India icon deals with overwhelming popularity

(CNN) — Like many of the world’s most famous attractions, the Taj Mahal has been coping with the effects of overtourism.

However, the latest solution for managing crowds at the icon in India is as much about celebrating the site’s beauty as it is about crowd control.
Officials for tourism in Agra, the city that the Taj calls home, have told CNN Travel that the site will be open on full moon nights every month except for Ramadan (Ramzan), as well as for two nights on each end of the full moon night, for a total of five evenings per month.

Currently, the Taj is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Friday.

The new move will provide additional opportunities for visitors to explore the Taj Mahal, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1983.

In addition to being able to accommodate more visitors by being open on selected nights, visitors will also have a chance to see a different side of the Taj — bathed in moonlight, offsetting the white marble.

Built at the order of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the Taj Mahal is widely considered one of the world’s foremost attractions and is the single-most visited tourist destination in all of India.

This is not the first time that changes have been implemented to care for the Taj in the face of overtourism.

In December 2018, ticket prices went up from 50 rupees (70 cents) to 250 rupees ($3.50) for Indian citizens and to 1100 rupees ($13.50), with an additional 200 rupees ($2.75) to visit the main mausoleum, for foreigners.

In order to book tickets for these full-moon nights, guests must contact the Archaeological Survey of India Office at 22 Mall Road in Agra or by telephone at +91 562 222 7261.

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