal, by taking into account parameters like tourist inflow, security, conservation and ambience,” the ASI’s affidavit read.
The agency is considering involving national and international experts of different disciplines for the study, based on the advice of various organizations like UNESCO. As suggested by Mahajan, the ASI also agreed to implement the e-ticketing system. The special bench granted it two weeks to inform the court how much time it would take to complete the survey. The bench will hear the matter on August 20.
According to the ASI, more than 25 lakh tickets were sold in 2006; the monument saw 20 lakh Indian visitors and 4.90 lakh foreign tourists. In the first six months of 2007, about 13.38 lakh tourists — 10.63 lakh Indians and 2.74 lakh foreigners — visited the Taj.