The Archaeological Survey of India plans to utilize the lockdown period in the conservation of Taj Mahal premises, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri. Where monuments maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been closed till May 15 due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, the central government organization will make use of this time to carry out conservation work at the premises of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri, in Agra. The reason behind conducting such conservation work is to make the monuments more beautiful and appealing for the tourists on their reopening. Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Agra Circle, Vasant Kumar Swarnkar informed that since monuments have been closed till May 15 because of the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases, this time will be utilized in the conservation of the iconic Taj Mahal premises, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri. He further added, that during the shutdown period, mud pack treatment will be used on the main dome of the Taj Mahal while conservation of the miners in the monument will also be covered. Vasant Kumar Swarnkar also mentioned that the old stones of pietra dura art at the royal gate will be altered and the royal gate itself will be revamped. Mud pack treatment has been regularly used by the ASI to get rid of yellow stains that have appeared over the years on Taj Mahal’s white marble front. The treatment is believed to assist in restoring the natural shine and colour of the monument. In Fatehpur Sikri, the Archaeological Survey of India plans to carry out conservation of Todarmal Baradari, Hamam, and Samosa Mahal within the Mughal-era premises. At the time of renovation and conservation, the guidelines of COVID-19 will be strictly followed, Swarnkar added. The budget proposed for the renovation and conservation of the monuments' premises was about Rs. 1 crore that was proposed in the last financial year. Vice-president of Tourism Guild of Agra Rajeev Saxena appreciated the step and said the Taj Mahal and the other monuments will be getting a new look. This initiative is likely to provide a 'Wah Taj!' experience to visitors when the monuments are reopened after the conservation process, based on the guidelines provided by the government. He also discussed how the Indian railways, last year, had utilized the pandemic-related lockdown period in renovating and working on other developments for the travellers to enjoy a better experience. Similarly, this initiative by ASI Agra would have a great impression on tourists, Saxena added.
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