I am delighted to share that we, Bihar Foundation Mumbai, initiated a community outreach program at Mumbai yesterday. As part of this program, a group of 50 students and 20 senior citizens are visiting the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya. They would also be visiting places of tourist interest at Patna like the museum as also a visit to the Vishnupad temple at Gaya. The outbound train from Lokmanya Tilak terminus was flagged off by the tourism minister of Maharashtra, Varsha Gaikwad.
The Govt of Bihar is also rolling out the red carpet for the delegates. The return journey will be flagged off by Ram Pravesh Rai, Tourism minister of Bihar. It is thus one of those happy bipartisan events where both the UPA and NDA ministers are participating.
I enjoyed watching the enthusiasm of the people going to Gaya. And why should they not be? They are going to have a long and exciting journey to the holiest of their shrine besides a visit to the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Patna.
This is but a small event, like the gentle first rain drops at the peak of summer. Inevitably, it will get evaporated soon. Hopefully, it will also generate the "saundha" smell as also herald the outpouring of monsoon in the coming months. Small as this event maybe, there are two firsts: proactive initiative by Bihar to take tourists from Maharashtra to Bihar as also taking Indian Budhdhist pilgrims to Bodh Gaya as opposed to the foreigners. An interesting snippet is that the the Gaya airport is the only airport in India and possibly in the world that has several regular and chartered international flights from different destinations but not even one from within India.
I do hope this will some day lead to a direct train between Gaya and Mumbai in to facilitate Budhdhist pilgrimage from Maharashtra to Gaya. Thus the traffic will not remain a one way traffic.