City of Taj set for major tourism plans

April 2nd, 2011 - 10:23 am ICT by IANS  

Agra, April 2 (IANS) The tourism profile of Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, is all set to change with a line-up of projects that would bring in more revenue and extend basic amenities at its world famous monuments.

The focus of development will now also be on promoting religious and cultural sites, other than historical monuments.

According to Agra’s Divisional Commissioner Amrit Abhijat, “an integrated plan to broad-base facilities and promote lesser known monuments and cultural sites” would be implemented in phases.

A meeting of the district authorities and representatives of various tourism and travel organisations in the city March 31 focussed on the areas that need to be given priority in the development plan for India’s most sought after tourism destination.

A scientifically planned traffic management system will receive priority as there have been a flood of complaints from tourists caught in jams for hours, an official said.

A new MG Road-II has been developed to ease the pressure on the existing MG Road,the lifeline of the city.

“The alternative route to divert tourist traffic back to Delhi is ready for opening shortly,” District Magistrate Ajay Chauhan said.

According to Municipal Commissioner Vinay Shankar Pandey, “no parking zone is being developed on the crucial stretch of MG Road from the Civil Courts crossing to the main Hari Parbat crossing.

The meeting was informed that the project to promote the Agra Heritage Walk is ready with support from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

The Heritage Walk includes a stretch of walkway connecting the agricultural field, the river bank, the Mughal aqueduct and the Humayun mosque.

District officials have drawn up plans for developing Bateshwar, famous for its 101 Shiva temples in a row along the Yamuna bank. It is also the birth place of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Divisional Forest Officer P.K. Janoo told IANS: “There had been a welcome increase in the green cover in the district. We are now going to pursue with vigour the Mera Vriksha programme, social forestry and planting of saplings this season on government land, and involve residents welfare associations.”

Amrit Abhijat referred to the proposed new transport system.

The feasibility report of the Mass Rapid Transport System for urban Agra was being submitted to the state government for sanctioning of the metro rail project, he said.

According to him, the tourism bodies of the city along with citizens’ groups would now be more actively involved in all the promotional activities so that they feel a sense of pride and responsibility.

Acting on the complaints filed by tourists regarding cheating and over-billing, the district authorities have now ordered all handicrafts shops to display price lists prominently.

The hotels and restaurants that were allegedly maintaining two menu cards, one for the domestic and the other for foreign tourists, have been warned of stern action if there was a complaint in future.

The meeting also gave the green signal for developing Kachchpura, behind the Taj Mahal across the river, as a tourist village.

A plan for adoption of lesser known monuments for upkeep by corporates and institutions is being drawn up and would be implemented shortly, the meeting was informed.

Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, voiced concern at the suspension of the only Kingfisher flight to the city from Friday.

Sharma said: “There is need for introducing more flights to Agra and upgrading the airport to international level. Also, landing of international flights at the Kheria airport of Agra must be allowed.”

He stressed that attention must be given to saving the dying river Yamuna that was proving a threat to the Taj Mahal.

“The district authorities have been passing the buck on the issue of the controversial Taj Heritage Corridor, which is such an eyesore between two world heritage monuments - the Taj and the Agra Fort,” he said.

Sharma added that the Supreme Court should be approached to give permission for the dismantling and cleaning up of the artificial platform raised on 80 acres of land in 2003.

“For almost 10 years the issue has been hanging fire and no department has shown any sense of urgency. They are neither greening it nor cleaning it. Rather it is being used as a graveyard and a huge dumping ground for civic waste,” Sharma complained.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at

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