The Mahaparinirvan Express, a special air-conditioned tourist train that connects prominent Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the country during a 15-day tour, will be launched by the Indian Railways from Chennai on January 12.
Basically meant for visiting foreign tourists from Buddhist countries, who are keen to see the places associated with Lord Buddha, the new train provides them with a comprehensive package tour where the cost includes travel fare, hotel accommodation, meals, road transport for sightseeing as well as entry tickets and guide services at the pilgrimage sites.
The train will go to places like Guntur, Aurangabad, Bhopal, Agra, Delhi, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Gaya and Bhubaneshwar before returning to Chennai. The tour will also cover Lumbini in Nepal, the birth place of Buddha.
Mahaparinirvan Express will be operated by the Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) which runs several luxury tourist trains like the famous Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan and the Deccan Odyssey in Maharashtra.
The difference is that this new tourist train is slightly more affordable than the luxury specials where one has to shell out a minimum of $ 400 per day.The Buddhist pilgrimage train will have Rajdhani Express-like accommodation with berths in the AC-I, II and III categories to suit different budgets.
The fares would be US $ 120 for AC-I, $ 90 for AC-II and $ 80 for AC-III per person per day. Indian tourists who want to go on the train tour can pay the equivalent fare of Rs 5,280, Rs 3,960 and Rs 3,520 per head daily.