The Taj Mahal and 4 other monuments earned Rs 146.05 crore, more than half the total revenue generated by centrally-protected monuments, in 2017-18.
New Delhi: Fringe Hindu groups and even some BJP leaders may have sought to belittle their significance but official data shows that India’s top five revenue generating monuments were all built by Muslim rulers – the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Qutub Minar, Fatehpur Sikri and Red Fort.
While Qutub Minar was built by rulers of the Delhi Sultanate, the rest were constructed by the Mughals.
These five monuments together earned the government Rs 146.05 crore in 2017-18, according Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) data. This is more than half the total revenue of Rs 271.8 crore generated by all centrally-protected monuments.
The Taj Mahal, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent years, with the Supreme Court last month pulling up the ASI for its poor maintenance, continued to be the highest earner at Rs 56.83 crore.
While some politicians sparked a controversy last year by arguing that the Mughal-era monument did not represent Indian culture, the number of visitors to it, both Indian and foreign, only increased since 2016-17.
A total of 64.58 lakh people visited the Taj Mahal in 2017-18 compared to 50.66 lakh in 2016-17.
Last year, the UP tourism department had even omitted the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO world heritage site, from a brochure listing the state’s principal attractions.
With total earnings of Rs 30.55 crore, Agra Fort built by Mughal emperor Akbar, another UNESCO world heritage site, was the second highest revenue generator in the last financial year.
While the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha came second after the Taj Mahal in terms of number of visitors (32.3 lakh), it generated only Rs 10.06 crore as revenue. This, officials said, is because the temple is mostly popular only with Indian tourists, with 32.21 lakh domestic visitors making the trip last year.
While Indian tourists are charged Rs 30 per head as entry fee to world heritage monuments across the country, foreign tourists have to pay Rs 500 each.
“It is impossible to communalise the entire Indian population through the meaningless political venom spewed by politicians,” said historian S. Irfan Habib, explaining the increase in visitors to the Taj.
“No matter what they say about the Taj Mahal and Red Fort, Indians will continue going there,” he added.
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