| The phaeton procured by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation. The carriage will be cleaned and painted white before it goes on the road. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
This Christmas, enjoy a pleasurable ride in a new phaeton around the verdant Gandhi Maidan.
The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) has procured a horse-drawn carriage for the phaeton service that would be rolled out in mid-December. The carriage would be available only for tourists and residents seeking pleasure rides and not for regular transport.
Navin Kumar, the BSTDC deputy general manager, said: “The phaeton has been purchased from a Varanasi-based firm for around Rs 1.2 lakh. The phaeton is expected to be on the roads within a fortnight.”
He added: “Recently, three horses owned by the person, who operates the two older phaetons in Patna, died. He is now planning to purchase two horses from the Sonepur Mela to draw the phaetons.”
Sonepur Mela — arguably the largest cattle fair in Asia — began on Tuesday.
Citizens are eager to take the pleasure rides in the phaetons that, they claim, remind them of the stylish Victorian Age.
“The horse-drawn carriages hark back to the 19th century. I am eagerly waiting to experience the comfortable and stylish rides around the Gandhi Maidan in such a phaeton,” said Patliputra resident Sidhi Singh.
In the 19th century, phaeton was named after the son of Greek Sun God Helios. Mythological phaeton had tried to ride his carriage to the sun, inviting misfortune. Hence, all dangerous means of transport were named “Phaeton’s Chariot”.
A ride in the carriages in Patna would, however, be the epitome of comfort combined with style. The seating area — called the saloon — would have upholstered seats. It would be able to accommodate five persons on two seats. It would also have a hood that can be pulled back in good weather.
Some people have begun to plan outings with friends and family. “I often go for evening strolls around Gandhi Maidan with friends,” said Gardanibagh resident Pranav Kumar. “It would be wonderful if I could take a phaeton ride with my family and friends.”
The pleasure rides, of course, come for a price. Though the exact fare has not been finalised yet, BSTDC sources claimed that it would be between Rs 100 and Rs 200.
The tourism development corporation is soon going to place procurement orders for three more phaetons.
“The order for procuring three more phaetons would be placed in a couple of days. It would take another two months for their delivery. These phaetons would also be run in the state capital. We are in talks with local tonga associations to get horses and drivers for those phaetons,” said BSTDC deputy general manager Navin.
Patna already has two phaetons that ply between the old secretariat and Raj Bhavan.
These are in high demand because of the wedding season. “People are booking the phaetons six months in advance. We charge Rs 17,000 for four hours,” Gajendra Singh, manager, trade and travel. “In fact, there is such a rush that the phaetons are booked till end-December.”