The great response to the first Ramayana Express has given fillip to launch more such trains on Ramayana tourist circuit. The average occupancy for normal tourist trains is 50-60 percent but the seats for the inaugural ride of the Ramayana Express on November 14, were sold within 15 days after the ride was announced on July 7. This encouraged Indian Railways to launch three more trains from Jaipur, Madurai and Rajkot on Ramayana tourist circuit. “The demand for the Ramayana circuit has prompted us to launch more trains covering the route. The train from Madurai will also cover Nasik, Darbhanga, Devipatinam and Thirupullani. There is another one starting from Jaipur on November 22 which will come to Delhi picking up passengers from Alwar and Rewari and then start the Ramayana journey. We will either call it Ramayana Yatra or Shri Ramayana express. The train from Rajkot will start on December 7, and we are also exploring the possibility of launching more trains,” said an IRCTC official. The train from Rajkot is expected to have halts at Surendranagar, Viramgam, Sabarmati, Anand, Vadodara, Godhra, Dahod and Meghnagar.
The first train on the circuit is set to run on November 14 from Delhi to Chennai. The train will pass through Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama and the journey will end at Rameshwaram, along the route Lord Rama took towards Lanka. The train journey will start from Safdarjung railway station and take the same route down south as that of Lord Rama, passing through Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringaverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi, and Rameshwaram. “There was always demand for travel for Ayodhya, but no travel company was able to offer a package where they will show every place related with Lord Ram. Some individual triad but it was either hectic or costly. This is a very good move by Indian Railways and will always give them profit as religious tourism always attract big crowd,” said Subhash Goyal, secretary of federation of associations in Indian tourism and hospitality.
Since Ramayana is the most popular epic in the country as well as in the region of South and South East Asia, the train journey is expected to attract many national and international tourists. The complete journey of the Ramayana circuit will take 16 days to complete. People will travel to Rameshwaram by train, after which those who wish to complete the journey to Colombo will travel to Chennai by train and then they may get a flight to Colombo. At every step of this journey, there will be Dharamshalas to stay, wash and change. The name of this train will be Sri Ramayana Express and the journey would cost Rs 15,120 per person (within India). The train from Madurai will also start on November 14 and will charge 15,120 rupees per person. The capacity of these special tourist trains is 800 passengers and Indian Railways will decide whether to run the train service once or twice in the year after having seen the initial response.
Religious tourism is one of the most popular forms of tourism in the country, as thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine of Vaishno Devi in Jammu every year. The Amarnath Yatra is made by millions of people every year despite all the hurdles they face in the way. Though, religious tourism has enormous potential, previous governments have never tried to create an infrastructure for it to grow and thrive under Indian Railways. However, Piyush Goyal led ministry does not carry the baggage of ‘pseudo-seculars’ and has decided to push for religious tourism. Rajni Hasija, tourism director at IRCTC said, “We see good revenue on this circuit.” The push to religious tourism will reap great financial benefits for Railways and economies of cities and villages on Ramayana religious circuit will prosper.