Railways to launch 3 more Ramayana Express trains from Jaipur, Rajkot and Madurai
The trains will make stops at Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringaverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameshwaram, or the nearest railway stations to these locations. The railways will facilitate trips by road from the station to the pilgrimage sites, said an IRCTC official.
The ‘Ramayana circuit’, covering locations associated with the Hindu epic, is turning into a new mode for revenue of Indian Railways, which is launching three more Ramayana Express trains from different parts of the country after getting a good response for the first one starting on November 14 from Delhi to Chennai , according to officials familiar with the development.
The officials said that while special tourist trains usually have an occupancy of 50-60%, seats for the inaugural ride of the Ramayana Express were sold out within 15 days after the train was announced on July 7.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is now launching similar trains from Rajkot, Jaipur and Madurai. All four trains will cover Ayodhya, which, according to the epic, is the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram. They will also go to other locations named in the epic, such as Hanuman Garhi, Ramkot and the Kanak Bhawan temple.
The trains will make stops at Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringaverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameshwaram, or the nearest railway stations to these locations. The railways will facilitate trips by road from the station to the pilgrimage sites, said a senior IRCTC official who asked not to be named.
The railways may add different boarding points and stops, as per the demand from passengers.
The Madurai train will also start on November 14 and will charge R15,830 per passenger. The cost for the train starting in Delhi is R 15120.
“The demand for the Ramayana circuit has prompted us to launch more trains covering the route. The train from Madurai will also cover Nasik, Darbhanga, Devipatinam and Thirupullani. There is another one starting from Jaipur on November 22 which will come to Delhi picking up passengers from Alwar and Rewari and then start the Ramayana journey. We will either call it Ramayana Yatra or Shri Ramayana express. The train from Rajkot will start on December 7, and we are also exploring the possibility of launching more trains,” said the IRCTC official cited above.
The train from Rajkot will have boarding points in Surendranagar, Viramgam, Sabarmati, Anand , Vadodara, Godhra, Dahod and Meghnagar, another IRCTC official said.
The trains will have sleeper class coaches with a room for 800 passengers. Those interested in a separate Sri Lanka-leg can opt to travel to Colombo from Chennai by flight, the second official added.
“There was always demand for travel for Ayodhya, but no travel company was able to offer a package where they will show every place related with Lord Ram. Some individual triad but it was either hectic or costly. This is a very good move by railways and will always give them profit as religious tourism always attract big crowd,” said Subhash Goyal, secretary of federation of associations in Indian tourism and hospitality.
IRCTC is targeting religious tourism to generate revenue and has asked the Railway Board to allow it to buy three trains to be run on the routes identified by them. IRCTC already runs Budha circuit train, which are luxury coaches and mostly targets foreign tourists.