The Charminar and the Golconda Fort, two of Hyderabad’s most famous monuments, were re-opened for visitors on Monday, only to be shut again as authorities took a U-turn.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is responsible for the upkeep of the centrally protected monuments, went back on its decision after the Telangana government opposed their re-opening as both were located close to areas witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Few people had booked their tickets online and were allowed entry but sale of tickets was stopped after local authorities expressed the apprehension that re-opening of the monuments could lead to violation of social distancing and other Covid-19 norms.
It was brought to the notice of the ASI’s Hyderabad Circle officials that both the monuments were located in densely populated areas witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Sources said lack of coordination between the ASI and the local authorities led to the embarrassing situation.
The municipal authorities and police brought to the notice of ASI officials that entry of visitors to the Charminar could lead to overcrowding as the monument has a narrow staircase. Similarly they raised the apprehension that allowing entry into the Golconda Fort may create problems as they have barred the devotees from participating in Bonalu celebrations in the historic fort in view of the pandemic.
While announcing re-opening of protected monuments last week, the ASI had stated that those in containment zones will remain closed.
Though both the Charminar and the Golconda Fort don’t fall in containment zones, they are located near densely populated areas with some of the neighbourhoods witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases.
In fact, traders in the markets around the Charminar have voluntarily shut down their shops to check spread of the virus.
Both the monuments were shut since March 22, when the state government imposed lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.
The ASI had earlier announced that on re-opening not more than 2,000 visitors would be allowed in both the places.
Officials had said they would ensure strict adherence to safety protocols issued for all the centrally protected monuments and visitors.