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Railways readies additional arrangements for Kumbh Mela

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New Delhi: New platforms, foot over-bridges, drinking water facilities, special trains, medical as well as catering facilities have been set up by the railways to serve the millions of pilgrims descending on the Nasik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha Kumbh Mela 2015.

Central Railway spent Rs.25.8 crore in the arrangements, Indian Railways said in a statement on Wednesday. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday reviewed the arrangements with the Railway Board.

At Nasik railway station, 85 new drinking water taps, 60 new toilets, 90 new urinals and 22 new unreserved booking counters are being added to the existing seven.

The railways are running 14 additional short-distance and 15 additional long-distance trains to serve the pilgrims.

Central Railway is running 12 fully-reserved special superfast trains between Nasik Road and Howrah and 39 special unreserved trains between Nasik Road-Bhusaval and Odha Igatpuri.

Bathing_ghat_on_the_Ganges_during_Kumbh_Mela,_2010,_Haridwar
For crowd management, three passenger holding areas have been set aside at Nasik Road goods shed and two holding areas at Nasik Road station.

Six manned watch towers have been erected to keep constant vigil on the crowd in addition to 120 CCTV cameras at Nasik, Devlali and Odha.

To boost security and prevent any untoward incident, 60 metal detectors have been pressed into service and 200 portable barricades set up to segregate crowds.

The public address system has been strengthened by 34 additional speakers in Nasik railway station to the existing 104 speakers, the railways said in the statement. (IANS)

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Ever Wondered what do Ancient Sites mentioned in Ramayana look like? Visit these Ramayana Destinations to know!

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

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Ramayana destinations
Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 8, 2017 : Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. I can confidently vouch that we have all heard stories from Ramayana at one point in our life. Ramayana is not just a story, it is an indispensable part of the Hindu religious law.

There exist innumerable arguments questioning the authenticity of Ramayana. While it is almost impossible to prove or disapprove anything, what is feasible is to trace the chronology of events, focusing on various Ramayana destinations that can still be visited to experience the ethereal world that is believed to have existed in the Treta Yug.

Here is a list of ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana.

You can plan a trip to these Ramayana destinations to feel closer to Him, and personally experience what we have all grown up reading and hearing about.

  1. Janakpur

Mention in Ramayana

First on our list of Ramayana destinations is Janakpur. A key phase took place at Janakpur, one of the many other Ramayana destinations. The ancient city of Mithila, as it was previously called, was home to Sita, where she lived till her marriage.

Legend has it that to get rid of a devastating drought, the King of Janak ploughed the land in Janakpur when he stumbled upon an earthen pot out of which Sita emerged. This also explains why the place is also known as Sitamarhi.

King Janak brought the child back to the palace at Mithila, where she grew up and was married to Ram.

The Ramayana explains Mithila as a ‘divya-bhumi’, a sacred land that pulled Ram to it.

Visiting Janakpur

A small town in Nepal, you are sure to come across compelling stories of Sita (or Janaki) infused in the landscapes, temples and the people of Janakpur.

Sita’s  swayamvar, the ceremony which saw participation of learned men from all big and small territories, took place at Rangbhoomi. It was in this ceremony that Shiva’s bow was broken into pieces by Ram.

Dhanush Sagar is a tank on the area where a piece of the bow of Shiva, broken by Ram in an attempt to win Sita’s hand, had fallen. Another piece is believed to have fallen at some distance, now known by the name Ratan Sagar. And the third piece is believed to have fallen in Dhanusha, 15 km away from Janakpur.

Ramayana destinations
Dhanush Sagar in Nepal. Wikimedia

Visitors can also visit the Ram-Sita vivah mandapa, which has been made in Janakpur.

Multiple devotees flock Janakpur every year o pray and pay homage to Sita during Vivah Panchami, the day Ram and Sita are believed to have got married. The quaint little town also witnesses tourists on Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram.

How To Reach Janakpur

Janakpur is one of the ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, only a few km from the Indian border and can be reached by flight, train or via road.

Travelers can fly to Kathmandu and take a smaller airline to Janakpur. However, make sure you check flight availability beforehand as they only ply a few times in a week.

Otherwise, one can also visit Janakpur via buses.

  1. Chitrakoot

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Chitrakoot. It is one of the most intricately explained Ramayana destinations. Upon being banished from the royal palace, it was here that Lord Ram, accompanied by wife Sita and brother Lakshmana spent eleven of their 14 years of exile (vanvas).

Ramayana also mentions of Bharat who came to Chitrakoot to persuade his brother Ram to return to Ayodhya. It was also here that Ram performed the last rites of his father, King Dasharatha in presence of all gods and goddesses.

Chitrakoot’s peaceful environment also acted as a source of inspiration for the great poet Goswami Tulsidas to pen the Ramcharitmanas, retelling the life of Lord Ram in Awadhi.

Visiting Chitrakoot

Nestled between the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Chitrakoot has a breathtaking location with a tranquil aura.

Quick fact : ‘Chitra’ means a beautiful painting and ‘Kuta’ means mountains.

While all ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana hold spiritual transcendence, located along the Mandakini River, the sacred city of Chitrakoot is particularly known as a centre for spiritual enlightenment, and is a potpourri of devotion, legend and traditions.

Pilgrims can visit the Bharat Milap Mandir, where Bharat visited elder brother Ramand requested him to return to Ayodhya to claim his rightful throne. Upon his refusal, Bharat took his khadau (slippers) with him to the palace to place on the throne until Ram returned to the kingdom after 14 years.

Located on the Kamdagiri Hills near the temple premise, there exist engraved footprints of Ram and his brothers that are worshipped till date.

Located at the centre of the town is Ramghat where Ram used to take a dip in the mighty Mandakini river. This also happens to be the place where Tulsidas met Ram and Lakshmana.

Ramayana destinations
Ramghat in Chitrakoot. Wikimedia

Legend has it that Tulsidas was making sandalwood paste when the two brothers disguised as two kids approached him and asked him to apply a tilak on their forehead too. Not knowing the boys were really God, the poet made the tilak. It was Hanuman who helped Tulsidas recognize the brothers by reciting the famous verse,

“Chitrakoot ke ghaat pai bhai santan ki bheer,

Tulsidas chandan ghise tilak det Raghubeer.”

One can also visit the Gupt Godavari caves at a distance of 18 km, where inside the saves stand two natural throne-like rocks where Ram and Lakshmana sat during their stay.

How To Reach Chitrakoot

You can take a flight to Khajuraho, from where buses and taxis operate. The nearest railway station is Chitrakoot Dham. You can also choose to take the road to reach Chitrakoot.

3. Panchvati, Nasik

Mention in Ramayana

Third on our list of Ramayana destinations is Nasik. During his exile years, Lord Rama, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana moved from one place to another, to find tranquility in nature and feel closer to the natural way of life. After staying in Chitrakoot for eleven years, the next Ramayana destination was Nasik where they spent a significant amount of time.

Their hut was built in Panchvati, which is famous for its five huge Banyan trees and is only 4 km away from Nasik.

Located on the banks of the Godavari, it was in Nasik that Lord Rama and Lakshmana had an encounter with Surpanakha, Ravana’s younger sister, where consequently her nose was cut off. This explains the rationale behind the name of the place. (Nasika means nose in Sanskrit)

To avenge the disrespect faced by his sister, it was from here that Ravana abducted Sita and flew her to Lanka on his Pushpak Vimaan. Needless to say, it was here where Lakshmana drew the ‘Lakshmana Rekha’,.

Visiting Nasik

The Kala Ram Mandir in Panchvati, Nasik is believed to have been built right where Lord Rama’s kuti (hut) was built.

Ramayana destinations
Kalaram temple in Nasik. Wikimedia

Nasik’s Rama Kunda is the chief pilgrimage place in Nasik. The Kunda is primarily a tank where Lord Rama and Sita allegedly bathe. This makes the tank extremely sacred.

The Rama Kund is also known Asthi Vilaya Tirtha, because human bones are known to dissolve here. Legend has it that Lord Rama performed funeral rites at the Kund in memory of His deceased father, King Dasharatha.

How To Reach Nasik

Nasik is very well connected via air, trains and road.

Panchvati is only 4.2 km away from Nasik and can be easily reached through road.

4. Kishkindha, Hampi

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Kishkindha. Marked by dense forests, huge rocks and the Tungabhadra river, Karnataka’s Hampi can be mapped to Ramayana’s Kishkindha, one of the most active Ramayana destinations.

In the forests of Dandak, Kishkindha was the kingdom of the Vanara king Bali.

It was in the forests of Kishkindha where Lord Rama met Hanuman.

After Sita was abducted by Ravana, Lord Ram had first entered the kingdom of apes looking for her, along with Lakshmana.

After a fight between the two monkey kings, Sugriva and Bali, Sugriva took refuge on the Matanga mountain along with Hanuman. Lord Rama had killed Bali and helped Sugriva win the throne. The brothers then stayed in Kishkindha awaiting results of Hanuman’s search for Sita.

Sugriva’s army of apes also pledged their support to Lord Ram here and hence came into being his army against Ravana.

Visiting Kishkindha

Ramayana clearly traces the roots of Kishkindha to the Tungabhadra river, which till date is counted among some of the major rivers of Karnataka.

One of the many ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, the region along the river near Hampi in Karnataka is identified as Kishkindha from Ramayana.

Ramayana destinations
Kishkindha mountain. Wikimedia

Hampi has a culturally rich past and has much more to offer to visitors. However, for those of you looking to trace Ramayana’s trajectory, this place will not disappoint you.

Tara Mountain near Hampi is named after Bali’s wife, who had been saved by the monkey kind from demons.

As per Ramayana, Sugriva had taken refuge inside the Rishyamuk mountain. Legend has it that Bali had been cursed by a saint, who said the monkey king would perish if he entered the mountain. Thus, to save his life, Sugriva took refuge inside this mountain.

Pilgrims can also visit Nidapuram where a huge mound of scorched ash remains and is believed to be the cremated remains of Bali.

A little to the north-west lie the Anjanadri mountain, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, who lived here with his parents, Kesari and Anjani.

The mountain has been named after Hanuman himself, who was called Anjaneya.

Quick fact : You will have to climb 550 stairs to reach to the ancient Hanuman temple situated on this mountain.

How To Reach Kishkindha

Hampi is at a distance of 330 km from Goa and can make for a comfortable road trip. The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction which is merely 13 km away. The station is well connected with trains, and roads. You can also avail the bus services by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation

While it cannot be confirmed that everything we know about Ramayana took place as we know of it. However, these Ramayana destinations continue to exist till date and prove that they may just have transpired in reality.

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

 

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Indian Railways Are No More Popular Mode of Transport in India

Airlines are soon to replace railways as a popular mode of conveyance as the number of passengers traveling via air will exceed the AC passengers in 2019-2020

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Indian Railways
Indian Railways. Wikimedia Commons
  • Indian Railways get aggressive competition from Airways, as Airways to become popular mode of transportation in 2019-2020
  • Augmenting the pricing and capacity can save the downfall of Indian Railways
  • Indian Railways fares not as unfair as people make them out to be

New Delhi, August 03, 2017: Reportedly, the aviation sector is said to grow in 2019-2020 as the Indian Railways prices continue surging. Recently in a blueprint laid out by Indian Railway, it was mentioned that the number of passengers traveling by air would exceed AC-class passengers in 2019-20.

Indian railways and domestic airlines carried about 145 million and 97.8 million passengers respectively between December 2015 and November 2016. With a projected 20% growth in air passengers and 5% growth in rail AC-class passengers between December 2015-November 2016 and 2019-20, it is estimated that air passengers will outnumber rail AC-class passengers soon.

As the Indian railways surged the price on the base fares of Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Dhuranto trains last year giving leverage to the aviation sector. The base fare of these railways was raised on the basis of selling capacity as recommended on Railway Board formula, the base fares would increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of train berths sold.

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While the railway’s fares went remarkably high, Air India announced that the last minute fares won’t be raised making the last minute booking before take-offs at par with AC rail fare. All the airlines have followed similar fare patterns and therefore reducing airfares, the shift of 2AC and 1AC rail passengers to Airlines have increased remarkably since. Leading to this alarming state of affairs for Indian Railways, 3AC still remain unaffected because even the Tatkal bookings are lower than the last minute air fares.

Can Indian Railways still beat the growing Airline Traffic? Click To Tweet

The two factors by which Indian Railways can still gain traction and recovery by 2020 are through augmenting capacity and pricing. Although Indian railway has been leveraging its track capacity at a rate of 7km per day since 2015, it cannot be augmented to a level that can stop the growing aviation sector from mangling the rail AC passenger segment by 2019-20. Hence, Indian railways can hardly do anything till 2020 when both dedicated freight corridors are commissioned, relieving sizeable capacity for railways.

Pricing and travel time, are two most important factors that can affect the passenger segment of Indian railways. Talking about pricing, the railway pricing is not as simplistic as it is made out to be. The costing of air carriers are significantly more than 1AC/2AC rail and considering that more than half air tickets are sold within two weeks the departure, despite the flexi-rates, there is a huge difference between the railways and air fares. However, the air fare for tickets that were booked at least two weeks before the travel day may be in the range of 1AC/2AC rail fares. Taking the price factor in regard Indian Railways are doing well and should have no concerns on this front.

Also Read: “Better than London” free WiFi on Indian Railways stations! RailTel and Google are making it happen at 400 locations

While travel time is of the essence to the passengers and not the authorities, and the only alternative to combat the huge difference of time saved in airlines compared to railways, should not be bullet trains. While major routes like Delhi-Bombay have access to electric tracks and serve under “A” category of railways, they still need to up the speed of express trains which run at the maximum speed of 160kmph/130kmph. The speed of these trains can be increased up to 110kmph which 80% of the maximum speed, there will be a lot of time that could be saved benefiting the 6PM-8AM trains which do not enter the slab of productive hours.

Indian railways can tweak their options to gain the leverage over the aviation sector, which is said to overtake in 2019-2020.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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Railways to launch Train for Religious Tourists in February, will cover shrines in West Bengal and Odisha

The Aastha Circuit Tourist Train will be jointly operated by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp

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Train journeys in India
Train journeys in India are always a part of a best travel experience. Pixabay

Agartala, Jan 19, 2017: The railways will launch a train for religious tourists on February 17 that will originate in Guwahati and cover shrines in West Bengal and Odisha, it was announced on Wednesday.

The Aastha Circuit Tourist Train will be jointly operated by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp.

It will “take travellers to a mix of popular pilgrimage destinations across the eastern part of the country at affordable rates”, a railway official said.

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The train will cover Gangasagar in West Bengal, Sri Swami Narayan temple, Kalighat and Birla temple in Kolkata, Jagannath temple and Konark temple in Puri district and Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar.

The train will run from Guwahati and will return in six nights and seven days. A round trip will cost Rs.6,161. (IANS)