Monday, February 1, 2010

A great train journey,The Hindu

Special train to cover Buddhist circuit

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Railways will launch a special train covering the Buddhist circuit across the country, with a visit to Nepal also thrown in, from Chennai on February 22.

Aiming to cater for budget tourists from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, the 14 day and 13-night, all-paid package tour will also provide hotel accommodation, vegetarian meals, road transfers for sight seeing, and visa assistance. It will be a round trip commencing from and ending at Chennai, obviously targeting Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) has offered three kinds of rates for the budget tourist.

Twin sharing accommodation comes for Rs. 23,650($ 493) per person and triple-sharing accommodation for Rs. 20,600($ 429). For hall or dormitory accommodation, the fare has been pegged at Rs. 16,650. Accommodation will be provided in budget hotels.

The exclusive train, with a pantry car serving wholesome vegetarian food, provides sleeper class accommodation for 500 passengers on each trip. Escort and security on the train will be provided, assures the IRCTC.

The pilgrims get to see 11 sites starting with Buddhist paintings and sculptures in the Ajantha and Ellora Caves; the massive Stupa at Sanchi; Sravasti, capital of the ancient kingdom of the same name; the birthplace of Gautam Buddha at Lumbini in Nepal; the Mahaparinirvana Temple in Kushinagar, Vaishali, where the Buddha preached his last sermon; the evocative ruins of Buddhist monasteries and temples of Nalanda; Rajgir where Buddha preached two of his most famous sermons; Bodh Gaya where the Buddha attained enlightenment; Sarnath where he preached his last sermon, and the excavations of Nagarjunakonda.

The package does not include the entrance fee for monuments, medical care and Nepal visa fee for foreigners. A passenger will forfeit the entire money if he fails to cancel his trip at least one week prior to the scheduled date of departure.

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