New Delhi: All centrally protected monuments, museums and sites under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have been closed with immediate effect till May 15 due to the surge in coronavirus cases in the country, the Union Culture Ministry said on Thursday.
The Taj Mahal too has been shut with immediate effect. Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and other prominent ASI-protected monuments in Agra also have been closed.
An order in this effect was issued by the ASI and it was tweeted by Culture Minister Prahlad Patel.
"Due to the prevailing COVID situation, it has been decided to close all centrally protected monuments, sites and museums under the ASI with immediate effect and till May 15 or until further orders," the ASI said.
Last year, too, all monuments and sites maintained by the ASI were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other than the monuments that come under ASI, famous religious institutions like Thanjavur temple, Brihadeeswarar temple and Kailasanathar temple will also be closed.
However, at temples, devotees will not be allowed in but poojas will continue.
In Varanasi, due to the rising Covid cases, the Varanasi administration has also made it mandatory for all visitors to carry a negative RT-PCR test report of past 72 hours, if they wish to seek accommodation in hotels and visit temples including Kashi Vishwanath, Annapurna and Sankat Mochan temples in the holy city.
The district administration has also advised pilgrims and tourists from across the country to avoid visiting the holy city for pilgrimage in this backdrop.