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Agra heat fails to deter tourists

Agra, June 21 (Calcutta Tube) Despite the heat wave that has sent day temperatures soaring to 40-45 degrees Celsius, there is no marked drop in the tourist inflow into the Taj city.

‘This time of the year, it’s the Indian tourists — students, pilgrims from Char Dham Yatra and Ajmer Urs, and the budget traveller — who take advantage of the off-season discounts,’ said Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.

‘In the last few years, we have been noticing that there is hardly any lean season. Tourists continue to visit the Taj city round the year,’ said Surendra Sharma, president of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of Agra.

‘This calls for a new strategy to address the challenge posed by heat in Agra to make the tourists’ stay comfortable,’ he said.

On an average, 7,500 tourists daily visit Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, India’s biggest tourist attraction.

On Sunday, an elderly tourist from Ukraine and two female tourists from Hyderabad fainted because of the scorching heat. ‘I have just emptied a bottle of water over my head to keep myself cool,’ said an exasperated Australian tourist at the Taj.

Another tourist was seen covering his head with a wet towel and pouring water on his feet at the marble monument.

The maximum temperature Sunday was 45 degrees Celsius.

The rush of pilgrims returning from the Ajmer Urs has added to the number of tourists visiting the Taj.

‘We hope it would rain in a day or two, otherwise these tourists will have a tough time,’ said tourist guide Ved Gautam.

Hoteliers expect a major rush next Friday when the Taj will be opened, like every week, for a few hours in the afternoon for prayers.

‘On Fridays entry to Taj is free for Muslims wanting to offer prayers. This Friday we expect a big rush,’ said hotelier Sandip Arora.

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