New Delhi, Oct 6 (UNI) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today flagged off a special train 'Mahaparinirvan' for a Buddhist pilgrimage from India and abroad, particularly from Thailand, Singapore and Korea, to promote tourism in the country.
Speaking on the occasion here, Mr Prasad said, ''This special Rajdhani Express type train will cater to Buddhist tourists. The tour package includes visits to Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha, besides Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Kushinagar.'' ''I thank Tourism Minister Ambika Soni who took special interest and promoted this tour package on international level,'' the Railway Minister said.
''The IRCTC is already running the Bharat Darshan Train for the common man at a fare of Rs 500 per day covering various tourist destinations in the country,'' he added.
Ms Soni, who was present on the occasion, hailed the role of the railways in the present tourism revolution in the country and said, ''Besides the Bharat Darshan train, special trains like the Palace on Wheels 2, Northern Wonder and Southern Wonder have strengthened Indian tourism and contributed in making India the number one tourist destination in the world.'' Ms Soni also lauded Mr Prasad's efforts to soon introduce bio-degradable toilets in every train.
The Mahaparinirvan train covers the whole journey in eight days and seven nights and the passengers will be taken to important destinations linked to the life of Lord Buddha such as Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sravasti. It also includes visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra as its last destination before returning to Delhi.
The package fare of the train is inclusive of road travel, meals, de luxe hotel facilities, sightseeing, monument entry fees, insurance and guide services.
After Mr Prasad flagged off the special train, a demonstration of a coach with environment-friendly and bio-degradable toilet was made.
Among other distinguished guests present on the occasion were MP Chandan Mitra amd MLA Ashok Ahuja.