India's Taj Mahal Reopens While COVID-19 Cases Rise

India’s Taj Mahal Reopens While COVID-19 Cases Rise

Visitors can remove their masks for a photo, but will have to put them back on once the shutter has been pressed.

taj mahal reopens india

The Indian government has made the decision to reopen the Taj Mahal on Monday, Sep 21. This comes after India’s “monument of love” was shut down for six months since March 17 due to COVID-19.

The news may come as a surprise to many, given the high and rising number of coronavirus cases in the country. The current number of cases stand at over 5.4 million. More than 92,000 cases were reported over 24 hours on Sunday (Sep. 20). And over 86,000 confirmed deaths have been recorded since the advent of the virus in India.

Visitorship to be staggered

As the Taj Mahal reopens, safe distancing has to be in place. Visitors will be divided into two shifts. There will be a pre-lunch slot and post-lunch slot, with each shift having a maximum of 2,500 visitors. The quota for visitors to the monument daily will hence be capped at 5,000. This is a quarter of its usual capacity.

Tickets can only be purchased online, with about 160 of them already booked. A Taiwanese tourist staying in India was reported to be the first visitor since the Taj Mahal reopened.

Strict rules to be followed

Safety measures are in place to minimise the spread of the virus. For starters, all will have their temperature taken by staff wearing protective gear.

Visitors can remove their masks for a photo, but will have to put them back on once the shutter has been pressed. Group photos are also not allowed due to social distancing, but selfies and solo photos are permitted.

The famous bench where people usually sit to have their picture taken has been laminated in plastic to facilitate cleaning.

Additionally, a maximum of five people will be allowed at one time within the main mausoleum which houses the graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The Taj Mahal will also be closed on Fridays.

Also read: Visitors to SG With Travel History to India Will Need COVID-19 Test

An icon reopens

As the Taj Mahal reopens, the return of visitors will be a huge relief to the people of Agra who depend on tourism for their livelihoods.

“We have all the safety measures in place,” said Vasant Swarnkar from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which oversees the Unesco world heritage site. “We want to send out the message that things are not so bad and you will be safe if you follow the instructions.”

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Shawn Tan
Shawn Tan

Shawn believes that travel is a state of mind. Whether it is winding through the bustling medinas of Marrakech or the morning ritual of brewing coffee, travelling to him is all about being lost in the moment.

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