The Indian authorities have made the entry fee to the Taj Mahal five times more expensive for domestic visitors, in order to restrict the number of tourists as well as the damage done to the most important tourist attraction in the country.

The ticket for the mausoleum constructed in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, increased from 50 rupees (about half a euro) to 250 for domestic tourists who make up the majority of visitors.

Tourists from abroad will pay 16.5€ per person from 14€ at present to tour the mausoleum of white marble in the city of Agra in Northern India.

“We want people to pay more, so as to limit visitors″explained an official from the Archaeological Service of India. “In this waytheir numbers will go down by 15-20% and revenue will increase that isnecessary for its conservation” he added.

A few months ago the Indian government had decided to limit the number of tourists visiting the mausoleum to 40,000 a day. In the past, up to 70,000 people flocked here especially at weekends. According to the experts, this throng was largely responsible for the irreparable damage done to the marble floors, walls and foundations of the building.

The authorities are also struggling to stop the “yellowing” of the white marble caused by atmospheric pollution. Great damage is also caused by droppings of insects from the nearby Yamuna River, one of the most polluted in India. Last July, the Supreme Court had threatened to ban access to the monument or even order its demolishment if the government failed to protect it. The former had also demanded that advice be sought from international experts and conservation work speeded up.