New Delhi: The Taj Mahal in Agra, which has been closed for over a year for night viewing now due to Covid-19 restrictions, will reopen from August 21. The district administration issued directions to this effect on Friday.Manu Sharma, the official spokesperson of the archaeology department, said the Taj Mahal would open at night but visitors will have to follow all Covid protocols.The Taj Mahal was closed on March 17 last year soon after the coronavirus pandemic stuck. The monument was reopened on September 21 after a lockdown of 188 days.After the second wave hit this year, the Taj Mahal remained closed from April 16 to June 15. It was opened to tourists again from June 16, but no permission was given to open the Taj Mahal for night viewing then. ASI Superintending Archaeologist (Agra Circle) Vasant Kumar Swarnakar said night viewing will be allowed on August 21, 23, and 24 this month as the monument remains closed on Fridays every week, and lockdown is in force on Sundays. He said there are three time slots for visitors — 8:30 pm-9 pm, 9-9:30 pm and 9:30 pm-10 pm.”As per the Supreme Court guidelines, 50 tourists will be allowed to visit the Taj in each slot,” he told PTI.The Taj Mahal is opened for night viewing only on five days in a month — on the full moon night, and the two preceeding and subsequent nights.
Tickets Can Be Booked A Day In Advance From ASI Office Counter”Tickets can be booked a day in advance from the counter of the ASI office on 22 Mall Road in Agra, Kumar said.Rajeev Saxena, vice-president of the Tourism Guild of Agra, told PTI it was a good move, but it would not attract passengers arriving over the weekend until the Sunday lockdown and curfew after 10 pm was lifted. He said: “Tourists want to enjoy the nightlife of the city. They don’t want to stay in their hotels after 10 pm.”Government-approved tour guide Monica Sharma welcomed the move. She said it was a ray of hope for the revival of Agra’s tourism sector.It may be recalled that the Taj Mahal was reopened for night viewing in November 2004 after nearly 20 years, on the orders of the Supreme Court. Around the fool moon night (Purnima) that month, arrangements were made to open the Taj Mahal for five consecutive nights.Since then, the practice had been followed to open the Taj Mahal at night five days a month, before it was discontinued in 2020 due to the pandemic.