Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that State Government would be taking up the issue of linking historic Gurudwaras in the State under ‘Spiritual Journey to the Guru’s Abode’ to visit historic Sikh shrines in the State.

Chief Minister said that Himachal Pradesh is an abode of God and Goddesses and had a number of prominent religious shrines including historic Gurudwaras. He said that since Una had been connected with broad gauge railway line which too had a historic Sikh Shrine. He said that if the proposed train enroute to Golden Temple in Amritsar, was diverted through Una in Himachal Pradesh, pilgrims would be benefited with paying their obeisance at one more historic Sikh shrine at Una as well. He said that if the proposed special train service, popularly named as ‘Panj Takht Yatra’ for Sikh devotees, on the analogy of the ‘Char Dhaam Yatra’, was routed through Himachal Pradesh, devotees would be benefited with visiting yet another State. He said that with the linking of Sikh shrines in Himachal Pradesh through the special train undertaking spiritual journey all over the country, international tourists would be attracted to visit Himachal Pradesh in larger number not only for religious tourism but other activities as well. He said that possibilities needed also to be explored to connect another historic Sikh Shrine at Paonta Sahib by extending railway line from Ambala and onward to Dehradun.

Prof. Dhumal said that Himachal Pradesh had been blessed with immense natural grandeur besides peaceful environment. He said that besides potential for religious, natural, adventure tourism, the State had facilities for water sports in Gobind Sagar, Pong Dam and Chamera reservoirs as well. He said that with the linking of Una with special pilgrimage train tourist inflow would be increased substantially. He said that the State had registered 1.5 crore tourists during preceding year which included 4.85 lakh foreigners as well. He said that the State Government had been endeavouring to upgrade tourism infrastructural facilities and explore lesser known destinations to divert tourist traffic from urban to rural areas. He said that the State Government was committed to strengthen tourism sector so that more employment and self-employment avenues were generated to educated unemployed youth. He said that with the diversion of tourists to rural areas economic activities would also get boosted up. He directed the authorities to take up the issue of special train to Una at the appropriate level with the Government of India so that the state was also benefited.

Dr. Arun Sharma, Director of Tourism and Civil Aviation, welcomed the Chief Minister and apprised him of the new initiatives being taken by the Department to intensify tourism promotion activities. He said that during second phase of ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ 12 more circuits would be developed in the State besides bringing out another edition of coffee table book. He said that the initiatives taken during past four years had yielded desired outcome and the State had won record number of national and international awards in tourism sector alone. He said that efforts were afoot to give new dimensions to tourism activities so that it could emerge a household affair in the State.