Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan’s eternal tribute to his beloved wife Mumtaz, retained its honor as the biggest tourist attraction in the country, grossing almost Rs 20 crore out out of the Rs 87 crore earned by the Archaeological Survey of India from monuments last year.
Taj’s earnings were up by 15% in the year ended March 2011 compared to the year before and 30% higher than the two years ago.
Overall, the 116 monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, India’s central agency in charge of excavations and preservation, yielded 11.2% more funds in 2010-11 compared to the previous year — an indirect and close estimation of the increase in tourism activity in India.
Coming a distant second after the Taj was the nearby Agra Fort, which actually saw a decline in revenue last year compared to the previous. Revenues from the Agra fort were down from Rs 11 crore to Rs 10.4 crore.
That decline, however, was not enough for Delhi’s Qutab Minar to overtake the Agra Fort for the second place. The tower, built by the slave-turned-emperor Qutb din Aibak in around 1200 AD, fetched Rs 10 crore, up from Rs 8.9 crore the previous year.
The presence of the Taj, the Agra fort and the Fatehpur Sikri (a short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire) also made Agra the tourist capital of India, at least going by the revenues.
The Agra region earned Rs 37 crore out of the total Rs 87 crore for the ASI, followed by Delhi with almost Rs 23 crore. Between the two, they accounted for almost 70% of ASI’s total revenues from India. The two, however, account for only 18 out of the total 116 monuments at which ASI charges entrance fees.
Bangalore region, which includes the ancient ruins of Hampi, earned just Rs 2.5 crore, while the Chennai region earned Rs 2.9 crore and Hyderabad contributed Rs 1.98 crore.