State govt’s Diwali gift to Patnaites: Phaeton ride

PATNA: Bihar’s tourism department has gifted people a royal ride this Diwali. Now tourists in Bihar would be able to enjoy a phaeton ride a la Queen Elizabeth II who travels in a phaeton carriage during Queen’s Birthday Parade in London.

Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi will formally gift the facility to Patnaites on Tuesday, i.e Diwali eve. Incidentally, the horse carriage facility was formally inaugurated on Saturday at Rajgir.

“Apart from Rajgir, the phaetons have been brought to the state capital for tourists who visit the state capital. Visitors can enjoy a two-km ride here at Rs 100-Rs 150 per ride,” said Bihar tourism minister Sunil Kumar Pintu.

The Nalanda district administration and the Bihar State Tourism Department Corporation (BSTDC) introduced four phaetons (horse-drawn carriages) for tourists to enjoy phaeton rides at the foothills of Ratnagiri in Rajgir. The phaetons were inaugurated by Nalanda DM Sanjay Kumar Agrawal.

“We are running the phaetons in a systematic way. In just two days, the Patiala-made phaetons have drawn the fancy of both domestic and foreign tourists,” Agarwal told TOI.

This apart, two phaetons have been brought to the state capital to be inaugurated by Modi at Eco Park (Rajdhani Vatika) on October 25. The phaetons would run between the Eco Park and Raj Bhavan every day.

“Ownership of these phaetons has been given to four selected tongawallas. The contacts of these tongawalas have been given at premium hotels. Tourists can avail the 6-km tour service from the ropeway here,” Agrawal said.

The phaetons are presently covering a five-km stretch from the ropeway to Swarn Bhandar to Maniar Math, Brahmakund and Virayatan and to the main market at Rajgir. Although the district administration has not yet finalized the cost of the ride, as of now an amount of Rs 500 is being charged for a ride of four persons.

Though the exact fares for the rides have not been finalized yet, it would vary between Rs 100 and Rs 200 at both the places. Free mineral water and local newspapers will be provided to the riders as well. A visitors’ book has been kept in the phaetons for riders’ advice and comments about the service.

Although the authorities at Rajgir plan to extend the phaeton ride to Ghorakatora, it would take some more time. “The phaetons are currently not going to Ghorakatora which is about seven km away from the ropeway. The carriage ride extend to Ghorakatora Lake probably after this month,” said an official.

In the past, there have been a few complaints about the tongawallas’ behaviour. To ensure that there were no such complaints this time, four tongawallas of Rajgir have been given specialized training on good behaviour. This will also enable them to brief tourists about the historical sites in a better way.

“Once this facility (phaeton ride) turns out to be a success we will upgrade all the existing 500-odd tongas in Rajgir, the official said.


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