New Delhi: A special train service launched by the Indian Railways for a ‘dream holiday’ this Karwa Chauth season has been cancelled after only four couples signed up for the 78 seats on offer, ThePrint has learnt.
Karwa Chauth is a primarily north Indian festival where wives fast through the day — often without water — for husbands’ long lives. The ritual, which will be observed next Thursday this year, has been romanticised in Bollywood movies and soap operas as the ultimate expression of love and devotion.
It was this fervour that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) looked to tap when it decided to run the Karwa Chauth special Majestic Rajasthan Deluxe, a repurposed rake, for the first time this year.
It was scheduled to run from 14 to 18 October, starting from Delhi’s Safdarjung station and going on to Agra, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer before returning to the national capital. Tickets were priced at Rs 1.03 lakh/couple for the AC-I coach and Rs 90,000 for AC-II.
However, a highly placed source in the IRCTC told ThePrint, “…with just four couples booking this train till 9 October (Wednesday), we have decided to cancel this special train”.
“It might be the high price of the tickets, which deterred passengers from embarking on this journey,” the source added.
The IRCTC has initiated refunds for the four couples who booked berths on the train.
‘A special gift’
The IRCTC regularly carries out promotional campaigns for special packages through its website, e-mails as well as press releases.
The Indian Railways’ subsidiary tried its best to promote the Karwa Chauth train as well. In its promotional message, the IRCTC said, “This Karwa Chauth, give your wife a special gift which she will remember for ages.”
Karwa Chauth, the message said, is an “age-old tradition emanating from the rustic roots of Rajasthan. This is observed by womenfolk for the long life and wellbeing of their husband”.
Couples travelling on this train were to celebrate the occasion on the sand dunes of Jaisalmer, with a cultural programme and camel rides scheduled as well.
Other stops included the Taj Mahal, Jaisalmer Court, Gadi Sagar Lake, and Parwan Ki Haveli, with a dedicated AC bus deployed for the trips to the destinations from railway station and back.
Only married couples were allowed on the train, although the IRCTC promised to make special arrangements if any of them wanted to bring their children along.
Other facilities included a personal digital locker, shower cubicle, foot massage and a seating area with single-seater sofas. A kitchen car was also attached to the train. Passengers were assured free insurance worth Rs 10 lakh each.
The train that was to serve as the Majestic Rajasthan Deluxe was only meant to run on special occasions, according to the IRCTC. On 19 October, a day after the Karwa Chauth service was to end, the same train is scheduled to serve the Buddh Circuit route through Lumbini, Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and Kushi Nagar.