NEW DELHI: A semi-luxury train service that will unveil the country's multifaceted heritage before travel lovers with stoppages at Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra was today launched by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC).
The "Heritage Circuit", which departed from New Delhi's Safdarjung Station, will provide a wide range of deluxe facilities during its five-day round trip.
"The package includes intercity transfers, along with stay in three-star hotels, all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), sightseeing, local transfers by AC deluxe vehicles, entrances at the monuments, service of English/Hindi speaking guide, travel insurance, 24x7 security and CCTV surveillance on board the train," an IRCTC official told PTI.
The Heritage Circuit will have its first stop over at Sarnath, 13 km north-east of the ancient temple town of Varanasi. The passengers will then experience a boat ride on the Ganges to witness the 'Ganga Aarti', an exquisitely choreographed ritual performed daily on the banks of the river.
The Khajuraho stay features visits to Eastern and Western group of Temples. The last stoppage will be at Agra, which includes tour of the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort.
The rates for the circuit are Rs 35,900, Rs 32,900, Rs 31,900 (first AC single, double and triple occupancy), Rs 26,200, Rs 23,200, Rs 22,700 (second AC) and Rs 21,790, Rs 18,790, Rs 18, 290 (third AC).
When asked why these particular sites were chosen for the circuit, the official said, "We have one segment of super luxury Maharaja's Express and the other one is Bharat Darshan. Through the Heritage Circuit, we are trying to fill that vacuum.
"This circuit will have 72 seats in first AC, 138 seats in second AC and few seats in the third AC category. For the middle-class and upper-middle class, second and third AC are very affordable. This circuit is mainly meant for Indians."
"If this becomes successful, then in the upcoming Budget, the Railway Board may give us mandate to run more such circuits in the coming years," he added.
Operated by IRCTC, the 'mini ratna' PSU of the Railways, the train will run eight trips individually till summer sets in by next April.