Buddhisht Tourism likely to get many-fold upsurge this year

PATNA: In view of the recent visit of chief minister Nitish Kumar to Bhutan, the state’s tourism department is gearing up to cater to an expected heavy influx of tourists on the Buddhist circuit. While arranging adequate accommodation and conveyance facilities for them remains a major concern for the department, it also wants to ensure lively evening activities and standard utility services on way to these Buddhist tourist centres.

“For tourists from Bhutan, a complete tour package is being worked out. A dedicated train starting from Assam will go through Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Patna, Vaishali and Kesaria. The train is expected to be flagged off by November this year,” said Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, tourism department.

Besides, as many as 10 luxury buses will also run thrice a week from Phuntsholing on India-Bhutan border. Apart from Bhutanese tourists, they will also cater to domestic tourists from the north-east and West Bengal. Temporary arrangements for their accommodation will be made at Bodh Gaya from November to March.

Similar arrangements are being planned for Buddhist tourists from Chennai and Sri Lanka, for whom a special train is all set to be started by November. The first round of talks have already been held between the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited officials in this regard. The details will be worked out this week, said the official, adding “we are targeting the middle class tourists from these areas, as mostly the high-end ones do make their own arrangements.”

To ensure their smooth movement, 50 luxury buses will be rolled out by June this year under PPP. By July, a Radio Taxi service will also be launched in important towns.

In a bid to lure tourists from South-East Asian countries, the department is getting in touch with its counterparts in those countries with complete tourist packages, similar to the bilateral agreement reached recently with the Tourism Council of Bhutan to cater to each other’s tourists.

“To provide a boost to tourism on our Buddhist circuit, comprising mainly of Nalanda, Vaishali, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Kesaria, our prime concern is to improve accommodation facilities. For this, the department has come out with an advertisement campaign-Come To Bihar. For those interested in building hotels and guesthouses, the government will mediate with private parties interested in selling their land, and thus make land available,” Kumar said.

“We also want to promote guesthouse culture,” said Kumar, adding “we have advertised inviting hoteliers and owners of rest houses to get empanelled with us. Through government’s official website and propaganda, they will get bookings and our department will also monitor their work.”

An initiative to engage tourists in evening activities is also on the anvil. Indian Tourism Development Corporation will be making arrangements for light and sound shows at some of the historical monuments at these centres. The department had recently launched ‘Ganga aarti’ in the state capital and is planning to light up the buildings on riverside-like collectorate building, civil court and Darbhanga House-for a magnificent look from the riverside.

Work on some of the wayside facilities out of the total of 50 sites chosen has already begun. These will have eateries along with washrooms. Besides, three event management companies have also been empanelled to organize road shows in other countries.



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