In A First, Indian Railways Reserves Seat For Lord Mahakal In IRCTC’s Kashi Mahakal ExpressSeat Reserved For Lord Mahakal (Pic via @vivekanandg Twitter Handle)

For the first time, the Indian Railways has reserved a seat for a deity on a train. The national transporter, which launched its third IRCTC operated train named Kashi Mahakal Express from Varanasi to Indore, has reserved a seat for Lord Mahakal (Lord Shiva) on board.

Speaking to IANS, Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar said: "It is for the first time that a seat has been left reserved for a deity."

"One seat in Kashi Mahakal Express (seat number 64 in B5 coach) has been left reserved for Lord Shiva," he said.

"Even a temple has been drawn on the seat to make people aware that the seat is reserved for Lord Mahakal," he said.

IRCTC''s Director, Tourism, Rajni Hasija said that the practice would continue beyond the inaugural run.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Kashi Mahakal Express via video conferencing from Varanasi, where he is all launched several projects worth Rs 1,250 crore during the day''s visit to his parliamentary constituency.

The third IRCTC train, after the two Tejas Express trains on New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes, the Kashi Mahakal Express will connect three places -- Jyotirlinga-Omkareshwar (near Indore), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) and Kashi Vishwanath (at Varanasi).

Also connecting the industrial and educational hub of Indore, with Bhopal, the train will begin its commercial run from 20 February.

"The Kashi Mahakal Express will operate three days in a week and it will be a bi-weekly service through the Sultanpur-Lucknow route and a weekly service via the Prayagraj route," Kumar said.

Elaborating on the two routes from which the train will pass every week, Hasija said: "Once the new train starts its regular run from this week, it will depart from Varanasi at 2.45 pm every Tuesday and Thursday to reach Indore at 9.40 am on Wednesday and Friday.

Similarly, the train will start from Indore at 10.55 am every Wednesday and Friday and will reach Varanasi at 6.00 am the next day. This train will have stoppages at Ujjain, Sant Hirdaram Nagar, Bina, Jhansi, Kanpur and Sultanpur stations in both directions.

Meanwhile, in the weekly service via Prayagraj route, the Kashi Mahakal Express will depart from Varanasi at 3.15 pm every Sunday to reach Indore at 9.40 am the next day. On the other way, it will depart from Indore at 10.55 am every Monday and reach Varanasi at 5 am the next day.

"This train will halt at Ujjain, Sant Hirdaram Nagar, Bina, Jhansi, Kanpur and Allahabad stations in both directions," Kumar said.

Explaining the fares of the Kashi Mahakal Express, Hasija said, "Kashi Mahakal Express will follow a dynamic fare structure like the other two Tejas Express trains."

One-way journey from Varnasi to Indore will cost Rs 1,951, inclusive of four meals.

According to the IRCTC officials, the Indore-Varanasi Kashi Mahakal Express will be the first private train that will run overnight and for a comfortable long distance journey, will feature a host of facilities. The IRCTC will serve vegetarian food, and provide housekeeping services, on-board security services and bedrolls.

The IRCTC officials said that passengers will also get complementary insurance of Rs 10 lakh.

The train will have an advance reservation period of 120 days and will only have the general and foreign tourist quotas. The current booking will be available to the passengers on the platform itself after preparation of first chart, four hours to five minutes before the scheduled departure of the train.

To facilitate travel for pilgrims, the IRCTC is also introducing special tour packages for passengers who want to see the pilgrim centres enroute. The tour options are; Mahakal Darshan (Ujjain - Omkareshwar), Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka, Malwa Jyotrilinga Darshan (Ujjain-Omkareshwar- Maheshwar- Indore) and Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka-Ujjain. Other tour options include Kashi, Ayodhya and Prayag; Kashi Darshan; Kashi, Prayag, Ayodhya; Kashi and Prayag and only Kashi.

The train has silent features like CCTV cameras, which will be monitored online around the clock from the IRCTC centres, whereas for the first time the IRCTC has brought the marshals in the train for passengers safety and also to make people aware to not smoke inside the train as it has smoke and heat sensors installed in the coaches as well as in the bathroom. For the blind passengers, the train coaches have the seat numbers written in Braille, and the catering staff will be dressed in yellow kurta-pyjamas with a rudraksh malas on their necks to promote the train''s theme.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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