COVID-19: Qutub Minar gets max footfall, turnout very low at ASI monuments in Delhi on day 1

New Delhi, Jul 7 () ASI-protected monuments were reopened for the public on Monday but the footfall on day one was very low, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the national capital crossed the one lakh-mark.

Qutub Minar, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, attracted maximum crowd of just 100 visitors, sources said.

The 12th century minaret on regular days gets a footfall in the range of 8,000-10,000, according to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials.

The footfall at other sites was -- Humayun's Tomb (70-80), Purana Quila (20-22), Safdarjung Tomb (8) and Jantar Mantar (12), roughly, as per official figures, the sources said. Advertisement

Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb and a host of other centrally-protected monuments in Delhi on Monday were reopened for visitors after being shut for over three months due to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, wearing of masks is mandatory and no one is allowed to enter if they are not wearing it, a senior official said.

The Red Fort, which on regular days is closed every Monday, remained closed and reopened on Tuesday.
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"While the monuments have been reopened, visitors can book tickets in either of the two slots -- forenoon slot which starts in the morning and ends at 12 noon -- and afternoon slot from 12 noon to 6 pm. In each slot, a maximum of 1,500 visitors will be allowed," the official said.

So, around 12 noon in the afternoon slot on Tuesday, out of the 1,500 tickets for the Red Fort, 1,478 were still unpurchased, according to live ticketing figures accessed from the ASI website. Around 4:15 pm, the unbought tickets for the Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar stood at 934 and 1,438, respectively, while the same figure stood at 987 for the Safdarjung Tomb, according to official figures. Advertisement

Delhi's ASI-protected monuments have been reopened for the public as per the directions of the culture ministry.

All protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) as outlined by the ministry are being followed, including social distancing and sanitisation measures at these heritage sites, officials said.

Incidentally, the monuments reopened for the public on a day Delhi COVID-19 tally breached the one lakh-mark as the city recorded 1,379 fresh coronavirus cases, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 3,115. Advertisement

There are 173 monuments in Delhi, protected under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar; Safdarjung Tomb, Purana Quila, Tughlakabad Fort, Hauz Khas, Jantar Mantar and Firoz Shah Kotla.

According to the officials, on regular days, the Red Fort gets an average daily footfall in the range of 8,000-12,000 while the Humayun's Tomb gets 6,000-10,000, and both these monuments are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

However, the Humayun's Tomb attracts more foreign visitors in general, they said. Advertisement

A total of 3,691 centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the ASI across the country were shut from March 17 in view of the coronavirus crisis.

The officials said the reopening of sites have been done in compliance with the city and district authorities.

The culture ministry recently had issued a set of protocols, saying only those monuments which are in non-containment zones will be reopened. Advertisement

The number of containment zones in the city on Monday stood at 455.

As per the protocol, entry tickets being issued by e-mode and only e-payments acceptable at parking and cafeteria at the sites. No group photography and food or eatables shall be allowed inside the premises, it said. KND KJ
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