Visitors limited by India in bid to save the Taj Mahal

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In the hopes to preserve the infamous 17th century monument, one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions, India will restrict the number of daily visitors to the Taj Mahal.

As domestic travel becomes more accessible, the number of Indian tourists has increased rapidly with millions of visitors visiting the Taj Mahal.

Specialists believe that the increase in crowds causes wear and tear on the white marble tomb, which already must maintain regular cleaning to stop it from yellowing from the polluted air.

It has been decided that only 40,000 local tourists will be allowed to enter the monument every day, authorities said on Wednesday.

"We have to ensure the safety of the monument and visitors as well. Crowd management was emerging as a big challenge for us," an official with the Archeological Survey of India which controls the monument, told AFP on condition of anonymity.

However, these restraints will not apply to foreign tourists who pay 1,000 rupees ($16) to enter.

The fee for Indian visitors is just 40 rupees. If they want to get around the limit they will be able to buy more expensive tickets.

The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631. Anyone wanting to see the main crypt, which houses the couple's spectacular marble graves inlaid with semi-precious stones, will also have to pay for the pricier ticket.

The graves also date back to the 17th century but do not actually contain the bodies of the royal couple, who are buried under a separate lower chamber.

Restricting visitors occurred after visitors were injured in the crush on the last day of the year, which summons large crowds.

Daily visitor numbers to the Taj Mahal average 10,000-15,000 but can be much higher at weekends, going up to around 70,000.

Nearly 6.5 million visited the monument in 2016, according to government figures. Diana, the late British princess, was famously photographed alone on a marble seat there in 1992.

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