October 26 2022: The Indian Tourism Statistics 2022, released on World Tourism Day, last month, revealed an interesting fact: the UNESCO Heritage Site and ancient port of the Pallava kingdom, Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram) 60 kms from Tamil Nadu state capital, Chennai, attracted more international visitors during the year 2021-22 than perennial favourite, the Taj Mahal in Agra.
The southern heritage town received 144,984 --- that is 45.5 percent of all foreign tourists, compared to a mere 38,922 foreigners who visited the Taj ( that is, jut 12.21 percent.)
Domestic tourist arrivals, state-wide
When it came to domestic tourist too, Tamil Nadu was the top destination with 115.33 million visitors. Uttar Pradesh, home to the Taj, came second with 109.70 million, Andhra Pradesh was third with 93.27 million and Karnataka the fourth with 81.33 million. Maharashtra is number 5 with 43.56 million.
TTH Times has its own theory about why foreign tourists are keeping away from the Taj: the stiff entry fee which around $ 14 (Rs 1100) for NRIs and other nationalities, when Indians pay around just Rs 50. This is just for the grounds. For entering the mausoleum, an additional fee of Rs 200 needs be paid This may rise again because Agra City and the Archaeological Department want to add another Rs 200-300 for their part. If you add entrance fees to Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra, a stop in Agra can be a very pricey option. Link to Taj and Agra ticketing here.
Mahabalipuram too practices this sort of discrimination of foreign visitors which is a phenomenon unknown in most of the world’s top tourist spots. But the rates are more reasonable: Entrance to the Shore Temple is: Indians Rs 25. Foreigners: Rs 500. Museum Rs 100.
Read our news story on India Tourism 2022 here
Read the full Indian Tourism Statistics in PDF here