President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday embarked on a train journey to visit his birthplace in Uttar Pradesh, where he will interact with his old acquaintances from school days and the early days of his social service.
It would be after a gap of 15 years that an incumbent president is travelling by train. "President Kovind boards a special presidential train from Safdarjung railway station to Kanpur. The train will make two stop-overs, at Jhinjhak and Rura of Kanpur Dehat, and will reach Kanpur Central in the evening," the Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal can also be seen in pictures tweeted by the Rashtrapati Bhavan of the president boarding the train. This is the first time that Kovind will visit his birthplace after becoming the president. Though he had desired to visit the place earlier, it could not materialise because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"As he boards the train, the president will be travelling down the memory lane that will cover a span of seven decades of his life, right from his childhood to holding the top constitutional position in the country," a statement issued on Wednesday by the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said.
The two stop-overs at Jhinjhak and Rura are close to the president's birthplace, Paraunkh village in Kanpur Dehat.
The last time a president travelled by train was in 2006 when A P J Abdul Kalam boarded a special train from Delhi to Dehradun to attend the passing-out parade of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) cadets.
Records show that the country's first president, Rajendra Prasad, often undertook train journeys, the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said. Soon after taking office as the president, he visited his birthplace, Ziradei in Bihar's Siwan district.
Prasad boarded the president's special train from Chhapra to reach Ziradei, where he spent three days, the statement said. He travelled across the country by train. Prasad's successors also preferred train journeys to connect with the people of the country.
On June 28, Kovind will board the train at the Kanpur Central Railway Station to reach Lucknow for his visit to the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. On June 29, he will return to New Delhi on a special flight.