Taj Mahal | Photo: Sabu Scaria|Mathrubhumi
Agra: To curb black-marketing of tickets to the Taj Mahal, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has said that visitors to the iconic monument can now book only five tickets for adults and three for children.
Earlier, a person could book up to 20 tickets online for the Taj Mahal.
According to the superintending archaeologist in ASI (Agra circle), Vasant Swarnkar, the entry of children below 15 years would continue to be free.
He said that the restrictions on purchase of tickets will be applicable to other monuments across Agra, including Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort.
Swarnkar had written to the District Magistrate and police about the black marketing of tickets after receiving complaints from tourists earlier this month.
Later, police arrested half a dozen people for reselling online tickets and booked them under section 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The ASI official added that all visitors' identities will be printed on each ticket.
The practice had been stopped last year after travel agents and tour operators urged the ministry to remove the cumbersome process of filling name of each tourist while booking tickets online.
"The visitors' entry will be allowed only after verifying their identity from photo IDs like passport, driving license, voter ID, PAN among other documents," Swarnkar said.
ASI officials said that all tickets for the Taj Mahal were booked for the weekend but footfall at the monument was recorded low — 4,301 on Sunday and 3,957 a day earlier due to the farmers' protests at the Delhi border.
As per norms, number of visitors are calculated on the basis of the total number of adults and children visiting the Taj, which is capped at 5,000, a daily limit of visitors fixed by the cultural ministry since the monument reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown on September 21.
Meanwhile, local tourism industry has resented the move and called it a retrograde step.
Vice-President of the Tourism Guild Agra, Rajiv Saxena, said the issue of black-marketing of tickets could be resolved by increasing the number of visitors.
"The aim should be to provide hassle-free access to the monument instead of applying more rules," he said.