As part of its efforts to promote temple tourism in the state, Andhra Pradesh government is set to introduce helicopter services to important temple towns from Vijayawada. Summit Aviation, a private operator, will operate the helicopter tours, while the state government will provide necessary logistical support, including ‘darshan’ for pilgrims in important temples like Tirumala.
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According to Principal Secretary (Revenue-Endowments) J S V Prasad, Summit Aviation will initially operate heli-tourism services from Vijayawada to Tirupati and Srisailam. The state government directed collectors of Krishna and Chittoor districts to build helipads in Vijayawada and Tirupati on a war footing so as to launch the copter services soon. The existing helipad at Sunnipenta near Kurnool will also be utilised for Srisailam trip.
“The government has been making efforts to connect major religious places by air and provide hassle-free ‘darshan’, transport, accommodation and other facilities to pilgrims. The NRI community has been repeatedly requesting the government to provide air services. We have given priority to tourism in general and religious tourism in particular in view of its enormous potential to the state’s economy,” Prasad said in an order on Monday.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has been asked to provide accommodation and darshan facility to the “heli-pilgrims”.
“This will promote heli-tourism, besides making darshan of Tirumala, Srisailam, Kalahasti and Tiruchanur Devasthanams easier for non-resident Telugus (NRT),” the Principal Secretary said.