The newly launched Vande Bharat express connecting Una and New Delhi has proven to be a boon for people of Himachal and pilgrims from other states. Not only has the travel time been drastically cut down by half between Himachal and the national capital but the smart-facility enabled train has travellers gushing about the wifi facilities, the comfortable seating arrangement and the hospitable female staff.
The New Indian travelled in Vande Bharat Express on Monday and assessed the mood of the people prior to the upcoming elections in the hill state. People from the state and those traveling from outside gave excellent reviews .
Ambrish Dogra, a local of Una said, he had never expected that Himachal would get such a state of the art facility and it would be so easy to travel up and down between Himachal and Delhi. “It is so comfortable and saves a lot of time,” he said.
Tourists and locals largely depend on roadways, including the National Highways (NHs) to travel to different parts of Himachal. The roads are prone to being damaged by landslides, particularly during the monsoons. This made the launch of Vande Bharat before the elections all the more crucial as it came as a huge relief for the the locals.
Poonam Rana who was travelling with her child said, “My maternal home is Daulatpur. after marriage I am settled in Delhi. Earlier visiting my parents was difficult. We would travel by car and it would take 12 hours. This train has made our life so much easier. To top it, it doesn’t even feel like I am traveling. I am enjoying the scenery. It is matter of great pride for the people of Himachal.”
The train service has been particularly beneficial for pilgrims. Improving religious tourism has been a thrust area of the Narendra Modi-led government.
Himachal houses many famous Hindu and Sikh pilgrim spots. Maa Chintpurni Temple in Una is one of the Shakti Peethas in India. It is frequented by Hindu pilgrims.
The New Indian encountered a Canada-based elderly Hindu couple who flew all the way from Ottawa to visit Maa Chintpurni Temple. “Our aim in life is now to travel India and explore all pilgrim spots. We have visited Maa Chintpurni earlier as well. But was a lot of hassle. With this train pilgrims like us have got life line,” said Vipin Shandilya. His wife Poonam is though enamoured by the superior services and the comfortable seating arrangement. “This is far better than the trains we take in Cananda,” Poonam said.
The train stops at Nangal Dam from where the the Sikh pilgrimage town of Anandpur Sahib is accessible. “This is the first time I am traveling in Vande Bharat. Now, it is easy to visit Anandpur Sahib. The. hope the government starts more such services.”
The train will connect Dharamshala and McLeodganj too, the home of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and tourist favourite.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off India’s fourth Vande Bharat train between Himachal’s Una and national capital New Delhi on October 13.
The Vande Bharat train flagged off earlier today will improve connectivity and give an opportunity for many more people to explore the natural beauty and spirituality of Himachal Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/GZnqjmLEka
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 13, 2022
Vande Bharat is being seen as the biggest smart-travel facility for Himachal Pradesh and the PM’s best gift to the poll-bound state. The train was launched a day before the Election Commission (EC) announced assembly elections schedule in Himachal.