Taj almost deserted as Agra sizzles
Tourists are having a tough time venturing out of their hotels to visit the Taj or other monuments, which have turned into cauldrons.india Updated: Jun 09, 2007 18:14 IST
Streets in Agra wore a deserted look on Saturday and the Taj Mahal and other monuments received few visitors as blistering hot winds swept the city.
Tourists are having a tough time venturing out of their hotels to visit the Taj Mahal or other Mughal monuments, which have turned into virtual cauldrons. The maximum temperature recorded here on Friday was 45.6 degrees Celsius.
"Within an hour, I have gulped down three bottles of mineral water," said an American tourist visiting the Agra Fort.
"The tongas and camel driven buggies are desperately looking for tourists who are avoiding the monuments in the afternoon," said one travel agent. Even in the evenings, Agra has had no respite from the unusually hot weather.
"Only Indian tourists, especially students, visit the city this time of the year. The foreign tourists normally avoid a visit in June," said tourist guide, Naresh.
Vendors selling colourful umbrellas are doing a brisk business.
Lemonade is in great demand at all tourist sites. At the Taj, foreign tourists get paper cover for their shoes, which help beat the heat, and half a litre bottle of mineral water free along with the entrance tickets.
Despite the searing heat, the Taj remains a photographer's delight. "Capture the Taj in any season at any time of the day. The result will be unique and breathtaking," said Vishal, one of the many photographers at the Taj.
The city is also facing a water and power shortage crisis due to the heat.
"The flow in the river Yamuna is zero right now," said an official of the Agra Water Works. The upstream discharge from Gokul Barrage in Mathura has reduced to a trickle, and that too evaporates before reaching Agra.
"One by one the transformers of the electricity supply company are collapsing due to the pressure of excessive demand, forcing residents to sweat it out for long hours," said Surendra Sharma, former president of the Hotels and Restaurant Association of Agra.