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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Foreigners, Indians in mad rush to soak in the glory of Taj in tonight’s moonlight

cities Updated: Oct 12, 2019 17:54 IST
Taj in moonlight as viewed from Mehtab Bagh across the river Yamuna.
Taj in moonlight as viewed from Mehtab Bagh across the river Yamuna. (HT FILE PHOTO)

: Adrinne Johnstow, from Ireland will turn 60 on October 25 and so she flew down with her husband Cathal Johstow to celebrate her ‘Big Day’ in India.

But according to her, the ‘icing’ on her birthday-month sojourn will be her visit to Agra’s monument of love on the full moon night. And, as luck would have it, ‘Sharad Poornima’ or the full moon night falls on October 13 (Sunday) and Adrinne has decided to stand in front of white mausoleum, soaked in the bright moonlight, and capture the sight of the Taj in her memories.

Adrinne, a professional photographer, visited the Taj in the day time on Thursday but she said her visit was incomplete till she viewed the monument soaked in moonlight.

After direction from the Supreme Court, the Taj Mahal opens for five nights in a month -- on full moon nights and two nights before and two nights after the full moon night.

However, if one such night falls on a Friday, no night viewing is allowed as Friday is day of closure for Taj and this time, too. there are only four nights for night viewing as one night is a Friday.

“I am very thrilled at the prospect of standing before the white mausoleum, shining in full glory of the full moonlight. I was at Taj Mahal on Thursday but found something amiss as I wondered as to how this beautiful monument would look during night hours. I enquired about its possibility and fortunately my guide informed me about the full noon night (Sharad Poornima) on October 13 and here we are at the ticket window to book our tickets in advance,” stated a delighted Adrinne.

Not only foreigners like Adrinne, but many Indian tourists too are waiting for the wonderful night.

Vidisha from Lucknow had seen Taj about three years ago but returned without her wish to see it by night unfulfilled. She reached Agra on Friday and was in a queue to fulfil her wish. There were many others who are making repeat trips to Agra to view the Taj in full moonlight.

All the tickets were sold out on Saturday and it was a mad rush at the Mall Road office of ASI for tickets for the Sunday night visit. Many ticket-seekers were seen lining up at ticket windows as early as 5 am at ASI ticket window.

Most of those coming for night viewing have already seen Taj in daylight but there are also a few who are here to see Taj in moonlight for the second time. During night viewing only 400 visitors are allowed in eight batches of 50 each.

The figures (SEE DATA) show that the full moon night rarely turns to a full house (400 visitors) and tourism trade pundits outline certain reasons for.

According to them, non-availability of tickets online, ticket available only a day before viewing, besides distance from which tourists are allowed to view the Taj makes them miss the ‘feel’ of the white mausoleum as they are confined at red sand stone platform about 300 metres before the white marble structure. Above all, cloudy and foggy nights take away the even the basic view.

“The turnout of domestic tourists for night viewing is good but what we lack is foreigners who are in fact more interested in aesthetic view of the Taj in night hours. Because of ticket booking only a day before, we are not in a position to assure foreign guests about ticket for night viewing. This could be resolved by keeping a quota fixed for foreign guests with rest of the tickets for domestic tourists. This would generate more revenue as tickets for foreigners for night viewing is Rs 750 while for Indians it is Rs 510,” said vice president of Tourism Guild Rajiv Saxena.

“During foggy nights, from November to February, view of the mausoleum is faint from the red sand stone platform. A batch of 50 tourists is taken with escort and after security they could be taken till the central platform to provide closer view of the Taj,” suggests Saxena.

Former ASI superintending archaeologist KK Mohammad said Sharad Poornima before winters was special because it came after the rainy season . The white marble monument was washed clean and bright by rain and often there was a moonlight reflection visible, called ‘chamki’ (sparkle) in local parlance.

First Published: Oct 12, 2019 17:49 IST

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