Authorities in India are trying to tackle overtourism at the country’s most-visited landmark by fining tourists for overstaying their welcome.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal will now be fined for staying longer than three hours inside the walls of the Unesco World Heritage site. The fee will be collected from tourists at the exit gates, according to The Archaeological Survey of India who administers the monument.
The fine is expected to be around 1,100 rupees (Dh58).
Visitors will also have to adhere to timings specified on pre-purchased tickets. Tourists that turn up without the time stamped on their tickets will not be allowed entrance and will have to purchase another ticket on-site.
The new restrictions were piloted in April last year. Since then, all tickets purchased have been printed with a specified time on them but, until now, the time was not checked by anyone.
The move is a bid to help restrict visitor numbers to the monument, which can exceed 60,000 on busy days. Entrance tickets to the Taj Mahal cost 1,100 rupees (Dh58). Indian nationals are charged 50 rupees (Dh2.62).
Sitting on the banks of the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal welcomes up to 8 million people every year, making it one of the world’s most visited landmarks.
Commissioned in 1632 as a gift for the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the main mausoleum stands 60 metres tall. Carved out of white marble and inlaid with jewels and gemstones from around the world, it took over 20 years to be completed.
Last December, a separate ticket fee of 200 rupees (Dh10.50) was made compulsory for tourists that want to enter the main mausoleum.
Other time-restricted sites
The Taj Mahal is not the first UNESCO world heritage site to put restrictions on visits. Tickets to the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu are hourly time-stamped and have a four-hour time limit. Entrance tickets to Rome’s Colosseum are also restricted, and are valid for only two days from their date stamp.