First train with Ayodhya pilgrims to leave Delhi on Dec. 3

Velankanni Church included in Delhi Government’s free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens: CM

The first train carrying citizens on a Delhi Government-sponsored pilgrimage to Ayodhya will depart from the Capital on December 3, bookings for which are now open, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced here on Wednesday.

He also said that the Government had decided to include Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu in the list of pilgrimage sites so that Christian devotees can also avail of free pilgrimage as per their wish.

“There used to be 12 listed routes to where the people could avail of the free pilgrimage under the scheme. The shrines included Puri, Dwarka, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Rameshwaram, Shirdi and Ajmer Sharif among other holy sites. Now, Ayodhya has been added to the list as well,” Mr. Kejriwal told a digital briefing.

“One can choose any site of their preference out of these for the pilgrimage. Senior citizens of Delhi can take benefit of this scheme. Additionally, every senior citizen can take along an attendant with them on the pilgrimage. Till now, over 36,000 people have been on pilgrimage,” he also said.

The ‘Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojna’ was approved by the Delhi Cabinet on January 9, 2018. The scheme provides Government assistance to the residents of Delhi, in specific persons belonging to the economically weaker section of society.

Facilities for pilgrims

The scheme aims at helping the elderly go on a pilgrimage once in a lifetime. The entire expense of leaving from home until return, which includes travelling by air-conditioned trains, proper AC hotel stays, meals, local travel and more, is borne by the Delhi Government. An insurance cover of ₹1 lakh is also provided.

Any citizen from the Capital who is aged 60 years or more can avail of the scheme after acquiring a certificate from their local MLA. Now, the 13th route of the four-day long Delhi-Ayodhya-Delhi tirth yatra is on offer. Eligible people willing to visit Ayodhya can register by visiting the Delhi Government e-district portal.

Accommodating all

The Chief Minister sought to assure citizens that they must not worry that they would be left out if there were too many applications. If there were more people than the capacity of the train, then the Government would put another train on the route.

“If there are still more applicants, then we will put in a third train. The train may leave after a week, but will take everyone. Therefore, everyone should apply for the darshan of Shri Ram Lalla. I genuinely want as many people as possible to visit Ayodhya,” he said.

“Christian brothers demanded that a place of their pilgrimage be included in this list. Today, I want to give some good news to them also. Many Christians wish to go to Velankanni Church. We are going to include Velankanni Church in the list of pilgrimage sites very soon and you will also be able to go on pilgrimage as per your wish,” he added.

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