Mahabharat circuit planned

New Delhi, Dec. 28: A new Mahabharat circuit is being planned, in the wake of the runaway success of the Buddhist circuit in the country. The Mahabharat circuit runs through Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and has the potential to attract not only domestic but even foreign tourists. Union tourism minister Ambika Soni has agreed to grant Rs 5 crores for the development of the new Mahabharat circuit.

The Mahabharat circuit runs through the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. In UP, the tourism department has taken the lead in developing all the places in the state mentioned in the epic. Kurukshetra, the scene of the epic 18-day Mahabharat war and the scene of the revelation of the Bhagvad Gita, however, falls in Haryana.

The Mahabharat circuit in Uttar Pradesh covers Hastinapur, which is present-day Meerut in western UP. There are a number of other places in Uttar Pradesh where significant events connected to the Mahabharat took place. Baghpat and Bijnore are two such examples. A tunnel dating back to the Mahabharat period, which is believed to have been used by the Pandavs, has been found in Baghpat.

The Japanese bank JBIC had contributed Rs 680 crores towards the development of the Buddhist circuit. In Uttar Pradesh, the Buddhist circuit covers places like Sarnath, where the Buddha delivered his first sermon, and Kushinagar, where he breathed his last. The Buddhist circuit attracts thousands of tourists annually from both home and abroad.

For the Ardh Kumbh beginning next week, meanwhile, the UP tourism department has sanctioned Rs 50 lakhs to facilitate the visit and stay of people from around the world. One of the major attractions will be a tent hotel, comprising 40 double-bed Swiss-type cottages equipped with 3-star facilities, three dormitories having 10 beds each and a vegetarian restaurant.

Since the Ardh Kumbh is in Allahabad, from where places like Varanasi, Vindhyachal and Ayodhya are less than 200 km away, the UP tourism department has designed special package tours to enable those coming for the Kumbh visit some other pilgrim centres as well. Also, as 2007 will witness the 150th anniversary of the First War of Independence of 1857, the tourism department will organise programmes based on the freedom struggle across the state next year.

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