Taj Mahal and other historic monuments closed in Agra, annual Shah Jahan Urs cancelled
Agra, March 17 (IANS): The annual three-day Urs of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan will not be held as scheduled from March 21, as historic monuments including the Taj Mahal in Agra have been shut down till March 31, in the wake of COVID-19.
This will be the first time in the history of the Taj, that the annual Urs will not be held.
During the three-day Urs, entry usually remains free and a series of functions is organised. Work on the 365-metre long chadar, to be offered, had begun.
A member of the organising committee said, the convention would indeed be disrupted, but the safety of the country was more important.
The whole area around the Taj Mahal wears a deserted look. The Taj is visited by around 30,000 people daily. For the past one month, there had been a steep decline.
Agra mayor Navin Jain had asked for closure of the monuments, in a letter to the union tourism minister, a fortnight ago.
The Agra Development Authority used to earn around INR 14 crore daily from ticket sales.
On Tuesday, a pall of gloom descended on the tourism sector, as guides, photographers, taxi drivers, hoteliers were left with no work.
The once crowded parking areas were vehicle free. The eleven five-star hotels and around 25 three-star hotels, plus countless guest houses, dharamshalas and smaller hotels are waiting for customers. How long this wait will be, uncertainty continues.
Only during the 1971 war with Pakistan, the Taj Mahal was closed for more than a week. During the flood in 1978, it was again closed for a couple of days.