The Panj Takht Darshan train, which will start its journey on 30 December, 2012, was launched by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in New Delhi. A joint initiative of Indian Railways, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB), the Panj Takht Darshan will offer a week-long journey covering the Akal Takht and Golden Temple in Amritsar, Takht Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Takht Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, Takht Patna Sahib in Patna and Takht Hazur Sahib in Nanded (Maharashtra). The Takht Patna Sahib in Patna and Takht Hazur Sahib in Nanded will be served by air charter from Delhi. Air services will be arranged and looked after by the marketing agency, The Luxury Train. The package will also help pilgrims visit other Sikh heritage spots and gurdwaras in Punjab, Delhi and other places.
The ‘Panj Takht Darshan’ will start on 30 December from New Delhi with the second one on 17 March. It will be a six nights and seven days journey by train and air. The IRCTC will manage the complete operation of the Sikh Circuit Special Tourist Train including off board and on board services. Pilgrims can board the train from New Delhi on 30 December or Amritsar on 1 January. The entire cost of the tour, to and fro from Delhi, would be Rs 1,00,001 per person (fist AC) and Rs 90,000 per person (second AC). Likewise, the package would cost Rs 97,500 (first AC) and Rs 88,050 per person (second AC) from Amritsar.
The Chief Minister mentioned that Punjab now ranks 14th in the number of tourist arrivals, placed above Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir. He further stated that the Punjab government has envisaged an ambitious plan to make huge investments in the sector over the next five years on infrastructure, conservation of heritage sites/ buildings and product development. He pointed out that the PHTPB has prepared a 15-year Tourism Master Plan for Punjab with the assistance of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). On the basis of this initiative, Punjab was one of the states which was sanctioned the Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism worth Rs 400 crores.
Tourism & Cultural Affairs Minister Punjab Sarwan Singh Phillaur described the launch of the Panj Takht Darshan as a major breakthrough in the state tourism. He said that the PHTPB would undertake extensive marketing of this prestigious project, not only in the country, but across the globe, especially in UK, USA and Canada etc. to attract the Punjabi Diaspora to visit the holy five Takhts.
Prominent amongst others present on the occasion were Tourism Balvir Singh Ghunas, Chief Parliamentary Secretary; KJS Cheema, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister; and Rakesh Tandon, MD, IRCTC.
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