Covid effect: ASI shuts monuments yet again for visitors

The decision will adversely affect tourist guides, Tanga owner who are largely depending on visitors for their livelihood

BIJAPUR, 16 April: The ancient and protected monuments of Bijapur are yet again shut for the public after the spike in the Covid cases in the district.

This is for the second time, the decision has been taken to ban the entry of people to the protected monuments to prevent the spreading of Covid.

While last year, the monuments were closed for the longest period of around four months, this time the government closed the monuments for a month starting April 15.

In the order issued by the Archeological Survey of India, all protected monuments will remain shut for the visitors from April 15 till May 15. The decision has been taken in view of the prevailing Covid condition.

According to sources, all 81 protected monuments of the district coming under ASI will remain closed for the general visitors for a span of one month.

Though the decision has been taken to keep the monuments closed for a month, however the possibility of extending the order is not ruled out based on the rising Covid situation, the sources said.

It may be noted that the monuments had remained closed for the longest period in its history for the people as the government had banned the entry of visitors for around four months in 2020.

“ Never in the past, the monuments of Bijapur remained closed for people for this long period. Since the Covid situation is prevailing again, the decision has been taken to close them for a month to prevent the spreading of virus”, the sources said.

Sources added that among all protected monuments of Bijapur city, the historic Gol Gumbaz receives the highest number of visitors with the number of visitors crossing 1500/day on several occasions.

After the reopening of monuments in July last year and lifting of lockdown, the visitors started arriving. But the officials said that the number began reducing gradually after February when the cases of Covid started increasing rapidly.

Meanwhile, the shutting down of the monuments for one more month, it has acted hard again on the life of the people who were depending on visitors for the earning.

They include the tourist guides, the canteen owner and the local transporters such as rickshaw and Tanga (horse- driven cart) whose large share of earning was coming from the visitors.

“ After the lifting of lockdown, we gradually started earning as our total earnings had gone for toss when the monuments were shut. Just when our lives were coming back to track gradually, the decision of closing down the monuments again, has acted as a blow to our livelihood”, said Jahangir Kudgi, a tourist guide who is working at Gol Gumbaz.

Similar is the situation of Tanga owners who were essentially depending on visitors for their earning as local people do not prefer to use this ancient mode of transport.

“ Since Bijapur is among a very few places where Tanga  is still used to mode of transport, the outsiders who come to Bijapur to see various monuments, prefer to travel in Tanga for a different experience. If the monuments are shut, then it means our livelihood is also shut”, said Bandenawaz Pathan, one of the Tanga owners of the city.

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