The Indian Railways will launch special train for the Buddhist circuit tour across the country, along with a visit to Nepal also. The tour which will start from Chennai on February 22, 2010 will be a round trip. According to a report in The Hindu, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), will be managing the operation and has offered three rates for budget tourist. Twin-sharing accommodation is priced at 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.
Aimed at catering to budget tourist from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, the 14 days/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 package, however, does not include entrance fee for monuments, medical care and Nepal Visa fee for foreigners.
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 will visit 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.