Punjab on the right ‘Track’

Yatra Train_The Tribune

Yatra trains offer free travel for people from all religious faiths

When it comes to connectivity to religious places, rail network in Punjab has only got stronger. There were times when people had to travel for long hours and had to change trains to reach places of pilgrimage, but with introduction of new trains recently, things have become easier for people hailing from different religions.

The state government has earmarked Rs 187 crore under the free pilgrimage ‘Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra’ scheme, which includes meals during the travel. From each of the 117 constituencies 1000 persons have been selected for pilgrimages.

All of them were required to furnish their identity proof and medical fitness to ensure safety in these trains. The scheme which took off in January this year will end in February next year.

The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Badal had in December announced the scheme. He had announced the move was to provide a comfortable journey to people from all faiths to visit places of their religious interest.

Last month a train with 1000 devotees was flagged off for Hazur Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra. The train, which came as a New Year gift to the Punjabis has 18 coaches and can accommodate 1080 passengers. Nanded, in Maharasthra is an important place of Silk Pilgrimage where 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had stayed.

Their travel is made even more purposeful as each passenger is given a small Sikh holy book for reciting path while they are travelling. The Nanded train also invited praises from the passengers who were not only happy because of the new train being started but got top class hospitality during their travel, including the best food quality which is served on these trains (http://goo.gl/mKqbtj).

As per media reports the passengers got the best medical facilities and were happy for connecting them to their religious places. Doctors were also deployed to deal with emergencies or passengers suffering from travel sickness or seasonal allergies etc.

It was flagged off under the ‘Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra’ programme of the state government, which promises to preserve the rich heritage of the state. The government plans having more such trains which will connect Punjab cities Bathinda, Anandpur Sahib, Tarn Taran, Patiala, Batala, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Beas, having direct connectivity with Nanded.

Eleven more Tirath Yatra trains, including those to Varanasi from Ludhiana and Jalandhar and to Ajmer Sharif from Malerkotla will make the state most connected to the places of religious importance. The first train from Varanasi to Ludhiana reached city on Wednesday.

For the convenience of pilgrims from Malwa region keen on travelling to Varanasi train had left from Bathinda and for those from Doaba region connectivity to Varanasi is from Jalandhar.

In addition, the government has also plans trains to Katra for Maa Vaishno Devi, and to Chennai for Basilica San Thome. The government initiatives are not just restricted to trains but free buses Rajasthan and Chintpurni are also on cards.

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