Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Remaining out of bounds for the general public for about five months, the doors of the 17th century fort palace Red Fort will reopen for visitors and tourists on Wednesday.
On Monday, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) decided to allow visitors to heritage sites including forts, tombs, and museums under its jurisdiction across the country from June 16.
All 3,693 ASI-protected historical buildings, including 143 ticketed sites and over 50 museums, were shut since April 15 as the coronavirus infections spiked in the country.
In Delhi, there are about 170 historical structures with ASI and only 13 such as Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Safdar Jung’s Tomb, Purana Quila and Hauz Khas have paid entry.
Red Fort, the iconic garrison built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan, was locked for tourists on January 6 in view of bird flu scare after over 60 birds mainly crows were found dead on its premises.
The structure later remained shut till January 26 because of the Republic Day celebrations.
As the farmers’ tractor rally turned violent on Republic Day, the participants vandalised ticket counters, baffle gates, baggage scanners, CCTVs and facilities installed outside the Lahore Gate of the fort.
“All mandatory preparations to maintain Covid protocols have been done. Importantly, Red Fort will also reopen after about five months. Visitors can purchase tickets online or buy tickets by scanning QR code at the site. So far, no order capping the number of tourists at a particular site has been issued,” said an ASI official.
Soon, we will also resume restoration work inside the fort complex, added the official.
“Tickets will also be available at another gate of the Red Fort near ASI parking opposite Sunheri Masijd, which is called Dilli Gate. However, tourists will only be allowed to enter from Lahore Gate. Due to non-availability of labourers during the pandemic, it took a long time to restore security arrangements and ticketing counter at Red Fort,” said another ASI official.
According to ASI officials, daily footfall at Red Fort before Covid pandemic was around 12,000 visitors.