Chhattisgarh Approves Annual Free Train Travel Scheme To Ayodhya

The initiative, fulfilling Prime Minister Modi's election promises, involves collaboration with IRCTC and includes a night halt in Varanasi for additional religious experiences
Bhagwan Shri Ram Janambhoomi, Ayodhya
Bhagwan Shri Ram Janambhoomi, AyodhyaShutterstock

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Chhattisgarh has given the nod to an annual free train travel scheme, enabling thousands to embark on a spiritual journey to witness the divine spectacle of Lord Ram at the Ayodhya temple. The decision was officially announced after a state cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai on January 10. This initiative is seen as fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promises made during the 2023 assembly elections, marking a significant commitment to religious tourism.

Pilgrim Selection Process and Age Criteria

Under the scheme, a quota of 20,000 people will be chosen to undertake the annual pilgrimage by train. Eligibility for participation extends to individuals between the ages of 18 and 75 deemed medically fit, with priority given to those above 55 in the initial selection phase. A meticulous process will be established, overseen by committees set up under each district's collectors, ensuring a fair and transparent selection of pilgrims.

Implementation and Collaboration with IRCTC

The Chhattisgarh Tourism Board will spearhead the execution of this ambitious venture, and the state tourism department is committed to providing the necessary budget for its smooth operation. An essential Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is set to be inked with the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to facilitate the seamless implementation of the scheme. A dedicated weekly special train will be arranged, departing from stations in Raipur, Durg, Raigarh, and Ambikapur, with Ayodhya as its main destination.

Kashi Vishwanath temple
Kashi Vishwanath templeShutterstock

During the 900-kilometre pilgrimage, pilgrims will experience a night halt in Varanasi, where they will have the opportunity to visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple and partake in the sacred Ganga Aarti. This additional spiritual experience enhances the overall significance of the journey and provides pilgrims with a unique opportunity to enrich their religious and cultural understanding.

It is noteworthy that just last week, the Sai government declared January 22 as a "dry day" to commemorate the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, further underscoring the state's commitment to religious and cultural observances.

(With inputs from PTI)

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