Taj Mahal ticket price hiked fivefold for Indians

Indians make up the majority of the Taj Mahal’s 10,000-15,000 average daily visitors. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Taj Mahal ticket price hiked fivefold for Indians

  • An all-inclusive ticket for Indian citizens was raised from 50 rupees ($0.70) to 250 rupees
  • The latest move comes only months after Indian authorities restricted the number of tourists to 40,000 per day

NEW DELHI: Authorities have hiked fivefold ticket prices for Indian visitors to the Taj Mahal, in the latest attempt to lower tourist numbers and reduce damage at the country’s top tourist site.
Indians make up the majority of the Taj Mahal’s 10,000-15,000 average daily visitors. Nearly 6.5 million people marvelled at the white marble 17th-century masterpiece in 2016.
An all-inclusive ticket for Indian citizens including entry into the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, was raised from 50 rupees ($0.70) to 250 rupees.
International tourists will pay roughly $19 to enter the UNESCO World Heritage complex in northern India, up from $16.
“We want people to pay more to limit the footfall,” an official from the Archaeological Survey of India, the government body responsible for upkeep, told AFP.
“This will cut down the number of visitors to the mausoleum by at least 15-20 percent and generate revenue for its conservation,” the official said.
The latest move comes only months after Indian authorities restricted the number of tourists to 40,000 per day. Previously up to 70,000 people would throng the site at weekends.
Experts say the huge flow of people is causing irreversible damage to the marble floor, walls and foundations.
Officials have also struggled to stop the white marble from turning yellow as pollution levels rise in the northern city of Agra.
Further damage is being caused by excrement by insects from the noxious adjacent Yamuna river, one of India’s most polluted waterways.
In July, India’s Supreme Court threatened to either shut or tear down the monument over the failure of the authorities to protect it from degradation.
The court asked the Indian authorities to consult international experts to speed up the conservation efforts.


Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

Naotoshi Yamada, above, was planning to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

  • The man attended all summer games since 1964
  • He often wore a golden hat when he attended the games

TOKYO: A Japanese Olympic mega-fan who attended every summer games since Tokyo in 1964 has died, just over a year before his home city was to host its second Olympics.
Tokyo businessman Naotoshi Yamada, 92, who died on March 9 from heart failure, was a national celebrity in his own right with his repeated, gleeful appearances in Olympic stands.
“Uncle Olympics,” as he came to be known, was an omnipresent fixture for Japanese TV watchers cheering on the Japan team at the “Greatest Show On Earth.”
Often sporting a gold top hat, kimono, and a beaming smile, Yamada also became a darling of the international media.
“After 92 years of his life spent cheering, Naotoshi Yamada, international Olympic cheerleader, was called to eternal rest on March 9, 2019,” said his web site, managed by a firm he founded.
Born in 1926, Yamada built a successful wire rope manufacturing business, and also expanded his portfolio to include the hotel and real estate sectors.
But away from work, his passion was for sport, particularly the Olympics.
He did not miss a summer games since 1964, taking in Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
For good measure, he also attended the winter games when it rolled into Nagano in 1998, and told local media of his strong desire to attend the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Yamada saw the first Tokyo Olympics when he was 38.
But his passion was truly ignited during the 1968 Mexico City Games, according to his website.
He donned a kimono and a sombrero hat and loudly cheered for a Mexican 5000-meter runner, mistaking him for a Japanese athlete.
Local spectators embraced the scene and loudly cheered for Japanese athletes in return, leading to an electrifying show of support that went beyond nationality, his website said.
“He saw the awesome power of cheering, and was mesmerised by it ever since,” it said.