India promotes Buddhist train tour

NEW DELHI, 19 January 2021: Train travel exploring India’s Buddhist circuit topped the agenda at a Ministry of Tourism’s webinar hosted at the weekend.

The “Exploring Buddhist Circuit by Train” webinar focused on showcasing the Buddhist heritage in India to the domestic market while building awareness for train travel when international tourism to India resumes.  In addition to providing background on the destinations that are part of the Buddhist heritage circuit, the webinar provided first-hand travel information including accommodation options and the most recent update on train travel.

Leading the webinar presentation, Ministry of Tourism deputy director-general, Shri Arun Srivastava, noted that Buddhist tourism in India has the potential to appeal to more than 500 million Buddhists worldwide.

“India has a rich ancient Buddhist Heritage with several important sites associated with the life of the Lord Buddha… Indian Buddhist heritage is of great interest to the followers of Buddhism the world over,” he explained adding that Buddhism remained a vital force, an inspiration and above all, guidance for the country’s traditions and customs.

A presentation was made by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) joint general manager tourism and marketing, Dr Achyut Singh.

“The IRCTC Buddhist circuit tourist train will cover the most venerable sites of Buddhism, following the life path of the Enlightened One, the Buddha, himself and covering all the places which had a significant impact on the Buddha’s life and teachings,” he explained. 

Shri Singh noted that Lumbini the birthplace of the Lord Buddha lies just a few km across the India-Nepal border, but is served by the IRCTC Buddhist circuit tourist train itinerary. It enables passengers to pay their respects at the holy site in addition to the Mayadevi temple, dedicated to the Enlightened One’s mother.

The Buddha’s moment of enlightenment, enshrined for eternity under the Maha Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya, occupies an important place in the itinerary, due to its religious and scholarly significance as well as being the confluence of Buddhist traditions from all over the world.

In crafting the Buddhist circuit tourist train itinerary, special care has been taken to include the Sarnath the site of the Buddha’s original sermon, which gave birth to Buddhism, from where sprang all its varied forms and sects.

The important site of  Sarnath is also close to Varanasi, one of the most ancient seats of Indian culture. Train guests have the opportunity to explore the culture and traditions of the holy city and the Ganges River.

Tracing the Lord Buddha’s life from birth to ascension are the core features of the comprehensive train itinerary. Mahaparinirvan Temple at Kushinagar, with its Reclining Buddha, depicts the divine soul’s last earthly position of rest. Aspirants who wish to achieve deeper insight into Buddhism can delve into its intricacies while reflecting on the sermons given by the Buddha at Sravasti; specifically, the Jetavana monastery.

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