By far the biggest number of visitors to the Taj Mahal are domestic and the government has now increased the price of entry five-fold, from 50 rupees to 250 rupees, for domestic visitors.
From this week, an all-inclusive ticket to access the 365-year-old main mausoleum in Agra will also rise from around €14.50 to €16.50 for foreigners, a much smaller increase of just 15 per cent.
Domestic tourists make up the vast majority of visitors to the Taj Mahal, and the decision by authorities to increase the entry fee will likely have a significant impact in a country where the average daily wage is just 270 rupees (€3.30).
“We want people to pay more to limit the footfall,” said an official from the Archaeological Survey of India, the government body responsible for its maintenance.
“This will cut down the number of visitors to the mausoleum by at least 15-20 per cent and generate revenue for its conservation.”
Earlier this year, in another crowd-control move, the government capped domestic visitor numbers to 40,000 a day. Before this, up to 70,000 tourists would flood the Unesco-listed site on weekends and holidays.
The cap was partly sparked by a small stampede at the east entry gate last December that saw five people sustain injuries as late-comers tried to force their way into the complex just before closing time.
In July, India’s Supreme Court threatened to either shut or even tear down the monument over the failure of the authorities to protect it from degradation, according to AFP.