Ramayana Express is a pilgrimage circuit train, which covers important destinations which are linked to the mythologies of Lord Ram. The train comes with a Ramayana theme and bhajans playing all day long. This year, IRCTC has plans to provide a holistic tour covering Nepal, Sri Lanka (optional), and several destinations in India. The train is expected to start its maiden journey on 28th March 2020.
New Edition for Holi
On March 10th 2020, Ramayana Express latest edition will be launched, according to VK Yadav, the Railway Board's Chairman. He also mentioned that the train will give a temple-on-wheels effect. According to PTI report, the new train service originates from several locations of the country, making it available for pilgrims around the country. IRCTC reported that it is currently in the process of scheduling and planning the packages and the train will be effectively on track for service after Holi.
The schedule of the train for 2020 will be released by end of February 2020. The previous version of this pilgrimage train had a capacity of 800 passengers. The new proposed train has ten coaches. Five of those would be sleeper non-AC coaches and the rest are 3AC coaches. The booking is said to be on first-come-first-take basis. The bookings haven't yet started.
Package of Shri Ramayana Express
According to IRCTC reports, the tour spans for 16 nights and 17 days and will be called the Ramayana Circuit of India. The train would commence from destinations like Ghaziabad, Delhi Safdarjng, Lucknow, Moradabad, and Bareily. The maiden journey is assumed to start from Delhi.
There is an add-on package, which covers the Ramayana Circuit of India with the Ramayana Circuit of Sri Lanka. This add-on tour has a limitation of just 40 seats. If you wish to take up the add-on tour, you ought to de-board the train in Chennai on the 15th day and take a flight (economic class) to Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka. This add-on includes three nights of stay in Kandy, Negombo, and Nuwara Eliya.
Destinations covered in Sri Lanka tour are:
- Munneshwaram Temple, Munnavari
- Sita Mata Mandir
- Vibhishana Temple
- Ashok Vatika
The Sri Lanka tour starts on April 11th 2020 in Chennai and the return journey from Sri Lanka starts on 15th April 2020.
Tariff of Shri Ramayana Express
Cost per head for the entire package including travel, accommodation, and food
This tariff does not include the add-on Sri Lanka tour. The Sri Lanka tour adds INR 37,800 per head, over and above the cost for Ramayana Circuit of India. The inclusions and exclusions of the tariff are not yet announced in detail.
Destinations covered by Shri Ramayana Express
There are no official details about the schedule of the train from IRCTC. However, major pilgrimage sites and destinations covered during the Ramayana Circuit of India tour are:
- Ayodhya – Hanuman Garhi, Ram Janmbhoomi
- Nandigram – Bharat Mandir
- Bihar – Sita Mata Mandir of Sitamarhi
- Nepal – Janakpur
- Varanasi – SankatMochanMandir, Tulsi Manas Mandir
- Prayag – Hanuman Mandir, TriveniSangam, and the Bharadwaj Ashram
- Shringverpur – Shringi Rishi Mandir
- Chitrakoot – Sati AnusuiyaMandir, and Ramghat
- Nasik – Panchvati
- Hampi (Karnataka) – Hanuman JanmSthal,and Anjanadri Hill
- Rameshwaram – Jyotirlinga Shiva Mandir
This is a tentative list and the complete schedule and timing of each destination has not yet been released.
Tour Manager on board
The train is said to have a tour manager travelling throughout the trip. He will take care of the sightseeing arrangements and transfers at each destination.
Accommodation and travelling
The tourists are de-boarded at each destination and taken on road trips to visit the pilgrimage attractions as per the schedule. The sightseeing will be conducted in buses (non-AC). For accommodations, the SL coach travelers will be accommodated in the dharmashalas of certain destinations for changing, washing, and others. The AC coach travelers will be accommodated in hotels.
Food during Travel
Food is included as a part of the tariff. The food served is completely vegetarian. During Navratri period, the food served will not have garlic or onion. Fasting food like Sabudana Khichdi, curd, fruits, potato, and others will also be served upon request, according to official report from IRCTC.
Shri Ramayana Express – The Older Version
The previous edition of this pilgrimage train is the Shri Ramayana Express, which was introduced in 2019. Upon the success of Shri Ramayana Express, this new edition is about to be launched. The previous version covered destinations like Varanasi, Nandigram, Rameshwaram, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Shringverpur, Sitamarhi, Hampi, Janakpur, Prayag, Ayodhya, and others.
Kashi Mahakal Express – Similar Train
India's third private locomotive, IRCTC Kashi Mahakal Express was flagged off by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister. This pilgrimage train covers three Jyotirlinga destinations (Lord Shiva related pilgrimage sites) like Mahakaleshwar, Kashi Vishwanath, and Omkareshwar. This train runs between Varanasi and Indore and has started its service on February 20, 2020.