The Taj Mahal, India’s “monument to love”, has reopened after a six-month hiatus with special rules introduced – including no touching the white marble walls of the mausoleum built for a Mughal emperor’s favourite wife
.Only 5,000 visitors are allowed daily – a quarter of usual capacity – and all have their temperature taken by staff wearing face shields, masks and gloves.
Visitors can whip off their masks for a photo, but security personnel are quick to remind them to put them back on once the shutter has been pressed.
And the famous bench where people usually sit to have their picture taken has been laminated in plastic, to help cleaning between every photo
India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world’s most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million COVID-19 cases, with approximately 100,000 new infections and more than 1,000 deaths recorded daily in the past several weeks. But after a strict lockdown in March that devastated the livelihoods of tens of millions of people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to copy some other nations and reimpose curbs on activity.
Instead, in recent months his government has eased restrictions, including on many train routes, domestic flights, markets, restaurants – and now, visiting the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The 17th-century white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the city of Agra, about 200km from the capital, New Delhi, is India’s most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year but has been closed since March