After several hiccups,the Punjab government is finally set to give Sikh pilgrims a journey to remember. The Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board in collaboration with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will be offering a week-long luxury tour of five of the most sacred shrines for Sikhs.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is expected to launch the offer next month. Of the five sacred shrines,a special train will carry pilgrims to three takhts located in Punjab. The other two takhts,one in Bihar and the other in Maharashtra,will be covered in the same tour through dedicated flights.
For the part of the journey that will be carried out inside Punjab,a tie-up has been made with IRCTC for the use of its Buddhist circuit train,which is a luxury train operated by IRCTC for Buddhist pilgrims visiting places like Varanasi and Bodh Gaya. The same train will now be used for the Punjab tour. To begin with the PSTDC will offer the tour two to three times a year. In case its popularity picks up,the frequency of the tours can be increased,said a source.
The Punjab government had earlier mooted the idea of running a special train Takh Express that would take pilgrims and tourists to the five Sikh shrines in addition to other pilgrimage spots. The cost of the journey in a luxury train was pegged at over Rs 1 lakh per person,other than the fact that it took over 12 days to complete the journey. The train-flight combination is cheaper and more convenient, said a source.