Nothing prepares you for the first sight of Taj Mahal. No book, no traveller’s account, nor any published image catches your breath the way a glimpse of the marbled monument does, when it jumps off the horizon.
Unfortunately, neither does anything prepare you for the bureaucratic rudeness, corruption and shabby callousness that greets visitors to India’s most fabled tourist attraction, reports Business Standard.
The Taj attracts close to 3 million visitors every year. It is on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites. It brings in twice as much revenue through tourist visits for the Indian government than any other monument in the country.
And yet, the authorities (the ministry of tourism, the Archaeological Survey of India, and the security forces assigned to the monument) go out of their way to take the sheen off this grand monument. Forget tourism, forget history, forget safety, forget heritage—the only thing being practised here is self-interest and thuggery.
Information about how to get around the site, the facilities available and locational dos and don’ts is scarce and misleading. The official website is not much help either. The infrastructure is inadequate and crumbling. Officials do not help and the place is teeming with touts selling everything from mementos and shoe covers to guided tours and postcards.