The Bibi Ka Maqbara, a 17th-century monument here in Maharashtra, received 540 visitors on the first day of opening after the COVID-19-induced lockdown, while the world-famous caves of Ajanta and Ellora together saw nearly 450 tourists, officials said on Friday. These tourist hotspots along with other popular monuments in this central Maharashtra district reopened on December 10 after being closed since March-end due to the lockdown, which has now been eased to a large extent.
Ticketing is being done online to avoid crowding and tourists started visiting the monuments on the very first day of their reopening, an official said. According to the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) circle office in Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora caves, located on the city’s outskirts, saw 86 and 360 (including one foreigner) visitors, respectively.
However, the number of visitors on day 1 of reopening – 540 – was the highest at the Bibi Ka Maqbara, the Mughal-era monument which is an imitation of Agra’s Taj Mahal, the ASI office said. The Daulatabad Fort saw 170 visitors, while ancient- era rock-cut caves located within city limits received 94 tourists, it said.
However, tourist guides who depend heavily on these popular monuments for their livelihood were still to see a pick up in their business. ”Most tourist guides at these monuments were somewhat unlucky to get assignments on day 1. None of the guides from Ajanta had assignments on Thursday.
”Ony two guides got assignments at Ellora,” said Syed Abrar, joint secretary, Ajanta Guides Association.