820 monuments with places of worship to reopen today

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NEW DELHI: As part of efforts to reopen public facilities as the lockdown eases, culture and tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel announced on Sunday that 820 monuments managed by the Archaeological Survey of India, and which have places of worship on their premises, will be thrown open to public from Monday.
These will not, however, include Maharashtra, where there are 65 such monuments under the ASI, because of the large number of coronavirus cases in the state. Access to monuments will be partially restored elsewhere with Karnataka topping the list with 153 monuments with places of worship. Uttar Pradesh follows with 111 monuments, including the Jami Masjid and Humayun Masjid in Agra, and the temples of Govind Deo, Radha Ballabh and Madan Mohan in Mathura. Gujarat and Tamil Nadu with 77 and 75 protected monuments follow with the largest number of monuments with places of worship on their premises.
Delhi, which is home to 14 such ‘living monuments’ will have the Nila Mosque at Hauz Khas enclave, the Qutub archaeological area and the Lal Gumbad, among others, open to public. The ministry also named 10 archaeological sites which it said host “unauthorised worship”, but will be opened nevertheless. Prominent among these, are the tomb of Safdurjung, the tomb of Nizamuddin Aulia and Kotla Feroz Shah. A total of 3,691 centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by ASI were shut down from March 17.
Patel, however, said all archaeological sites are expected to follow all safety and hygiene norms laid down by the ministries of health. Sources in the ministry said wearing of masks is likely to be made mandatory when the sites are opened. “All protocols issued by the MHA and the health ministry will be followed,” Patel said.
According to region-wise distribution, ASI monuments with places of worship that will open from Monday include 114 from the northern region, 155 from the central region, 120 from the western region, 279 from the southern region and around 100 from the eastern region. Given the criteria that these are not places of worship, some of the bigger monuments like Red Fort in Delhi or the Taj in Agra are not on the list.
According to government guidelines, the use of hand hygiene (sanitiser dispenser) and thermal screening provisions are to be made compulsory at the entrance and only asymptomatic persons shall be permitted entry at premises. All persons will be permitted entry only if they are using masks or face covers. It also stated that footwear or shoes should be preferably taken off.

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