It has opened up India for domestic tourists by giving people a chance to travel in comfort and on a limited budget to tourist destinations across the country without any hassles.
Bharat Darshan, joint venture special tourist train of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC), a government of India enterprise, and Indian Railways, has become one of the most sought-after mode to visit places of interest and worship in other southern states, north, central, western and eastern regions.
The key attraction of the tour package, which includes food and accommodation, is that it suits the purse of the middle class. Travellers need not have to bother about sightseeing, local transport, food or accommodation as all arrangements are taken care of.
The tour itinerary has been worked out by the IRCTC in such a way to include even shopping.
The special tourist train has also come as a boon for senior citizens and middle class families.
A modified rake of the railways with 485 second class III-tier seats has been pressed into service for Bharat Darshan.
Tourists need not worry of short-distance commuters as other travellers are not allowed to board the tourist train.
In addition to a security guard, managers have been deployed in all coaches. Dormitory accommodation is provided at the tourist destinations where there is night stay. Luxury buses are made available for sightseeing. Those who need separate rooms will have to pay additional money at each destination.
The pantry will serve only vegetarian food and the emphasis is on south Indian dishes. The menu is fixed. As many as 60 personnel are deployed to take care of the pantry and to serve food.The railways have entered into a tie-up with Travel Times, a firm based in Chennai, to run the project.
T.K. Abdul Majeed, managing partner of the Kozhikode-based Associated Travels, who is the general sales agent for Travel Times in the State, said the good response to the tours from the State had led to the announcement of three more tour packages.
The new tour packages include the 10-day Bangalore- Puttaparthi- Mumbai- Shirdi-Ajantha- Ellora- Hyderabad from January 17; 13-day Allahabad- Kasi-Gaya- Haridwar-Rishikesh- Delhi-Agra- Mathura from February 11 and the 14-day Jaipur- Delhi-Agra- Varnasi- Kolkata- Puri-Konark- Bhubaneswar from March 17. For details, contact 94471-85668
P.B. Nandanan and his wife, Sudha P. Thankachi, from Kalady in the capital, who travelled in the train to Kashi- Konark- Allahabad- Kolkata, said the package was worth the money paid.
S. Anil Radhakrishnan