As befitting one the seven new wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal attracts millions of people every year but now authorities are considering visitor limits to protect the monument.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which oversees the protection of India's most iconic sight has advised that visitor numbers should be capped at 40,000 a day and visits should last no longer than three hours.
At the weekends or on public holidays, visitor numbers can reach up to 70,000 people a day, made up largely of Indian people who are embracing domestic tourism in greater numbers. Last week, five people were injured as crowds tried to push through the gate as closing time, prompting the ASI to take renewed action at limiting numbers.
Although no official announcement has been made yet, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told the Indian Express that “we have no option but to go by these measures” in order to “ensure a smooth experience at the Taj Mahal and avert any tragedy.”
The visitor restrictions will only affect domestic tourists, who make up about 7.2 million out of the 8 million annual visitors. Currently Indian visitors pay just 40 rupees to visit the Taj Mahal while international visitors must pay 1,000. Domestic tourists who want to escape the cap can do so by purchasing the higher-priced ticket.
As well as helping manage crowd control, some experts have been advocating capping visitor numbers since 1993 in order to protect the monument itself, as too much footfall can damage the stunning marble foundations. Overtourism is not the only danger facing the structure however; it’s beginning to turn yellow from air pollution and is two years into a nine-year plan to brighten the walls with mudpacks.