Pilgrims in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh will soon be able to visit the disputed Ayodhya shrine and other places of religious importance in the UP town at government expense.
Ayodhya was on Thursday added to the list of religious places covered under Mukhyamantri Tirtha Darshan Yojana, a popular scheme under which senior citizens and their attendants go on pilgrimage, the entire cost of which is borne by the state government.
More than 2.5 lakh senior citizens have visited different religious places across the country since 2012 when the scheme was announced by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. The scheme has been copied by a few other states. Mathura, Prayag, Ganga Sagar, St Thomas Church (Kerala) and the birth place of Sant Kabir (Lahartara) were the other five places added to the list at a meeting called to review the scheme on Thursday. Besides several Hindu temples, the existing list has one place associated with Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Budhism each.
The government also increased the subsidy for pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. MP is the only state that subsidises travel to holy places in Pakistan (Nankana Saheb Shrine and Hinglaj Mata temple), China (Kailash Man Sarovar), Cambodia (Angkor Vat) and Sri Lanka (Sita Mandir and Ashok Vatika).