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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Taj Mahal and Agra Fort opens up to tourists from today

After being closed for six months due to Covid-19 pandemic, the world famous Taj Mahal finally opens up to visitors

Now here's a good news for tourists and travel enthusiasts. After being closed for six months since March this year, Taj Mahal and Agra Fort to be opened to tourists from today, the 21st of September 2020.

A view of Taj Mahal from the grand entry to its garden enclosure. Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Taj Mahal needs no introduction. It's the most well known Indian monument, a popular must-see attraction for worldwide tourists. Ever since the monuments were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the entry to Taj Mahal was prohibited along with the rest of monuments in India. Now, as per the latest news, the district administration of Agra is going to open Taj Mahal and Agra Fort to visitors, from 21st September 2020.

The visitors have to stictly follow the Covid prevention guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing, etc. Face cover or mask is mandatory for visitors. Mandatory hand hygiene and thermal scanning provisions will be provided at the entrance, and only asymptomatic persons will be allowed inside. There is a limit for the total number of persons allowed inside. Also, only digital payment will be allowed at parking, cafeteria, etc[1][2]. For full details, please refer to the official notice of Guidelines for Visitors on the official Taj Mahal website.

As per Taj Mahal's official website which is run by the Department of Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh, the entry tickets will be available online only, and manual ticketing isn't currently available[1]. You may follow their website for official news and announcements on this.

A press release by the PIB earlier in July had announced that all centrally protected monuments of ASI are to open from 6th July 2020 onwards[3].

Taj Mahal, recognised as a A UNESCO World Heritage site, was built between 1631 and 1648 CE, and it was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. The UNESCO describes Taj Mahal as the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. Taj Mahal was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1983, and as UNESCO's criteria for it precisely describes, it indeed represents a masterpiece of human creative genius.[4].

The Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort of Agra, is located near the gardens of the Taj Mahal. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls. Like the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort too was added to the world heritage site list in the year 1983[5].

The below map of Agra shows both Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Zoom in or zoom out for details or wider view.

If you're planning a long distance travel, especially to another state, then it isn't as easy as before yet. You will have to check the regulations or travel guidelines of the state that you're travelling to; for example, if you're planning to visit Agra in Uttar Pradesh and you're travelling to that state from some other state.

You may try searching for something like "uttar pradesh travel guidelines" or "state-wise travel guidelines" on Google or on any other web search services. You can try looking for State-Wise Quarantine Guidelines information on the Airports Authority of India's website, IRCTC's Advisory page, the respective State Government websites, and any updates on news portals. You can also look for this state-wise regulations information on travel or airline websites where you may head to book your hotel or flights. You may also try the official toll-free helpline for the tourists

Finally, wherever you go, just ensure that you strictly follow the face cover or mask and other Covid prevention guidelines, to be on the safer side. Carry a hand sanitiser and wash your hands throughly before eating food, and after returning to your hotel room or place of stay. And once you wear your mask, you shouldn't be touching it with your hands, until it is time to remove the mask once you're back inside your hotel room or place of stay. And yes, the mask goes over your nose!

We've been on road trips during these times, not for touring or travelling's sake, but due to work or duty-bound needs. We've adhered to the safety guidelines while travelling and haven't had any issues so far. While eating out, just remember to eat freshly cooked food which is hot, and carry water bottles or purchase good quality bottled water. These few precautions can be easily followed. Some are already going on road trips wherever possible, especially within their own state. However, inter-state trips depends on the state that you're travelling to. Stay safe, and happy travelling.

And if you're unhappy that you can't afford a trip right now, then don't worry. Here's a 360 degree panorama of Taj Mahal in Google maps street view:

View in larger map


References:
[1] Taj Mahal - Official Website of Taj Mahal, Government of Uttar Pradesh(India)
[2] Guidelines for Visitors (PDF)- Official Website of Taj Mahal, Government of Uttar Pradesh(India)
[3] All Centrally protected monuments of ASI to open from 6th July 2020: Shri Prahlad Singh Patel - Press Information Bureau, Government of India.
[4] Taj Mahal - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
[5] Agra Fort - UNESCO World Heritage Centre


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