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In an effort to decrease the foot traffic in one of the most photographed landmarks in the world, the Archaeological Survey of India has increased the entry fee for Indian nationals to the Taj Mahal by 400%.

As of Monday, Dec. 10, an all-access ticket to the Taj Mahal has risen from 50 rupees ($0.69 USD) to 250 rupees ($3.46) for Indian locals. For foreign visitors, the entrance fee has also jumped by 15%, rising from £13 ($16.30) to £15 ($18.81) per all-access ticket.

However, these changes were made deliberately to limit the influx of domestic tourists. Aside from being one of the most recognizable tourist attractions worldwide, a majority of visitors to the Taj Mahal are actually Indian. According to the Telegraph, about 40,000 Indian nationals visit the palace a day — that’s about 14.6 million people a year, excluding foreigners.

The ideology behind raising prices is mostly to help preserve the Taj Mahal. As a palace built in the 17th century, the intense foot traffic, coupled with the nearby contaminated river and air pollution, has caused significant and irreversible damage to its edifice. The once pristine white marble has even begun to turn a yellowish-green color due to smog from the surrounding city of Agra. In July, India’s Supreme Court even threatened to shut down the Taj Mahal due to authorities’ failure to prevent further damages to the monument.

Whether these changes will help preserve the condition of the Taj Mahal is up in the air. There are plans in motion, however, to clean up the building’s facade sometime in 2019.

Featured image by Kriangkrai Thitimakorn via Getty Images.

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