Higher fees justified

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Higher fees justified

Taj Mahal entry fee hike is welcome but concessionary fees must be given to some

The building of the Taj Mahal almost bankrupted the Mughal Empire, it led to Aurangzeb’s insurrection, which one must not forget was a popular one and despite Aurangzeb’s massive empire, it marked the turning out for the Mughal’s in India. But 400 years on, the magnificent building remains one of the most stunning examples of medieval architecture east of Constantinople. And despite the bustling and dirty streets leading to the Taj Mahal, the stunning marble monument remains a must-visit for tourists both domestic and international. However, the Taj Mahal has been a long-suffering monument, the marble has been leaching away, thanks to the polluted Yamuna beside it and the poisonous air in northern India. The job of maintaining the Taj is an expensive one, but it has to be done so that future generations continue to enjoy the splendour of this remarkable building.

Therefore, it is only fair that the charges to enter the Taj should be raised as well as the decision to charge Rs200 to enter the mausoleum. The latter was a much-needed fee increase and one that should help in crowd control inside the confines of the tomb. Because while the acrid water and poisonous air take their toll on the building, it is also being damaged slowly but surely by the incessant wave of humanity that overwhelms it every tourist season. Given the low incomes of most in India, the fees at the Taj Mahal are still extremely reasonable, and if one were to benchmark entrance fees to other noted global sites, such as the Colosseum in Rome cost a whopping Rs1,500 when converted. That said, the fee increase will hit some travellers and for that reason, the Archeological Society of India (ASI) should keep concessionary entrance fees for students and disabled people. At the same time, given India’s historical treasure trove, the ASI should also consider raising entrance fees at monuments across India which are unfortunately falling into a state of chronic neglect, such as the Tughlaqabad Fort on the outskirts of Delhi which is under constant attack by land encroachers.

A higher fee on a popular tourist attraction like the Taj Mahal will generate additional revenues that could not only be used to maintain the Taj but the several thousands of other monuments under the ASI’s purview many of which are woefully neglected. This could lead to a virtuous cycle, better upkeep at other monuments would attract more tourists into India, which this country sorely needs. More tourists means more money which will lead to even better care of our monuments.

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