Lucknow: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is set to launch an 18-day ‘Shri Ramayana Yatra’ through a special tourist train on June 21 to take pilgrims to sacred places associated with the life of Lord Ram, officials said on Wednesday. Booking is on for the tour on the Ramayana circuit by ‘Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train’ which will start from Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station on June 21, Ajit Kumar Sinha, chief regional manager of IRCTC, Lucknow, told reporters here.
The 18-day journey by train, which has 11 third AC class coaches with an accommodation capacity of around 600 passengers, will cost a passenger ₹ 62,370, the officials said. The tour package aims at realising devotees’ dreams to visit places, where Lord Ram, his wife Goddess Sita and Lord Laxman had set foot while undertaking an exile in the forest for 14 years, Sinha said.
The train will run on the Ramayan circuit identified under the Swadesh Darshan scheme covering prominent places that include Ayodhya, Janakpur (Nepal), Sitamarhi, Buxar, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Shringverpur, Chitrakoot, Nashik, Hampi, Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram and Bhadrachalam (also known as Ayodhya of South India).
Mr Sinha said that it is for the first time that a tourist train will go from India to Nepal, and connect the two religious cities of Ayodhya and Janakpur. The boarding points, apart from Delhi, are Aligarh, Tundla, Kanpur and Lucknow, he said, adding that the cost of a ticket is uniform irrespective of the station passenger boards from.
Mr Sinha said the tour plan includes food, stay in the hotel and guide services at the points of visit. The interiors of the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train, which will return to Delhi on the 18th day of its journey covering roughly a distance of around 8,000 kilometres, will be based on the Ramayana epic, the officials said.
As many as 285 bookings have already been done from various parts of the country, Mr Sinha said, adding the maximum 61 bookings are from Maharashtra followed by 55 from Uttar Pradesh.
The IRCTC has also tied up with Paytm and Razorpay payment gateways for providing EMI options to passengers. Besides, an early bird discount of 5 per cent on fares will be given to the first 50 per cent of passengers. The EMI payment option given by the IRCTC is also for the first time, Mr Sinha said.