Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will pilot a special Buddhist pilgrimage flight from Bangkok to Bodhgaya in Bihar this Saturday.
The Prince trained as a pilot while he held positions in the Royal Thai armed forces. His ‘journey of faith' will mark the 50th anniversary of Thai Airways, the Ambassador of Thailand to India, Krit Kraichitti told HT.
On board with the Prince will be his wife Princess Srirasmi and their two children. Their pilgrimage is expected to boost religious tourism in India whose ‘Look East' policy is matched by Thailand's ‘Look West' initiatives.
Bodhgaya is an important spiritual centre for Buddhists the world over. Devotees accompanying the Thai Royalty will visit the Mahabodhi Temple and offer prayers at the Bodhi Tree where Buddha attained enlightenment.
The two-way ticket on the special Boeing 737-400 flight costs 500,000 Baht ($16,666, or R7 lakh) as against the normal $1,385 fare. The high profile entourage includes Thai ministers, businesspersons and ranking officials of state enterprises and the government.
The group will also visit a Thai monastery, Wat Thai Buddhagaya, where the Crown Prince will present his royal insignia pin — made of royal blue enamel and diamonds — to passengers who flew with him.
Ambassador Krit said the flight's proceeds would be presented to King Bhumibol Adulyadej for Prince Maha's Scholarship Foundation and Prince Dipangkorn's Fund for Disaster Victims. He felt the royal pilgrimage would further strengthen ties between India and Thailand.