Indian Railways will run six pilgrim-special trains on different routes from October 25 to promote rail tourism and provide reasonably priced package to tourists. Two of the six trains will cover Bihar – Shikharji Circuit Yatra (6 nights/7 days) from Jaipur through Rajgir, Pawapuri, Parasnath to Varanasi and Takht Parikarma (9N/10 days) from Jammu Tawi through Gwalior, Bidar and Patna Sahib to Delhi.
The other four packages are for Sukhmangalam Yatra from Bangaluru to Hampi, Dham special with Dakshin Darshan from Chandigarh via Lucknow to Ujjain, Dham special with Dakshin Darshan from Chandigarh via Jaipur to Ujjain and Jyotirling Yatra from Jaipur to Bhimshankar Jyotirling. Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been entrusted with the task of running these pilgrim special trains. A few more such pilgrim circuit tourist trains are being planned to start by year-end.
The package includes journey ticket, boarding, on-board/off board meals, road transfers, sightseeing, guide, etc. The passengers of these trains will be tourists only. Union minister of state for culture and tourism (independent charge) Sripad Rao has already announced a special AC train from next year for Buddhist circuit starting from Gaya to Kushinagar via Sarnath to cater to the needs of mainly foreign tourists.
Union tourism ministry has also issued guidelines for holding spiritual festivals at Bodh Gaya during lean (summer) season. These festivals will be organized through Bihar government in collaboration with international monasteries located there. To attract pilgrims from Asian countries to the monasteries located at Bodh Gaya, Union tourism ministry has offered incentives for holding festivals which may be for a week or a fortnight.
“We will help tourists in getting visas and extend other facilities for visiting Bodh Gaya during festivals. Apart from sightseeing, we will provide all kinds of logistic support at an affordable rate,” said a senior ministry official. During the festivals, they can cook their ethnic food and organize cultural festivals as well. Over two dozen monasteries of various countries, including Sri Lanka Japan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Tibet, are located at Bodh Gaya.