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Bhopal City
Madhya Pradesh BJP government includes Ayodhya in free pilgrimage scheme
13-03-2015

BHOPAL: The grand temple promised by the BJP at Ayodhya may not be in sight as yet but pilgrims in the party-ruled Madhya Pradesh will soon be able to visit the disputed shrine and other places of religious importance in the Uttar Pradesh town at government expense.

Ayodhya was on Thursday added to the list of religious places covered under Mukhya Mantri Teertha darshan Yojana, a popular scheme under which senior citizens and their attendants go on pilgrimage, the entire cost of which is borne by the state government.

More than 2.5 lakh senior citizens have visited different religious places in the country since 2012 when the scheme was announced by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. The scheme has been copied by a few other states and some have announced plans to do so.

Mathura, Prayag, Ganga Sagar, St Thomas Church (Kerala) and the birth place of Sant Kabir (Lahartara) were the other five places added to the list at a meeting called to review the scheme on Thursday. Besides several Hindu temples, the existing list has one place associated with Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Budhism.

The meeting also decided to increase the subsidy for pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. MP is the only state that subsidizes travel to holy places in Pakistan (Nankana Saheb Shrine and Hinglaj Mata temple), China (Kailash Man Sarovar), Cambodia (Angkor Vat) and Sri Lanka (Sita Mandir and Ashok Vatika).