AGRA, India — The Taj Mahal was opened on Aug. 21 to visitors for night-time viewing after a year and a half as Covid-19 restrictions were eased in the north-Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The 17th-century mausoleum had been closed for viewing at night since March 2020 in first the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“It is good news for tourists and visitors that after 1.5 years, the Taj Mahal has been re-opened to people for night viewing,” said Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintending Archeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Agra.
“We have made all necessary arrangements for people to follow the Covid-19 protocol and guidelines. Only after checking the body temperature and sanitizing their hands, we are allowing them entry into the monument. We are also ensuring that people wear masks and maintain social distancing.”
Visitors at the site shared their different experiences of seeing a moonlit Taj Mahal.
“Taj Mahal has opened for night viewing after about a year,” said Manoj Saxena, a visitor. “Taj Mahal looks beautiful in the moonlight. It was a very good experience seeing the beauty of the monument in the night.”
Paridhi Joshi, another visitor said the weekend’s full near-full moon topped her visit to the Taj off.
“I always wanted to see the Taj Mahal and had heard from people that it is very beautiful,” she said.
“It is undoubtedly beautiful, but the moonlight only adds to the beauty of the seventh wonder of the world. It was an enriching experience.”
Other sightseers had a different opinion of the night-time viewing experience on a rather typical Indian monsoon night.
“It was a good experience viewing the Taj Mahal at night. But since it has been raining here, the moon was not very bright due to cloudy skies,” said Reena.
“Had the moon been brighter, the Taj Mahal would have looked even more beautiful.”
A total of 50 visitors are permitted in each of the three time-slots to see the monument on all but three days of the week under the current Covid-19 restrictions. The viewing slots run from 8:30 to 9 pm; 9 to 9:30 pm, and 9:30 to 10 pm.
Under normal conditions, the Taj Mahal complex is open to visitors from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays, and night-time viewing runs for three days at full moon.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-designated World Heritage Site remains closed on Fridays to tourists as locals offer prayers in the mosque inside the complex. Friday is considered the most sacred day of the week in Islam. People congregate to offer a special prayer exclusive to the day.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Amrita Das and Krishna Kakani
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