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Fares high, stay options few: travel agents on Ayodhya

They say the temple town lacks hotel and transport amenities to meet the sudden surge in footfall.
Last Updated : 21 February 2024, 01:55 IST
Last Updated : 21 February 2024, 01:55 IST

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Enquiries for Ayodhya tour packages have shot up significantly among Bengalureans. But tour operators say the demand is more than they can meet because of limited stay options in Ayodhya and steep flight tickets to get there.

The consecration of Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22 has placed the Uttar Pradesh town on the pilgrimage tourism circuit, usually dominated by Varanasi (Kashi), Prayagraj (Allahabad) and Naimisharanya (near Lucknow) in the state and Bodh Gaya in neighbouring Bihar.

Ram temple, Hanuman Garhi, Sita Ki Rasoi and evening aarti along the Sarayu river are the main attractions.

‘Too few hotels’

Karthik Marathe, a partner in Nesara Tours, Nagarbhavi, has turned down many requests because the hospitality infrastructure in Ayodhya is “severely underequipped” to meet the current demand. 

Ranjith Bhanumurthy, managing director, Nethaji Tours, Yeswanthpur, explains, “Ayodhya currently has 5-6 good hotels. The rest are two-star hotels. Since a majority of our clients are elderly people, they prefer 3-star or luxury hotels, which can offer them both north and south Indian meals.”

Due to a dearth of hotels, Rajajinagar-located Saniya Holidays has booked one group each for February and March instead of two as it would have done in the past. 

The sudden attention on Ayodhya has led to a steep rise in prices of hotel rooms and tour operators are struggling to tailor a budget-friendly package for clients. “The cost of a room in 3-star hotels has climbed from the usual Rs 3,500 a night to Rs 5,000 now. Rooms in 5-star hotels are Rs 22,000-25,000 per night (up from Rs 13,000),” says Karthik.

Owing to the paucity of decent hotels and also vans and mini buses to ferry tourists, most companies are instead booking day tours to Ayodhya from Lucknow or Varanasi. These cities are three to six hours away by car.

Plans postponed

To beat crowding and steep pricing, some Bengalureans are planning their trip six months from now, says Chandan R from R Gandhi Tours, Thyagraja Nagar. To cash in on the Ayodhya rush, his company launched dailykashiyatra.com in November. It books tours to Ayodhya in combination with locations like Varanasi, Haridwar and Agra. “Between our two companies, we have got 50-60 enquiries for Ayodhya so far,” he says. 

Some are pushing their Ayodhya plans because the number and frequency of flights to Ayodhya’s Maharishi Valmiki International Airport are too few and expensive. 

Trends

The Sarayu river is gaining interest. “Now, people want to take a dip in the holy river. Earlier, we never got such requests,” says Ranjith. People are opting for Ayodhya as an extra stop in the existing Kashi packages rather than booking exclusive tours. “It just takes a day to go around Ayodhya,” explains Karthik.

Earlier, a 5-night-6-day deal covering Varanasi, Prayagraj, Ayodhya, Lucknow, Naimisharanya, and Bodh Gaya was sought after. The demand is shifting towards a 3-night-4-day itinerary spanning Varanasi, Ayodhya and
Lucknow. This falls in the range of Rs 30,000 and Rs 36,000 per head. Ranjith says, “Everybody is pressed for time.”

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Published 21 February 2024, 01:55 IST

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