Senior citizens can now travel to Pashupatinath in Nepal for pilgrimage, that too, free of cost. While announcing the details regarding this free religious tour for 2019-2020, Tourism and Devasthan Minister Vishvendra Singh said that the number of circuits has been increased this year. Also, the age eligibility criteria which was 70 years earlier, has now been lowered to 65 years.
As per this scheme, the Devasthan Department will be providing accommodation and free travel to around 10000 pilgrims (ie, 5000 each for air travel and train). The department will, however, keep five percent of the seats reserved for journalists in both the categories, who should also meet the criteria of being above 60 years of age. In the meeting held recently in the presence of many top officials, it was also decided that this time the retired government officials, who were not eligible to avail this scheme earlier, will also be included in the scheme now.
In the air travel category, Dehradun-Haridwar-Rishikesh, Gangasagar-Dakshineswar Kali Temple-Belur Math-Kolkata, and Pashupatinath-Nepal have been added, which now takes the total number of circuits to nine. As for the train tours, there has been an addition of two more circuits, i.e., Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti (Ajmer Dargah)-Nizamuddin Auliya (Delhi)-tomb of Salim Chishti (Fatehpur Sikri) and Goverdhan -Barsana-Mathura-Vrindavan.
The said free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens will be effective from July 5, and one can fill the application form online. Referring to this development, the minister also mentioned that awareness related to the scheme will also be carried out at the district level to ensure more and more people from rural areas are able to take benefit of such tours.
Source: Times of India