If you’ve visited the Taj Mahal, you’ll know how busy it can get, with an average of 22,000 people visiting it per day, a number that reaches 50,000 at times. While various rules have come into effect to address this issue, such as the recent decision to fine visitors who stay for more than three hours at the iconic white mausoleum, it looks like the Taj Mahal might open after sunset for visitors.
Night access to the renowned monument is limited to five nights per month at present. Only 400 visitors can visit on full moon night and on the two nights preceding and following it. Change is afoot however, as the country’s tourism and culture minister, Prahlad Singh Patel, has said that he is aiming to open it beyond its 10am to 6pm public access time. “We have been receiving a lot of requests to keep the monument open during the night hours,” he said. “We are dedicated to make this a reality.”
The decision to open at night is part of a country-wide project to extend visiting hours at ten of India’s most popular visitor attractions, linked to the Incredible India campaign. There are plans to illuminate the area around the Taj Mahal as part of the development of infrastructure to deal with the night opening.
One of the Seven New Wonders of the World, the monument in the city of Agra was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, as a mausoleum to his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth in 1631. Approximately 20,000 people worked on the building, which underwent a huge restoration project in the early 20th century and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1983.
This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.