Delhi

Second train to Ayodhya leaves tomorrow

The second train to Ayodhya under the Delhi Government’s free pilgrimage scheme will depart with a fresh contingent of nearly 1,000 pilgrims on a four-day trip on Friday.

The first train on the Delhi-Ayodhya-Delhi route of the Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana was flagged off from the Safdarjung railway station by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal a week ago.

According to Government sources, the pilgrimage to Ayodhya, which was added to the list of destinations under the scheme in late November, is already gaining popularity.

“After the launch of the Ayodhya route, 40 to 50 enquiries about the scheme are being received at the local offices of MLAs across the city on a daily basis. Most of these are regarding Ayodhya,” said a Government source.

“We are in the process of arranging trains to ply under the scheme for the coming months because of its fresh popularity after being briefly stalled due to COVID-19. We are expecting the applications to increase manifold after the end of the ongoing marriage season,” the source added.

While Rameshwaram, with over 15,000 applications, is the most sought-after destination under the scheme, followed by Dwarkadhish with 5,922 requests, there have already been close to 2,000 applications for a pilgrimage to Ayodhya to to pay obeisance to Shri Ram Lalla.

Since the launch of the pilgrimage scheme in July 2019, almost 5,000 applicants have visited Rameshwaram and over 3,000 have made a trip to Dwarkadhish.

In comparison, Ayodhya, for which the application process started last week, has already been visited by a 1,000 pilgrims and a similar number of people are looking forward to the second trip. Almost 45,000 citizens — including pilgrims and their attendants — are scheduled to be sent over the coming days, according to sources.

This, even as Government sources said representatives from the Christian community are in the process of being consulted on the modalities of pilgrimage to the Velankanni Church, which would take off over the coming days.

Addition to routes

“There used to be 12 listed routes to which the people could avail of the free pilgrimage scheme. Till now, over 36,000 people have been on pilgrimage thanks to this scheme,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a digital briefing on November 24. Ayodhya, Velankanni Church and Kartarpur Sahib have been added to the list of destinations recently.

The pilgrimage scheme was approved by the Delhi Cabinet on January 9, 2018. It provides Government assistance to senior Delhi residents, specifically those belonging to the economically weaker sections, to go on pilgrimages with an attendant.

The Delhi Government facilitates these tours through the IRCTC, offering AC trains and AC hotel rooms to devotees; the entire expense to and fro is borne by the Delhi Government along with an insurance cover of ₹1 lakh.

According to Kamal Bansal, chairman of the Delhi Government’s Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti which oversees the scheme, its genesis lies in a devotional programme organised by the administration on the occasion of Mahashivratri in 2018.

“While observing devotees naming the various Jyotirlingas (shrines), the Chief Minister wondered aloud whether a scheme could be initiated around facilitating their visits to these places; that is how we decided to examine the possibility and here we are,” Mr. Bansal said.

“Demand for longer routes appears to be high because they have been available for longer, but Ayodhya is emerging as a very sought-after destination now. We expect the demand on all routes to spiral soon after the wedding season ends and are making requisite arrangements,” said Mr. Bansal.


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 11:16:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/second-train-to-ayodhya-leaves-tomorrow/article37906072.ece

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