NEW DELHI, Nov 25: India's Supreme Court on Thursday lifted a 20-year ban on night viewing of the Taj Mahal. Starting this weekend, the court allowed tourists to view the Taj on full moon nights and two nights before and after the full moon from 8:30pm to half-past midnight.
The court said the night viewing would be allowed for an "initial" period of three months. "We will see after that," a judicial bench said in its order. The court said only 400 tourists would be allowed at a time and tickets would have to be purchased 24 hours in advance.
The ban on night viewing was imposed in 1984 at the height of raging Sikh militancy when it was feared that the monument could come under attack. "Even in half-moon, the nights at the Taj look so beautiful, especially with white marble," Raghu Rai, a renowned photographer who has done a book on the monument, said.
"When moonlight falls on the white marble, it's like a glowing diamond, a jewel in space. You have to sit far away and gradually walk towards it. Full moon is mind-boggling," he added.
The Taj Mahal celebrated its 350th anniversary in September this year. The monument was given a facelift two years ago to remove decades of grime and pollution stains. Some 2.2 million Indians and 800,000 foreigners last year visited the Taj, 200 kilometres from New Delhi. -AFP
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