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Luxury Train On Sikh Pilgrimage Across India Sold Out

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Luxury train on Sikh pilgrimage across India sold out


Sunday, 26 December 2010

By Jaideep Sarin

CHANDIGARH: A unique pilgrimage of Sikh shrines across India on board the Deccan Odyssey luxury train is all sold out. Never mind if the nine-day journey costs a minimum of Rs.210,000 ($4,665) per person.

Titled 'A spiritual journey to the Guru's abode' on the Deccan Odyssey, all 80 seats for the first trip of the train, which begins from Delhi Wednesday, are taken.

The journey is not only religious in nature. It will have the passengers celebrate New Year's Day at the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines, in Amritsar. They will also be taken to historical and tourist destinations in Delhi, Amritsar, Jaipur, Agra and Patna.

"This is an exclusive, once in a lifetime journey. All 80 seats are sold out. We have a mix of passengers from the US, Canada, Germany, France and a few from India also. People on board will begin their new year at the Golden Temple complex," Sajive Trehan, CEO of The Luxury Holidays, told IANS.

The passengers aboard the first journey of the train to the five Sikh 'Takhts' - temporal seats - will also include a Bulgarian couple who are interested in the Sikh religion.

"The age profile of the people travelling with us is a mixed one. We have a wide range - from kids to elders. Most of the passengers are NRIs," Trehan said.

"The journey will cost each person from Rs.210,000 to Rs.450,000 ($10,000). This includes everything - 5-star stay, food, travel, airfare, sightseeing, guides and much more," he added.

The train will not only have traditional artists performing on board during different legs of the journey but Sikh hymn singers, Raagis as they are called, will also perform 'kirtans' at the conference hall of the train which will be converted for this purpose.

The journey and stay of the passengers will be mostly be on the luxury train. Only the section between Mumbai and Patna and the return from Patna to Delhi will be by air.

From Delhi, the train will first embark on an overnight journey to Takht Keshgarh Sahib - the birthplace of the Khalsa Panth sect. It was founded by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh in April 1699 at Anandpur Sahib, some 100 km from Chandigarh. It will be followed by a visit to a nearby shrine at Kiratpur Sahib.

After that, the train will leave for Amritsar to reach the Sikh holy city Dec 31.

The passengers will spend the day at Harmandar Sahib - popularly called the Golden Temple, the sanctum sanctorum, and visit the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion.

The travellers will be taken around Amritsar, including the historic Jallianwala Bagh, where British soldiers massacred hundreds of Indian protestors April 13, 1919, and the Attari-Wagah border for the retreat ceremony. They will also partake of 'langar' or community meal inside the shrine complex.

After the New Year celebration at the Golden Temple, the visitors will witness the 'Pratham Vela' - the first sight of the Sikh holy book, Granth Sahib. On Jan 1, the train will move towards another Sikh shrine, Takht Damdama Sahib, at Talwandi Sabo near Bathinda, 250 km from here.

The train will then reach Jaipur Jan 2 where the passengers will go sightseeing and then move to Agra to see the 17th century monument to love - the Taj Mahal. The train will then move to Nanded town in Maharashtra to visit another Sikh shrine, Takht Hazoor Sahib, and subsequently move to Mumbai.

After spending a day in Mumbai, the visitors will fly to Patna to visit the Takht Patna Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh. The journey will end in New Delhi after the visitors fly back from Patna.

And in case you want to take this journey too, there is some good news. The organisers have already planned out another such journey in March 2011.

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Why so expensive? Bullocks

"The journey will cost each person from Rs.210,000 to Rs.450,000 ($10,000). This includes everything - 5-star stay, food, travel, airfare, sightseeing, guides and much more," he added.


Do you think these luxuries come cheap?

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Food is cheap in India, travel is cheap in India (even good trains), sightseeing is cheap in India, guides are cheap in India.

The only thing that might be worth money is the 5 star hotel, which im not sure how much it costs in India but i wonder if there are really that many 5 star hotels in India since you have to go to at least 3 states(panjab, maharasthra and bihar)

They rip u of!

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Food is cheap in India, travel is cheap in India (even good trains), sightseeing is cheap in India, guides are cheap in India.

And 5000-10000$ is also cheap for NRI's Right.

All above you mention is cheap if you travel like ordinary Indian citizen ,but if you want 5 star facilities then you have to pay for it.

Also Please re read the article ,they are organising stay at Mumbai and then taking the passengers to Patna By Air so Night stays are almost at 5 star hotels

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Luxury religious experience, receive maximum blessings with zero inconvenience.

Isn't it great to be rich :-)

It would have been a great effort if the profits of this enterprise could have been recycled back into Sikhi somehow, it never ceases to surprise me the lengths people go to to make profits in Gods name. This is the kind of thing the hibernating SGPC should have spearhead.

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Oh but it's because of their good karma that rich people are rich, and paying for this circus will increase their good karma, ensuring that they will always be rich. The rich deserve help, the poor are worthless and lazy. That's the Indian way. Sikh way is a bit different: if there's any injustice in the world it's all the bahman's fault now shut up and let me eat cake.

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Rail link to Talwandi Sabo sought

Tribune Reporters

Bathinda/Amritsar, January 1

The special Sikh pilgrimage train, Shan-e-Khalsa, was given a rousing reception at Bathinda railway station this evening. The pilgrims on board the train were offered garlands after which they boarded two air-conditioned Volvo buses to reach Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo.

The CEO of The Luxury Trains, Sajivve Trehaan, said: “After paying obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib, we will come back to the railway station here and board the train for Agra.”

It was a festival-like situation at the railway station as hundreds of people were waiting to have a glimpse of the luxury train. Besides a number of dignitaries, including senior leaders of the SGPC, the SAD and the Congress, a battery of district officials were also seen waiting for the train for at least two hours.

State Tourism Minister Hira Singh Gabria and other politicians like Surjit Singh Rakhra and Ashwani Sekhri were also on board among the total 88 pilgrims.

All 21 bogeys of the train were carrying plates addressing the train as Shan-e-Khalsa and the trip as Deedar-e-Takht.

“It is for the first time that I have been on pilgrimage. I am capturing photographs of all places we are visiting, as my friends, who could not accompany me, want to see all these places,” said Hannah of the USA.

On a query, another pilgrim, Debra of the US, said: “The journey is very comfortable and I am satisfied with arrangements.”

Akali leader Surjit Singh Rakhra and Congress leader Ashwani Sekhri also said the fare was beyond the reach of the common man but expressed satisfaction with services being provided in the train.

On the other hand, Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh demanded that the Centre should connect Talwandi Sabo with rail link.

Earlier, while flagging off the train from Amritsar railway station for Talwandi Sabo, Tourism and Culture Minister Hira Singh Gabaria said the state government would write to the Centre for subsidising travel in the special luxury train for Sikh pilgrims on the line of Haj pilgrims.

He also distributed shawls and photographs of the Golden Temple to all the pilgrims.

He also released a diary for 2011 inside a bogey of the luxury train. He said the department had come out with a pocket diary containing information regarding the state.

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