Connect with us

Related Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThe Taj Mahal is located in the northern Indian city of Agra

The iconic Taj Mahal has reopened its doors to visitors after six months – the longest it has ever been shut.

It was closed as the country went into a stringent lockdown in March to halt the spread of coronavirus.

It will now allow only 5,000 visitors daily and enforce Covid-19 safety measures as cases spike in India.

The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s leading tourist attractions, and drew as many as 70,000 people every day before the pandemic.

The 17th-Century marble mausoleum was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal.

It was last shut briefly in 1978 when Agra city, where it is located, flooded. And before that, the monument closed for a few days in 1971, during a war between India and Pakistan.

Selfies allowed, but no ‘group photos’

The entire campus was sanitised before the doors opened at 8am and all officials were seen wearing masks and face shields, local journalist Yogesh Kumar Singh, who was at the monument when it opened, told the BBC.

Authorities said there would be temperature checks at the entrance, and visitors would be asked to use digital payment methods to buy tickets.

image copyrightYogesh Kumar Singh

image captionOfficials were seen wearing masks and face shields

They have also been told to follow social distancing on the property.

While visitors can take selfies or solo photographs, group photos are not allowed.

“But there is no rush, it feels so unlike Taj Mahal,” Mr Singh said. “I think many people will not turn up as long as cases continue to spike.”

India has reported more than five million cases so far, and Uttar Pradesh, where the Taj is located, has the country’s fifth-highest caseload.

  • Reality Check: Whose Taj Mahal is it anyway?

  • Trump to Diana: Iconic Taj Mahal photos through the years

Mr Kumar said it would be interesting to see how authorities enforce safety rules when large groups start visiting the site.

The Taj is surrounded by gardens where visitors spend a lot of time walking around and posing for photographs. But the mausoleum itself is a closed space, with almost no ventilation, making it vulnerable to Covid-19 transmission.

Typically, it is crowded as tourists move in and out of it in long lines.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThe Taj Mahal has always attracted large crowds

A deserted look

Gautam Sharma, who drove from Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal on Monday, said he had been waiting for the day for months.

“I knew not many people will turn up initially, so I thought it will be safe to visit the monument in the first few days of reopening,” he said.

The monument had few visitors waiting at its doors as it opened Monday morning – an unusual sight in its long history.

image copyrightYogesh Kumar Singh
image captionThe entrance of the Taj usually has long queues

It is perhaps India’s most famous monument and is usually part of every foreign dignitary’s itinerary.

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited the Taj in February. Other world leaders who have visited the monument include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Related Topics

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

A Lebanese artist created an inspiring statue out of glass and rubble from the Beirut port explosion

201025180759 02 beirut explosion rubble statue super tease

Written by Alaa Elassar, CNN

Hayat Nazer doesn’t remember a time when Lebanon was at peace. But she has learned to channel her grief and pain into beautiful works of art.

She was on her way to Beirut on August 4 when a massive stockpile of ammonium nitrite exploded at the port, killing 190 people, injuring more than 6,000 and leaving more than 300,000 displaced from their homes.
Lebanon had already been reeling from months of political turmoil, economic collapse and a worsening coronavirus outbreak. The weight of it all had nearly paralyzed the small country.

“The explosion broke my heart. I was just devastated. I was traumatized, but honestly, all of us in Lebanon are traumatized,” Nazer, 33, told CNN.

Like many residents, she joined efforts to clean debris and restore the city to its former glory. That’s when she got the idea to use some of what she found to create a statue that could inspire her people to unite and rebuild.

“When I’m feeling that way I just try to help, and fix and heal through art, so this is my way of accepting reality and trying to build my people back up,” she said.

The unnamed scultpure made from explosion debris depicts a woman with long flowing hair. Credit: Courtesy Hayat Nazer

For weeks, Nazer walked the streets of Beirut, collecting twisted metal, broken glass and people’s discarded belongings to use in the sculpture.

“I traveled to people’s homes after they were destroyed by the explosion and told them, ‘I just want you to give me anything I can include to make you a part of my sculpture,'” Nazer said.

“I was shocked. People gave me such valuable things — things from their childhood, their grandparents who died in the civil war, things they wanted to save for their children. So many emotions went into this.”

When Nazer finally had enough items, she put them together — creating a woman raising Lebanon’s flag, her hair and dress flowing in the wind. The sculpture, which still doesn’t have a name, even features a damaged clock stuck at 6:08, the moment of the explosion.

For Nazer, the process was cathartic. But it wasn’t the first time she had created a work of art inspired by Lebanon’s social and political troubles.

A Lebanese artist made a statue of a woman using glass and rubble from the Beirut port explosion

Nazer stands beside her sculpture of a woman made entirely from Beirut port explosion debris. Credit: Courtesy Hayat Nazer

Before the explosion, as the country descended into months of protests against the country’s ruling elite, Nazer left her job in communications to create art in hopes of inspiring change.

“I suddenly started feeling the need to paint,” Nazer said. “It was a need that I couldn’t stop. I had to quit my job because I felt like I just couldn’t make the change I want to see in the world without focusing on my art.”

Her works include other found object sculptures, as well as graffiti and paintings on canvas.

In 2019, she created a sculpture called “The Phoenix,” which was made from tents broken by counterprotesters during the country’s political upheaval. The work depicts the mythological bird rising from ashes. She also created a giant heart from stones and tear gas canisters left over from riots.
Nazer, who chronicles her projects on Instagram, said most of her work has been destroyed by authorities who don’t take kindly to criticism of the government.

Related video: The architectural heritage Beirut stands to lose

She fears the same fate will befall her latest work, the sculpted woman.

“After an explosion, you can build back homes and buildings, but what you can’t bring back are memories. And throughout Lebanon’s history, our government removes anything that reminds us of what has been done to us,” Nazer said.

“That’s what makes this project so special. It’s fighting. We’re raising our voices through art. We’re telling our own stories.”



Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

Pelosi to run for speaker again if Democrats keep the House

gettyimages 1229219225

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she’ll seek another term as speaker should Democrats keep the House majority in the Nov. 3 elections.

Asked directly by host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether she will run again, Pelosi responded: “Yes, I am. But let me also say that we have to win the Senate.”

The California Democrat, who is 80, first served as speaker from 2007 to 2011 — becoming the first woman in history to hold the post — and was reelected to it in January 2019.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

Andy Burnham Has Blamed Boris Johnson For The Failure To Reach A Deal For Greater Manchester Over A Tier 3 Lockdown

PA 56164982 ztnspf

Andy Burnham has blamed the government for being unwilling to offer enough financial support to Greater Manchester


5 min read

Andy Burnham has blamed Boris Johnson for the collapse in talks over a cash settlement for Greater Manchester as it faces the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

And the region’s mayor has set up a Commons clash over Tier 3 lockdowns by saying he looks to “Parliament to intervene and make a judgement on a fair financial framework”. Labour later said it would force a vote over the restrictions.

In a press conference shortly after it was revealed the government will impose the tightest measures on Greater Manchester without local approval, he said the government had not offered enough to protect people through the “punishing” winter ahead.

Negotiations continued beyond the government’s self-imposed 12pm deadline today, but finally broke down without an agreement to provide extra financial support for the region.

A statement from communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed the outcome, with explicit criticism of the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

“I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the mayor has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government,” Mr Jenrick said.

“I have therefore advised the Prime Minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement.”

But Mr Burnham hit back over the funding for businesses and employees affected by a Tier 3 lockdown, which will see all pubs that cannot operate as a restaurant shut for a minimum of 28 days, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas.

He said local leaders had calculated they needed £90million in extra support, around £15million a month until the end of the financial year.

Having dropped that to £75million during the negotiations in the past week, Mr Burnham told reporters they were prepared to reduce it again to £65million – a figure he described as the “bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship” – but Number 10 would not go above £60million. 

“That is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship, to prevent homelessness,” he said.

“Those were the figures that we had – not what we wanted – but what we needed to prevent all of those things from happening.

“But the Government refused to accept this and at 2pm today they walked away from negotiations.

“In summary, at no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

“Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the Government offered today.”

The government has said it had sought to work with the mayor, council leaders and MPs in the region to find a mutually agreeable solution, but has also repeatedly said the prime minister has the power to unilaterally move the area from “high” to the “very high” category.

It has expressed fears about compliance if the restrictions were not endorsed by the local authorities, but appears willing to act now after projections released by Number 10 yesterday suggested Greater Manchester’s intensive care capacity would be filled within days.

It is now unclear what level of financial help the Treasury will hand over to enter Tier 3, as any lump sum was set to be on top of a £22million payment to pay for additional test and trace services and enhanced enforcement.

This equates to around £8 per person, which is proportionate to the per capita deals struck by Merseyside and Lancashire when they went into the “very high” category last week.

Mr Burnham was highly critical of the process, saying: “I don’t believe we can proceed as a country on this basis through the pandemic, by grinding communities down through punishing financial negotiations.

“We are asking a lot of the public at this difficult time and we need to carry them with us, not crush their spirits.

“We need national unity, and that is why I now look to Parliament to intervene and make a judgement on a fair financial framework for tier three lockdowns, because make no mistake, this was not just about Greater Manchester, all parts of the country may find themselves in a tier three lockdown at some point this winter.

“And what we need to be able to say to people living in those areas, is that they have a guarantee that they can apply for, should they need it, 80% of their wages for their income.

“That is the least that we owe to those people. The money that businesses will be able to rely on to survive. We should be setting out fair financial frameworks.”

In response to the news Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The collapse of these talks is a sign of Government failure.

“The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

“Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

“Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

And William Wragg, the Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in south Manchester, tweeted: The sense of failure is overwhelming.

“I shall avoid political comment until I have heard Matt Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons this evening.

“Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office.”



Source link

0
Continue Reading

Trending