For the joy of visiting Taj Mahal in the moonlight as on any other night, Taj nature walk is going to be a regular feature instead of once a month.
Awaiting clearance from the Supreme Court, Taj nature walk is a project of the forest department aimed at promoting activity around the world-famous monument and it will be taken up for review by the National Monument Authority (NMA) in March. “Once the authority gives a go-ahead, we will move Supreme Court,” said PCCF, UP, J S Asthana.
Taj nature walk was abandoned in 1997 due to shortage of funds, but it was announced as a new scheme in budget 2013-14. To boost eco-tourism activities around Taj, the department has 22 jobs up its sleeves, right from landscaping to making a cycle track and a butterfly park. But, it requires permission from NMA and SC.
Superintending archaeologist (monuments), Archaeological Survey of India, Agra circle, N K Pathak, said “we did go through the proposal and till 500 metres around the monument, the forest department have planned to set up small huts and plant saplings. There is no permanent structure they have planned to build so we gave our in-principle approval.”
At present, Taj nature walk comprises 25 hectares, from sunrise to sunset. As per the revised project 266 hectares will be covered, and attractions like boat ride in Yamuna, camel safari and night camps would be added. “To make it happen, minor work in east, west and north directions of Taj will be taken up. Tajganj has been left out since it is inhabited,” said N K Janoo, district forest officer at the headquarters.
Additional facilities have to be created without disturbing the existing infrastructure and considering the capacity of the place to entertain tourists.
About 183 hectare forest area at the eastern gate of the Taj will be developed more to provide additional tourist facilities. The mounds in the ravine area, nearest to the Taj, will be beautified to let tourists have a different view of the monument from different altitudes.
The 21-hectare Mumtaz eco-park which lies in Taj corridor area will also be developed to connect Taj and Agra fort.
The project is budgeted at approximately Rs 70 crore.
source: The Times of India, 21 Feb 2014