The Indian Railways will launch its maiden special train covering the Buddhist circuit across the country, with a visit to Nepal also thrown in.

Aiming to cater to budget tourist from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, the 14 days and 13 nights, all-paid package tour will also provide off-board services such as hotel accommodation, vegetarian meals, road transfers for sight-seeing, and assistance for visa formalities for foreign nationals.

The tour which will start from Chennai on February 22 will be a round trip. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will be managing the operation, has offered three rates for the budget tourist.

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

The train provides sleeper class accommodation for 500 passengers on each trip along with a pantry car serving vegetarian food. The IRCTC assures escort and security on the train for the passengers.

The pilgrims get to see 11 Buddhist sites starting with the paintings and sculptures in Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The other sites are: the massive stupa at Sanchi; Sravasti, capital of the ancient kingdom of the same name; the birth place of Gautam Buddha in Lumbini, 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, however, does not include entrance fee for monuments, medical care and Nepal visa fee for foreigners. It has its own cancellation rules, according to which the last date for cancellation is one week before the start date. The passenger will forfeit the entire money if it is cancelled during the week before the trip.

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