Indian Railways Minster Piyush Goyal has announced the launch of IRCTC’s (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) two new Ramayana Circuit Trains. Ramayana is not just a holy text but a way of life for Indian society and to trace the epic journey of Lord Rama is a dream come true for pilgrims. The proposed trains to run on the circuit are named as ‘Shri Ramayana Express’ and ‘Ramayana Yatra’. These journeys are carefully planned to cover most places related to Lord Rama-from his birth, childhood, exile, war and other aspects of his life.

The Ramayana Yatra train is scheduled for its first journey on August 28 from Kochuveli. The 12-day holy tour will cover Nashik Road, Chitrakoot, Allahabad, Varanasi, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Ayodhya, Rameshwaram and Madurai.

The 16-day train tour of Shri Ramayana Express is scheduled to start operations from 14th November. The journey will start from Delhi and will cover destinations like Ayodhya, Sitamarhi, Varanasi, Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Nasik Road, Hospet, Rameshwaram, Madurai and Chennai.

While the first package will range between INR 39,350 to INR 60,750 per person while the second one will charge INR 15,120 per passenger.

An add-on tour, where you can travel to Sri Lanka is available with Shri Ramayana Express itinerary at an extra cost. Opt for a flight to Colombo from Chennai by paying additional charges. The 4-day tour will cover Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Colombo and Negombo in Sri Lanka and is priced at INR 36,200. The Sri Lanka Ramayana journey comprise visit to the Ashok Vatika (Hakkagala Botanical Garden), prayers at ancient temples of Munneshwari, Munnawaram and Hanuman Temple, tours of tea gardens, cities and visit to an elephant orphanage.

Very soon the official website of IRCTC will offer online booking for the Shri Ramayana Express. There are 800 seats in standard category. The packages include travel, accommodation, food and sightseeing arrangements.

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Plans for Odisha to receive its first luxury train are underway. The proposal was mooted at a joint conference between the Odisha government officials and the Indian railways which was held recently. The luxury train will be modelled on the same line as the Palace of Wheels. The meeting was presided over by Odisha chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi and attended by the board’s additional member, Sanjeev Garg. 

According to official sources, the chief secretary directed the tourism secretary Vishal Dev to look into the financial, administrative and managerial aspects of the board’s proposals and prepare a feasibility report. An Odisha government official said, “It’s just in the proposal stage. We will study feasibility of the proposal from all angles”.

There was a common feeling in the recently held meeting that the running of such luxury trains in Odisha might be a possibility in the event of a joint collaboration between the Indian railways and the state-run Odisha Tourism Development Corporation. In the recently held meeting, it was also brought to light that luxury trains ran in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and that it contributed significantly to the increasing of tourism in the region.

These luxury trains, which boast outstanding services and luxurious amenities, are Palace on Wheels, Golden Chariot, Deccan Odyssey and Maharajas Express. At present, Indian Railways runs several luxury trains to various tourist circuits like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Assam and Uttar Pradesh. These luxury trains boost the tourism potential of these states to a great extent and attract a large number of foreign tourists. The luxury coaches are equipped with world class facilities which include bar, large dining, lounge, generator, LCD TV’s and internet connectivity.

Presently, Indian Railways operates a number of luxury trains which cater to various tourist circuits in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Plying of luxury trains has vastly improved the tourism potential of these States and attracted a large number of foreign tourists. With regard to the potential of Odisha for luxury trains, a tourism department official said, “Odisha has a rich tourism potentials with attractive tourist destinations such as the Chandipur beach, Puri-Konark marine drive, Bhitarkanika and Similipal national parks, Konark Sun Temple, Jagannath and Lingaraj temples, Chilika Lake and the Hirakud reservoir. These can be included under the Train Cruise project. Hence, the board's proposal for running luxury trains seems feasible here."
Cruise on the Arabian Sea from Mumbai to Goa is a dream come true. Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) in association with Sea Eagle Cruises Pvt. Ltd. have started the passenger cruise ship-Angriya. Board the lavish cruise from at Victoria Dock, Mazgaon, the floating terminal of Mumbai Port’s newly constructed domestic terminal.

The cruise is named Angriya, to honor the Admiral (Sarkhel) Kanhoji Angre, the 1st notable admiral of the Maratha Navy and also from the great coral reef, the Angria bank that lies between Maharashtra and Goa. 

The cruise finally made its first trial journey on Wednesday after a series of delays. Keep reading the blog for complete information about the cruise from Mumbai to Goa.

Cruise Timings

The Mumbai-Goa cruise is scheduled to depart every evening from Mumbai, Victoria Dock at 5:00 PM and will reach Goa around 9:00 AM. The return will be made by the ship every alternate day. The total time to complete the Mumbai-Goa sea journey is almost 15 hours.


Sources said that the assumed ‘intermediate halts’ of the cruise are- Dighi in Raigad, Dhabol and Jaigad in Ratnagiri, Vijaydurg and Malvan in Sindhudurg and Panaji.


Angariya Cruise for Mumbai to Goa can host almost 350 passengers comfortably. According to sources, there will be seven categories of accommodation to choose from.


The fare for Mumbai- Goa cruise tickets start from 7,500/- one way. The tariff will vary depending on the room category and size. Fares will be inclusive of meals, refreshments, and breakfast.


Well-equipped with modern facilities, the Angariya Cruise has eight restaurants, bars and 24 hours coffee shops located on all the decks. Guests can treat their taste buds to varied offerings from all over India, according to mood and interest. Other amenities onboard include state-of-the-art lounge, an infinity pool, recreation room, etc. Furthermore, the cruise is decorated with interesting facts about maritime, beautiful displays of the ecology of the region of both Mumbai and Goa, charts and other memorabilia.  
The first saloon coach of the Indian Railways commenced its journey with six customers of a private tour operating company. The saloon coach consists of air-conditioned rooms, valet service and attached bathroom, and other facilities which one would associated with a luxurious coach.

 Indian Railways saloon coach - Bedroom

According to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation), the saloon facility was reserved so far for those railway officials who were unable to reach certain places by road or air. However, the six VIP customers were the first passengers to enjoy the luxurious experience of traveling in a saloon car after the facility was opened to the public. This charter service, the first of its kind, was booked by six customers of a private tour company for a saloon traveling from Delhi to Jammu. 

 Indian Railways saloon coach - living & Dining Room

 The saloon car consists of a living room, two air-conditioned bedrooms (one twin bedroom and the other similar to an AC First Class Coupe with attached baths, dining area and a well-equipped kitchen). In addition, the saloon car also consists of a valet service, which will be chargeable in the future. An IRCTC official, commenting on the development, said, "This will be an all-inclusive tour where the guests will be offered all the comfort of a hotel. Exclusive staff will be available for services on board. Railway also provides one AC attendant and one saloon attendant for ensuring hassle free travel”. He also added that the cost of chartering this saloon would amount to almost Rs 2 lakh. 

 Indian Railways saloon coach -  Kitchen
A Press Trust of India report says that Indian Railway has a total of 336 saloon cars across railway zones. Among these cars, 62 are air-conditioned. It was in January 2018 after a meeting of Ashwani Lohani (chairman of the Railway board) with travel and trade associations that the decision to make the saloons available to the people was arrived at. The saloon, which was attached to the Jammu Mail at the Old Delhi Railway Station, completed its 4-day tour from 31.03.2018 to 02.04.2018. From now on, common passengers can also enjoy a ride in the saloon cars. Further details are available on the website.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage of India is an indispensable part of Indian culture, heritage and ethos. The cultural manifestation contribute to give a sense of identity to continuity from past, to present and further to the future. Understanding its worth, UNESCO has not restricted Cultural heritage to collections of objects and monuments, but also included the intangible elements of culture. These include - Performing arts, Oral traditions and expressions, Social practices, rituals and festive events, Traditional craftsmanship, Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. 

Let’s check out the 13 traditions which are included by UNESCO in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

1. Kumbh Mela

One of the major pilgrimages for Hindus, Kumbh Mela is celebrated 4 times over the course of twelve years. The fervor, passion and faith of Hindus is apparent from the statics of the head count attending the Kumbh Mela. Lakhs of devotees gather at a selected destination out of the four reserved locations where the mela is hosted after a span of 12 years.
The festival takes place along of the banks of river Ganga in Haridwar, Triveni Sangam in Prayag, Godavari in Nasik, and Kshipra in Ujjain. Going with the Vedas, it is believed that during the Kumbh Mela, the water of these river turns into nectar and taking a holy dip in them washes away all the sins. The 2000-year old festival is so spectacular that it ranks under the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

2. Navroz

Spread across various countries, Navroz is known by different names in different accents. The festival marks the starting of the Parsi New Year on March 21st every year. Parsi community celebrates the fiesta for wealth, health, productivity and prosperity. The merrymaking begins by decorating houses, wearing new clothes and finally by visiting the Fire Temple – a place of worship for Parsi community. Post all the rituals, special prayers are offered and the fiesta proceeds with relishing lip-smacking delicacies. Children are bestowed with special tokens. All this lasts for over two weeks.

The highlight of the gala is gathering around the table which is adorned with objects symbolizing brightness, purity, wealth and livelihood. Street performances of dance and music, traditional sports, public rituals and handicrafts making are also the important part of the celebrations. The younger generation inherits these practices from their elders.

3. Yoga

Another practice which has made its way to the UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India is Yoga. Finding its mention in the religious scriptures of Hindus, the ancient practice helps in the unification of the body, mind and soul. With its values forming a major part of the community’s beliefs, Yoga boosts spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. Various postures and asanas are the most apparent facet of this intense science of describing the countless potentials of human soul and mind. One can grasp the complete quintessence of the way of life by practicing Yoga.

The practice was introduced to the West by the Indian Gurus (masters). Meditation, series of postures, word chanting and controlled breathing are the essentials of Yoga. The knowledge was passed by the masters to their pupils in hermitage and yoga ashram which is still available till date in Rishikesh, also known as the Yoga Capital of The world. Attend the amazing event of the International Yoga Festival that is the biggest celebration of the ancient practice.

4. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India

You might have heard of the benefits of eating in the utensils made up of brass and copper. But, have you ever imagined from where and how these utensils come? The answer to the query is Thatheras of Jandiala Guru. The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making involves cooling of metal cakes obtained after melting the scrapes of copper and brass. These cakes are then rolled into thin plates of desired thickness. The plates are then purchased by Thatheras and molded into desired shapes by hammering it.

While molding, desired designs are etched onto them. Specific temperature is required to mold the plates into huge utensils and the temperature control is done manually using hand-held bellows. Cleaning and polishing also takes place manually using dilute acids and tamarind juice. The utensils so obtained are not only used for utilitarian purposes but hold ritualistic importance as well. The entire process is included in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

5.  Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

Sankirtana is a form of performing art. Performed in the domestic spaces and temples of Manipur state, the art form involves drumming, ritual singing and dancing. Showcasing matchless vitality and religious faith, the performances depict many incidents from Lord Krishna’s life, often leaving behind the spectators with tears in the eyes.

A group of ten singers-dancers along with two drummers grab the center stage in a domestic courtyard or a hall. Included in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India by UNESCO, the art form continues from generations to generations by traditional and formal education. Sankirtana brings people together and binds them closely to their community. Acting as the cohesive force between the Manipuri Vaishnavities, the performing art adds to the joy of festive occasion.

6. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh is a form of reciting of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan region. Buddhist Lamas perform the chanting of the holy text and it acts as a prayer to the almighty. The practice is carried out to promote the spirit, philosophy and teachings of the Buddha. Also, it is done to seek the personal growth of the practitioner and world peace. The chanting style varies from sect to sect and from monasteries to monasteries. It is a trend to perform the chanting on important days of Agrarian and Buddhist calendars and during life-cycle rituals.

Chanting is practiced to enhance the moral and spiritual well-being of the people. Peace of mind and purification are also inevitable outcomes of the process. Further, the wrath of the evil spirits is appeased by the same. Chanting also invokes the blessings of the Bodhisattvas, Buddha, deities and rinpoches. The practice has also been defined in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

7. Chhau Dance

A way of dance storytelling, Chhau Dance is a tribal heritage predominantly seen in the states of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The popular form of tribal dance in India also integrates elements of martial arts. Drawing inspirations from the mock combat, martial arts, acrobatics, semi-classical dance, story-telling and athletics, Chhau Dance is a part of tribal rituals. Derived from Sanskrit word ‘Chhaya’ meaning shadow, the dance uses grand and magnificently flamboyant masks.
Various episodes from Mahabharata and Ramayana are enacted in three distinct styles hailing from Purulia, Seraikela and Mayurbhanj. Male dancers from the local communities or families of traditional artists learn the dance form of Chhau. Making nights more beautiful, the dance is performed in open space to folk and traditional melodies. Musical instruments like Shehnai, Dhol and Dhamsa make the performance come to life.

8. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan

Finding mention in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan is one of the most unforgettable experiences of the royal state. An important part of the Kalbelia culture, the dance marks a joyful occasion. The tradition is into practice since yesteryears when Kalbelia used to carry cobras in basket and their women used to sing and dance to the tunes to earn a livelihood.

The dance form imitates the movements of snakes. Poongi, a musical instrument is an important part of the practice. Kalbelia folk songs and dances are the efforts of the community to revive their cultural heritage. The flexibility and litheness of the dance is apparent from the glimpses of acrobatic movements. Women wear impressive and vibrant dresses though always in black to show the connection with the snakes.

9. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala

The ritualistic art form of Kerala, Mudiyettu is based on mythological tale of fight between the demon Darika and Goddess Kali. Entire village participates in this community ritual. A day is selected after the harvesting of the summer crops and everybody reaches the temple early on this day. A huge image of Goddess Kali is drawn on the floor of the temple by performers who have purified themselves by fasting and prayers. The image is named as ‘Kalam’ and is drawn with organic powders.

It is believed that the spirit of Goddess is imbued by the process. Post this Kali-Darika myth takes place. The demon is eventually vanquished by the Goddess. The dance performance marks the beginning of a prosperous and peaceful New Year. Mudiyettu rejuvenates and purifies the entire community. Temples of Kali also known as Bhagavati Kavus in Kerala host the dance performance.

10. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India

Come, April and the twin villages of Saloor-Dungra in Uttarakhand become alive. Ramman, a religious festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal in the honor of the tutelary God, Bhumiyal Devta. Featuring in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, the fiesta in the form of theatre is an important form of heritage of only 196 families.  Total 1800 people of both the villages take part in the ceremony without considering the cast and the creed.

The number 18 plays a major role in the gala. As there are 18 people wearing 18 masks to play 18 characters and dancing on 18 beats to celebrate the 18 puranas. As per the traditions, Lord Ganesha is worshipped first and foremost. Bhumiyal Devta and Nar Singh Devta are pleased thereafter. The theatre then takes place after offerings are made to the almighty.

11. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre

Earlier a part of the temple rituals, Kutiyattam is now practiced in the province of Kerala. Also known as Koodiyattam, the historic classical dramatic art form actually means ‘acting together’. Musical instruments, elaborate costumes, dramatic make-up and jewelry help to showcase infinite moods skillfully. This helps the art admirers to get transferred into a different world altogether and enable the ancient living theatrical tradition to grow.

Kutiyattam is performed by the Nangiars women and reflects the local traditions of Kerala and a confluence of Sanskrit classicism. Hasta-abhinaya (hand gestures) and Netra abhinaya (expressions of eyes) are the vital aspects of the 2000-year old practice. A myriad of emotions and expressions, the art form requires rigorous training of ten to fifteen years. Various scenes from the famous epics are enacted by the performers. The entire performance can lasts from hours to days.

12. Tradition of Vedic chanting

Originating in the ancient Indian subcontinent, the Vedas are the oodles of texts of knowledge. Philosophical dialogue, Sanskrit poetry, ritual incantations and myths are beautifully inscribed in these religious textbooks. Hindus hold a strong faith in Vedas which are primarily four in number. The Rig Veda consists of ancient Indian Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The Yajurveda inscribes ritual offering formulas. The Samaveda features melodies and chants. The Atharvaveda is collection of procedures for everyday life.

Vedic chanting is the traditional way of reciting the Vedas. The cantos of Vedas were enchanted during the sacred rituals and a few were intoned daily in Vedic communities. Finding a place on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, the tradition of Vedic chanting comprises of several ‘paths’ (ways of chanting the Vedas). Special attention is paid to the manner of recitation of each and every word to keep its pronunciation intact.

13. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana

Ramlila actually means Rama’s Play and is the traditional performance of the Ramayana. Narrating the life story of Lord Rama, the entire performance lasts for 9 days. Effigies of demon Ravana are put to fire by the actor playing the role of Rama to mark the victory of good over the bad on the last day. This event is celebrated with great zeal and is known as Dusshera. Dialogues, songs and narrations make Ramlila complete and worth watching. Ramnagar, Ayodhya, Vrindavan, Benaras, Sattna, Almora and Madhubani are the leading destinations for being a part of the most illustrative Ramlilas.

The play helps people to understand the persona of Lord Rama, the ideal man and to apply his thoughts and deeds into their lives. Based on Ramacharitmanas, the staging of Ramayana is amongst the popular forms of storytelling in North India.

Indeed, India is blessed with so many cultures and traditions that it becomes mandatory to witness these Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.