Record holiday crowd at Taj Mahal

December 26th, 2010 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Dec 26 (IANS) Chilly winds and foggy conditions notwithstanding, the holiday crowd at the Taj Mahal in Agra continued to swell over the weekend, resulting in long queues at the monument to love and traffic jams on its approaches.”Despite the disruption of rail and road traffic by the Gujjar agitation, the number of people visiting the Taj Mahal on Saturday crossed 35,000 which is fairly decent and gives hope that the tourism industry would fare well,” said Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.

From Friday till the first week of January, the crowd pressure would be the maximum, said an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official at the Taj.

“On Sunday morning, the queues at the two gates of the Taj Mahal had already begun to lengthen, although it was misty and chilly,” said hotel owner Sandeep Arora of Taj Ganj. Obviously, the tourists were enjoying the Agra cold, he added.

On Saturday, there were long queues, with tourists having to spend a minimum of two hours to enter the monument. “There are reports that some touts, called ‘lapkas’ in local parlance sold tickets in black also,” a guide said. The ASI and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel had a tough time managing the big crowd.

“All the parking slots, on the western gate and in the Shilpgram complex were choked to capacity with vehicles. The Agra Fort-Yamuna Kinara road saw long lines of vehicles stranded in a jam for hours,” according to a tourism industry official.

Rajiv Tiwari, a senior industry leader, said Sunday morning: “The traffic police should put more men on the job to ensure that visitors lost no time and were able to see other monuments also. Right now most tourists are able to visit only the Taj Mahal.”

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