The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 12 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cool ride to hot history spots

Patna, Jan. 11: Tourists will now be able to zoom between Bodhgaya and Nalanda in air-conditioned buses. A tourist guide will also accompany them on the trip.

The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) has come up with a special travel package for tourists to two other destinations — Rajgir and Nalanda. While Rajgir is located 70km northeast of Bodhgaya, Nalanda is 15km from Rajgir.

The BTMC has entered into an agreement with an organisation — Pracheen Bharat — for providing this service. It would be first of its kind service to be introduced in the state.

A trial run of the bus journey would be made on January 14 and January 15. The service would be formally launched on January 16.

Tourists, who would avail of this package, would start their journey at 7am. They would return to Bodhgaya the same evening. There are 40 seats available for this daily tour package. Each ticket would cost Rs 900. The tourists would be provided breakfast, lunch and evening refreshment on the tour. Moreover, they would not have to purchase tickets at Rajgir and Nalanda for visiting the different sites, including a ropeway ride.

During the bus journey, four films of around 25-minute duration each would be shown to the tourists. These films would be about the ancient Nalanda University, the Mahabodhi Temple, the history of the Mahabodhi Temple and the other places that were visited by Gautam Buddha before and after attaining enlightenment.

A securityperson would be present on the bus for the safety of the tourists.

Two Bangalore-based software engineers — Navin Sharma and Mahadeva Swami Kakoor — have jointly started Pracheen Bharat. Sharma belongs to Nalanda district of Bihar. The organisation specialises in making animated films on places of historical importance and also in promoting packaged tours.

“According to the agreement terms, Pracheen Bharat would mobilise all the resources, including the air-conditioned bus, for organising the tour and BTMC would be the facilitator,” Gaya district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh told The Telegraph over the phone. Singh is also the ex-officio chairman of BTMC.

Singh said out of Rs 900 charged from the passengers, Rs 800 per person would be paid to the service provider, while the rest of the money would remain with BTMC. The service is not profit-oriented, he added.

The BTMC chairman said the goal is to have services of Volvo buses for this package. Singh also said BTMC intends to launch similar tours for Vaishali and Sarnath in the future. These two places are very popular among Buddhist tourists.

“For now we have decided to start with just one package tour. The experiences gained in this would be used in finetuning the services when more such tours are put on offer in future,” said the BTMC chairman.

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