Sri Lanka travel firm in pilgrimage market with Indian rail

Sept 09, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Hemas Travels is breaking into the Buddhist pilgrimage market by offering an eight-day tour in a dedicated train in partnership with the Indian rail system. Pilgrims are taken on Mahaparinirvana Express a dedicated train, with sleeping births and dining facilities offered at between 105 to 150 dollars a day, not counting air fare.

The train can accommodate around 250 passengers. “You do not have to go in groups but can book the tour individually,” Riza Ahmat, director of Hemas Travel (Pvt) Ltd told reporters.

Pilgrimages, especially to Buddhagaya are popular in Sri Lanka where the majority of inhabitants are Buddhist.

The rail tour is operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Cooperation Ltd.
It has an eight-day itinerary covering Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Kushinagar, Lumbini, Varanasi, Sarnath and Sravasti.

Hemas says each year, around 15 to 20,000 Sri Lankans go on pilgrimage to India, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.