Taj Mahal all set to get facelift
ASI and Union Tourism Ministry are putting in joint efforts towards optimum development of the monument of love.india Updated: May 30, 2006 19:01 IST
One of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world, the Taj Mahal is all set to get a facelift with the Archaeological Survey of India, local administration and Union Tourism Ministry putting in joint efforts towards optimum development of the monument of love.
"Among the world heritage sites in the country, Taj Mahal is one of the most important. So optimum work has to be done by Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Development Authority and Tourism Ministry," Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said on Tuesday.
The ASI is in the process of identifying land around the Taj and acquiring it to create a green patch around the historic site, the minister said adding the heritage site would also host a variety of cultural activities like folklore performances, entertainment packages including light shows and a night bazaar for tourists during night viewing, she said.
Observing that the 17th century monument was visited by nearly 32 lakh tourists in the last calendar year, of which 6.5 lakhs were foreigners, Soni, who was on a day-long trip to the city, also underlined the need for an international airport in Agra, which also houses other archaeological heritage sites like Fatehpuri Sikri and Agra Fort.
The minister said establishment of facilitation Centres at the different gates of Taj Mahal comprising restrooms, shops, multi-media outlets and other utilities was also being taken up with the help of ASI. The facilitation centre at the East Gate is complete at the cost of Rs two crore. But it could not be made available for tourists as Supreme Court has not given permission for its functioning," ASI officials, accompanying the minister, said.
"When courts come in-between we have certain limitations. In fact after holding discussions with all the concerned parties we will tabulate the suggestions and put a comprehensive proposal before the Supreme Court to seek a solution," Soni said.
She said the Tourism Ministry and ASI have joined hands with the Uttar Pradesh government and will ensure the early completion of works and infrastructure development in the city so that tourists coming to Taj Mahal have a pleasant experience, Soni said.
The Centre annually earmarks Rs 62 crore to the ASI for the upkeep of the nation's heritage sites, the minister said.