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World Taj Mahal reopens after longest shutdown

10:37  21 september  2020
10:37  21 september  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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image captionIndian security personnel stand guard at the Taj Mahal after it reopened on Monday. Few people turned up to see the iconic Taj Mahal when it reopened its doors after six months - the longest it has ever been shut . The entrance, which usually has long queues

The iconic Taj Mahal has reopened its doors to visitors after six months – the longest it has ever been shut . It was closed as the country went into a stringent lockdown in March to halt the spread of coronavirus. It will now allow only 5,000 visitors daily and enforce Covid-19 safety measures as cases

a close up of a church with Taj Mahal in the background: The Taj Mahal is located in the northern Indian city of Agra © Getty Images The Taj Mahal is located in the northern Indian city of Agra

The iconic Taj Mahal has reopened its doors to visitors after six months - the longest it has ever been shut.

It was closed as the country went into a stringent lockdown in March to halt the spread of coronavirus.

It will now allow only 5,000 visitors daily and enforce Covid-19 safety measures as cases spike in India.

The Taj Mahal is one of the world's leading tourist attractions, and drew as many as 70,000 people every day before the pandemic.

Taj Mahal reopens even as India cases soar

  Taj Mahal reopens even as India cases soar The Taj Mahal reopens to visitors on Monday in a symbolic business-as-usual gesture, even as India looks set to overtake the US as the global leader in coronavirus infections. "I think, not just in India but all over the world, fatigue with extreme measures that were taken to restrict the growth of the coronavirus is setting in," said Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, predicting that infections will keep rising as a result.Many experts say that even though India is testing more than a million people per day, this is still not enough and the true number of cases may be much higher than officially reported.

The iconic Taj Mahal reopened its doors to visitors on Monday after a six-month closure -- the longest it has ever been shut . The Taj was closed as India went into a stringent lockdown on March 17 to halt the spread of coronavirus. It will now allow only 5,000 visitors daily and enforce Covid-19 safety

The iconic Taj Mahal has reopened its doors to visitors after six months – the longest it has ever been shut , Qazet.az reports citing BBC. The 17th-Century marble mausoleum was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal . It was last shut briefly in 1978 when

The 17th-Century marble mausoleum was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal.

It was last shut briefly in 1978 when Agra city, where it is located, flooded. And before that, the monument closed for a few days in 1971, during a war between India and Pakistan.

Selfies allowed, but no 'group photos'

The entire campus was sanitised before the doors opened at 8am and all officials were seen wearing masks and face shields, local journalist Yogesh Kumar Singh, who was at the monument when it opened, told the BBC.

Authorities said there will be temperature checks at the entrance, and visitors will be asked to use digital payment methods to buy tickets.

They have also been told to follow social distancing on the property.

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However, historical destinations like Taj Mahal , Agra Fort, and Akbar tomb will continue to remain shut as they fall under ‘buffer zones’. Notably, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) decided to reopen all historical monuments after the Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel’s tweet to reopen monuments

Agra’s Taj Mahal to remained shut as coronavirus cases in the city rose. The historical monument was scheduled to re - open on Monday. Taj Mahal has been shut

While visitors can take selfies or solo photographs, group photos are not allowed.

"But there is no rush, it feels so unlike Taj Mahal," Mr Singh said. "I think many people will not turn up as long as cases continue to spike."

India has reported more than five million cases so far, and Uttar Pradesh, where the Taj is located, has the country's fifth-highest caseload.

Mr Kumar said it would be interesting to see how authorities enforce safety rules when large groups start visiting the site.

The Taj is surrounded by gardens where visitors spend a lot of time walking around and posing for photographs. But the mausoleum itself is a closed space, with almost no ventilation, making it vulnerable to Covid-19 transmission.

Typically, it is crowded as tourists move in and out of it in long lines.

a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people with Taj Mahal in the background: The Taj Mahal has always attracted large crowds © Getty Images The Taj Mahal has always attracted large crowds

A deserted look

Gautam Sharma, who drove from Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal on Monday, said he had been waiting for the day for months.

"I knew not many people will turn up initially, so I thought it will be safe to visit the monument in the first few days of reopening," he said.

The monument had few visitors waiting at its doors as it opened Monday morning - an unusual sight in its long history.

It is perhaps India's most famous monument and is usually part of every foreign dignitary's itinerary.

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited the Taj in February. Other world leaders who have visited the monument include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian President Vladimir Putin, George Harrison, the guitarist for the Beatles and Princess Diana.

India coronavirus cases pass 6 million .
India reported its six millionth coronavirus case on Monday as it surged closer to the United States as the most-infected nation, and authorities pressed ahead with reigniting the economy. The vast nation is home to 1.3 billion people, some of humanity's most densely populated cities and a feeble health care system, and for several weeks it has reported around 90,000 new cases daily -- the highest in the world. Health ministry data showed a rise of 82,000 cases on Monday, taking the total to 6.1 million and closing the gap on the United States, which has recorded 7.1 million infections. India could leapfrog the US in the coming weeks.

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