Agra: A 40-year-old woman from Brazil was one of the early tourists to step inside the premises of Taj Mahal as it opened on Wednesday after having been closed for around two months amid the Covid-induced lockdown.
As many as 1,919 tourists, including two foreign nationals, visited the monument on the first day, officials said, adding 221 people visited Agra Fort, 75 Fatehpur Sikri and 151 Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra.
Melissa Dalla Rosa from Brazil told PTI that it was a “special moment for me to see the Taj Mahal during sunrise and being totally alone at the wonderful place .
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had announced the reopening of all centrally protected monuments, sites and museums from Wednesday. However, the Agra administration capped the number of visitors at the Taj Mahal to 650 people at a time.
Melissa, who was on a nine-week yoga tour in India when the lockdown was announced, said: “I came to Agra yesterday from Lucknow only to explore the city as I knew monuments were closed due to the pandemic. But (when I arrived here), I got to know that the Taj Mahal is reopening so I rushed to book a ticket.”
“I came here very early and was the first tourist to have stepped inside. It was magical. Thank you India for this opportunity,” she said.
A couple from Lucknow described their experience as memorable .
“I’ve visited Taj Mahal many times but today’s visit was memorable. I booked tickets online and was able to see the most beautiful white marble mausoleum in the world,” said Amir.
For him, it was a wah Taj! moment with birds chirping during the sunrise at the monument that looked so clean and beautiful with few visitors.
Mamta Tomar, who travelled from Ghaziabad with her family, said they had been waiting for a long time to visit the monument.
“I and my other family members clicked photos from the central tank and captured every moment on our phone,” she said.
The visitors followed Covid protocol with their masks on. They were thermal screened and sanitised before entering the premises of the monument.
One could sense huge enthusiasm among all, including the shopkeepers and vendours outside the tomb complex.
Some tourist guides were also spotted at the Shilpgram parking area.
Superintending Archaeologist, ASI Agra Circle Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, said that of the 1,919 visitors, 1,850 were adults and 67 children.
At Itmad-ud-daulah, 30 tickets were sold, at Mehtab Bagh 59, at Ram Bagh 45 and at Mariam Tomb 19 tickets, he said.