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Travel luxuriously to India’s heritage destinations (Travelogue)

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New Delhi: Fancy travelling to two popular Unesco World Heritage Sites and a city of old-world charm and multiple religious faiths on a single journey? Come January 2016 and that’s exactly what you can do aboard a new ‘semi-luxury heritage circuit tourist train’ launched by IRCTC, a subsidiary of Indian Railways.

Departing from the rather languid Safdarjung railway station here, the five-day-four-night package first takes you to Varanasi and thence to Khajuraho and Agra, before returning to Delhi.

“Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra are immensely popular among not only foreign tourists but also for Indians. There are no trains that directly connect these three spots. We, therefore, launched this train to make it easy for tourists to visit these three places in a solo trip,” IRCTC Tourism Manager AS Pandey told IANS during the inaugural run of the train.

The itinerary has been drawn up taking into account all the needs of travellers. From accommodation to transportation and food, everything is the responsibility of IRCTC.

“We have Maharaja packages and normal trains (aimed specifically at tourists). We wanted to come up with something that fills up the gap between these two extremes.

The package has been made keeping in mind the different economical sections of society,” IRCTC Public Relations Officer Sandip Dutta told IANS.

The effort put to maintain the hygiene and cleanliness of the train is appreciable.

“Apart from cutlery, the food provided by IRCTC is same for all the three categories on the train (1st a/c, IInd a/c, three-tier a/c). The travellers are put up in luxury hotels at the three destinations and a/c buses are arranged for ground transportation,” Dutta added.

Spending the first night on the train, I and my fellow travellers arrived in Varanasi early in the morning. The air was nippy but that did not take away from the excitement. We soon headed to Sarnath, the place where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya. Considered pious by Buddhists, the place attracts many foreign tourists from across the world. The calm and serene atmosphere of this holy place give solace to the soul.

After spending some leisure time hopping around the city, it was time to witness the quintessential “Ganga Aarti” at Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of the oldest in Varanasi and the boat ride across the holy river. Thousands gather every day to watch this event where the priests offer prayers to Hindu gods and goddesses.

With Day 2 coming to an end, we wrapped up our Varanasi moments and headed towards our next destination, Khajuraho, which greeted us with an early morning wintry chill and misty surroundings, marking the beginning of Day 3.

The Khajuraho set of temples, located in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, which was built by the Chandela dynasty between the 9th and 11th centuries, is spread across four zones – the western part being the main tourist attraction. The temples, built in Indo-Aryan style, not just represent architectural finesse but are also the amalgamation of two religions – Hinduism and Jainism. This is proof of the acceptance and respect for each other’s communities.

The erotic sculptures of the temple are something to be perceived beyond the Kama Sutra. The bold sculptures range from self-pleasing acts to orgies to bestiality – and exotic sexual positions. With the sun setting behind the temples, I headed for a musical show that highlighted the diversity of Indian culture, ending the stay at Khajuraho.

On Day 4 we arrived at Agra and, without much delay, were taken to the Taj Mahal. The sun was setting, the fog had gathered and the cold breeze sweeping across the Yamuna made us shiver but nothing could take away from the majestic view and the white beauty of the monument as the sky got enveloped in a pinkish hue.

One of the Seven Wonders of world, Taj Mahal, which is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in India that draws crowds in the thousands every day, still holds the power to mesmerise with its beauty, no matter the innumerable times one visits it.

Capturing every moment spent at the Taj, the day ended, making way for the final destination of the trip on last day.

Braving the shivering morning cold of Agra city, we headed towards Fatehpur Sikri. The fort has a rich historical background attached to it. Built by Emperor Akbar, the city was the capital of the Mughal empire during 1571-1585. The structure, a combination of Persian and Hindu architecture, looked glorious as the early rays of sun kissed its red sandstone walls.

It was then time to board the train for one last time for the return journey to Delhi but what will endure are some of the memorable moments spent on those five days. (IANS,  Somrita Ghosh), (image courtesy: newsforindia.com)

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#ThankYouIndianRailways: WolfzHowl Partners Mavcomm Group to Launch a New Initiative

WolfzHowl has released a 1-minute 45-second long '#ThankYouIndianRailways' video

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#ThankYouIndianRailways
#ThankYouIndianRailways initiative was launched by WolfzHowl in association with Mavcomm Group. Pixabay

In an effort to show solidarity with the Indian Railways which has helped lakhs of stranded migrants reach home via ‘Shramik special trains, consultant firm WolfzHowl in association with Mavcomm Group have launched a new #ThankYouIndianRailways initiative.

The aim is to contribute in spreading that light of positivity in these rather bleak Covid-19, the companies said in statement.

The #ThankYouIndianRailways initiative has been created to highlight the tireless work the Indian Railways has been doing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

WolfzHowl has released a 1-minute 45-second long ‘#ThankYouIndianRailways’ video on various social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with a ‘chuk chuk rail gadi’ song as a tribute to the Indian Railways.

The #ThankYouIndianRailways
The #ThankYouIndianRailways initiative has been created to highlight the tireless work the Indian Railways has been doing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pixabay

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“Celebrating the achievements of our Indian railways in the fight against Covid-19 is a celebration of our own ingenuity as a nation,” said Kalyan Ram Challapalli, Chief Strategist and Founder, WolfzHowl Strategic Instigations.

“It’s an honour to be associated as partners with this campaign which expresses our appreciation for the stellar role played by Indian Railways in serving the people and nation amongst not only the Covid-19 situation but at all times,” added Anand Mahesh Talari, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Mavcomm Group. (IANS)

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Indian Railways Utilizes Lockdown Period To Carry Out Maintenance

The official said that during the lockdown the railways deployed over 500 modern heavy duty track maintenance machines, signal and overhead equipment (OHE) maintainers have worked regularly for 10,749 machine days to complete overdue track maintenance of 12,270 km plain track and 5263 number of turn outs

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Railways
The railways is only running the freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items across the country. Wikimedia Commons

Following the suspension of passenger, mail and express train services amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Indian Railways has utilised the time for long pending maintenance work and yard remodelling that earlier acted as bottlenecks.

Railway ministry officials said that during the last 41 days of the nationwide lockdown the national transporter has taken up the maintenance of bridges, remodelling of yards, renewal of scissors crossover, which have been pending for several years.

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“These works were pending for several years and were confronting railways with severe bottlenecks. Railways planned these works during lockdown period considering it once in a lifetime opportunity to wipe out these maintenance arrears and take up the execution of work without affecting the train services,” he said.

The official said that during the lockdown the railways deployed over 500 modern heavy duty track maintenance machines, signal and overhead equipment (OHE) maintainers have worked regularly for 10,749 machine days to complete overdue track maintenance of 12,270 km plain track and 5263 number of turn outs.

Railways
Following the suspension of passenger, mail and express train services amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Indian Railways has utilised the time for long pending maintenance work and yard remodelling that earlier acted as bottlenecks. Wikimedia Commons

The official said that during the lockdown the health of the tracks has been monitored through periodic runs of Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS). Besides the OMS technique, the railways also used the Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) technique on 30,182 km of track and 1.34 lakh rail welds have been carried out with USFD machines.

“Critical summer precaution activities like de-stressing of long welded rail (LWR) which involved huge manpower has been taken up with a new procedure for carrying out the work while ensuring social distancing norms. 2,246 km of de-stressing of LWR has been done,” the official said. The official added that a major block of 72 hours was taken in Kazipet yard for pending yard remodelling to replace old wooden scissors crossover laid in 1970 with standard concrete layout to improve the safety and speed of train movement through the yard.

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The government on Friday announced to extend the lockdown by two more weeks till May 17. The railways has also suspended passenger, mail and express train services till May 17 and only Shramik Special trains will run on the request of the state governments to transport migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and tourists stranded in several parts of the country. The railways is only running the freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items across the country. (IANS)

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Indian Railways Develop Disinfectant Tunnel To Fight Against Novel Coronavirus

The official said that upon contact in the tunnel, the spray is efficient enough to kill the virus

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Railways
A railway ministry official said that the loco shed in Maharashtra's Bhusaval has developed a disinfection tunnel to fight Covid-19. Wikimedia Commons

The Indian Railways has developed a disinfection tunnel to sanitise people for just Rs 10,000, officials said on Monday.

A railway ministry official said that the loco shed in Maharashtra’s Bhusaval has developed a disinfection tunnel to fight Covid-19.

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He said one set of three nozzles spray one ppm sodium hypochlorite solution, as people walk for a duration of between three and five seconds inside the tunnel.

Railways
The Indian Railways has developed a disinfection tunnel to sanitise people for just Rs 10,000, officials said on Monday. Wikimedia Commons

The official said that upon contact in the tunnel, the spray is efficient enough to kill the virus.

He said the total cost of the tunnel was around Rs 10,000 and its capacity is of 500 litres.

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The disinfection tunnel will work uninterrupted for 16 hours, hence requiring refilling only once a day. (IANS)