Pilgrims to Tirupati from the district now have a reason to smile. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, has announced a special tour package by train to the pilgrimage town from Thiruvananthapuram. The monthly tour, as part of diversifying its tourism portfolio, is IRCTC’s first such programme for pilgrims from the capital.
The package, according to IRCTC officials, will have a duration of one day and two nights. It includes confirmed train journey in sleeper class (Chennai Superfast, no 2696/95), travel in air-conditioned vehicles, accommodation with vegetarian food, ‘Seeghra Darshan’ at Tirupati and Tiruchanur temples, along with visits to Kalahasthy Temple and Golden Temple (Sreepuram), Vellore. The cost of the package tour is Rs 3,999 per person.
The departure has been planned on December 11 from Thiruvananthapuram. Apart from the capital, pilgrims can board the train from Varkala, Kollam, Chengannur, Thiruvalla, Changanassery, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur.
Top officials said the IRCTC is planning to operate one tour programme every month. ‘’An entire coach of the Chennai Superfast will be used for this purpose. Only 60 persons can travel at a time as the upper berths at the sides are not used, considering the convenience of senior citizens. A staff of the IRCTC will accompany the pilgrims,’’ officials said.
Presently, IRCTC operates a special tour package to Tirupati from Alappuzha having a duration of one day and two nights and costing Rs 2,999 per person. ‘’There is a thumping response from the pilgrims to this tour programme. We have been getting a lot of enquiries from Thiruvananthapuram as well. The new tour package has been launched following the strong demand from the public,’’ officials said.
The cost of the tour from Alappuzha includes a confirmed train journey in sleeper class (Alleppey Express, no: 6042/41), commutation in air-conditioned vehicles, vegetarian food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), ‘Seeghra Darshan’ at Tirupati and Thiruchanur, along with a visit to Golden Temple, Vellore. The departure has been planned from Alappuzha on November 28 and December 26. Pilgrims can board the train from Alappuzha, Cherthala, Ernakulam, Aluva, Thrissur and Palakkad.
The IRCTC is also planning to operate similar tour packages to Velankanni from Ernakulam in December. For details, contact, ph: 0471-2329339 (Tvm); 0484-6464849 (Kochi) and 0495-2701510 (Kozhikode).