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The Punjab government’s Sikh circuit pilgrimage train, Panj Takht Express, will undertake its first journey on December 30, 2012.
The official announcement was jointly made on August 6, 2012 in New Delhi by the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). At the function, Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, launched the package. Bookings for the tour can be made on the IRCTC website. Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Minister for Tourism, Punjab, and Geetika Kalha, Principal Secretary, Punjab Tourism, were also present at the event, among others. The pilot trip is a joint initiative by PHTPB and IRCTC.
The six-night-seven-day pilgrimage tour will commence by train from Delhi to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, and will visit holy places like Sarhind, Bathinda, and Anandpur Sahib in Punjab before returning to Delhi. The second leg of the tour by air will be from Delhi to Takht Sri Patna Sahib in Patna, going further to Takht Sri Hazur Sahib in Nanded, and back to Delhi. While IRCTC will manage the complete operation of the train journey, Luxury Trains, a tour operating company, will manage the logistics of the air travel of the second leg of the tour.
This is welcoming news for tourists who book flights to India and have short time to tour religious sites, sikh tourists who book flights to Amritsar or flights to Delhi normally just have enough time to visit about three of the five important Takhts in one visit, now they can avail this great package deal from December 2012.
The train will have 210 seats, with 72 seats in the First Class AC compartment and 138 seats in the Second Class AC compartment. The cost of package for First Class will be an all-inclusive Rs one lakh per person, while for Second Class the cost of the package will be Rs 90,000 per head.
Speaking at the occasion, Badal said that the package trip is tailored for a convenient and comfortable pilgrimage within the shortest time. Adding that Religious Tourism is a focus area for IRCTC, Rakesh Tandon, Managing Director, IRCTC, said that the combination of rail and air travel will make the package very attractive.