When one thinks of Indian Railways, the things that often come to mind are either the trains that run across the length and breadth of the country or the fancy tourism trains such as the Palace on Wheels and the Golden Chariot. But there is now a third kind, which will take travellers on the Ramayana circuit, through places associated with the epic.
The Sri Ramayana Express will start operations on November 14 and is said to be an 800-seat train. It will start its journey from the Safdarjung station of Delhi and complete the India leg in 16 days. Those who want to travel to Sri Lanka and visit places named in the Ramayana will then be transferred to Chennai, from where they can take a flight to Colombo.
The Indian Railways believes that this could be quite an attraction among resident Indians as well as tourists and the fare for the journey has been fixed at Rs 15,120 per person.
"There will be on-board train meals. There will be night stay and wash and change in dharmashalas at the places of visit. We will also cover all transfers and sightseeing and IRCTC tour managers will travel along with the passengers for necessary assistance," an IRCTC official told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.
The train will first stop at Ayodhya, where travellers can visit the Hanuman Garhi, Ramkot and the Kanak Bhawan Temple. It will then continue the journey to Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringaverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameshwaram.
Meanwhile, Rajni Hasija, director (tourism) of IRCTC said that the Sri Ramayana Express is yet to see some major response but expect good revenue. "We see good revenue on this circuit. Right now date of first train has been announced and after seeing the response, we will decide whether to run the train once or twice in a year," he told HT.