Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sept 10:
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which is scheduled to run Mahaparinirvan Express train to 11 Buddhist circuits in the country from September 27 this year, has excluded Odisha from its itinerary.
Sources in IRCTC said tour to Odisha was not economically viable. Besides, there was no specific proposal from the Odisha Tourism department.
Besides, the IRCTC officials also said while Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Nepal have a large number of Buddhist tourist spots for visit and pilgrimage, Odisha has just the ‘diamond triangle’ of Lalitgiri, Udaygiri and Ratnagiri besides some places in Puri and Bhubaneswar.
“Inclusion of any place in the Buddhist circuit depends on the demand by the state concerned and we have not received any specific proposal from Odisha this year,” they pointed out.
The luxury Buddhist train was inaugurated wayback in 2007.
In a letter to the Centre in 2011, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had requested to link the train’s route to the Buddhist circuit in Odisha.
While the train was scheduled to arrive in Odisha on December 20, 2012, it did not happen due to poor bookings.
“Talks are on with the IRCTC to at least bring in some coaches of the train to Odisha. While the IRCTC authorities, in the previous meeting had told us that taking the Express to Odisha was not economical, we had requested them to include Odisha to boost to its tourism sector,” Director, Tourism, Manoranjan Patnaik said.
State tourism minister Ashok Panda had raised the issue at the state Tourism ministers’ meet in New Delhi. Besides, he had also requested the Union Minister of State for Railways to extend one trip of the train to Odisha.
The train will start its 7-month tour on September 27 and cover Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Varanasi, Sarnath, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Lumbini, Gonda, Shravasti and Agra and culminate in Delhi on March 28.