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Decline In Travel To Ayodhya: Reduced Flights, Trains, And Buses Signal Waning Craze For Ram Mandir

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Ayodhya: The once soaring interest in Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir appears to be waning, evidenced by a significant reduction in flights, trains, and bus services to the city over the past six weeks. The operation of special trains has ceased, and buses from other states to Ayodhya have been cut back, indicating a decline in passenger flow.

SpiceJet was the first airline to halt direct flights from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Patna to Ayodhya due to low demand. This decision came just two months after the service began. In April 2024, SpiceJet had started flights from Hyderabad to Ayodhya, operating three times a week. However, the last flight was on June 1. Currently, Indigo and Air India continue to operate flights from Hyderabad to Ayodhya. Airline company employees attribute this reduction to the decreased number of passengers traveling to Ayodhya.

Maharishi Valmiki Airport Director Vinod Kumar commented on the situation, noting that while SpiceJet had stopped its direct service to Hyderabad, traffic remained steady with around 4,000 people commuting. He emphasized that the decision to start and stop flights rests with the airlines, which base their operations on passenger numbers. Kumar remains optimistic, expecting an increase in passengers as the weather cools down.

The Indian Railways has also stopped operating special trains to Ayodhya. The Astha Special trains, introduced for pilgrims post-consecration, have been discontinued due to declining demand. Despite this, 32 to 35 trains continue to arrive daily at Ayodhya Dham and Ayodhya Cantt stations, bringing in approximately 28,000 passengers.

Railway officials noted that although there was a high demand for trains to Ayodhya up until May 15, there has been a slight decrease since then. However, all trains to Ayodhya remain full.

Similarly, bus services to Ayodhya from other states have been reduced. Currently, 396 roadways buses are operating within the state, but the number of buses coming from other states has been significantly cut back. As of now, only one bus each from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Delhi are operating.

The influx of devotees to Ayodhya saw a surge after the Pran Pratishtha ceremony on January 22, with about 1.5 lakh devotees visiting daily from January to March 2024. However, this number decreased in April, and from April to May, around 1 lakh devotees visited daily. Recently, this figure has dropped to between 60,000 and 80,000, with specific counts such as 83,000 on Tuesday, 70,000 on Saturday, and 78,000 on Sunday.

Ram Janmabhoomi trustee Anil Mishra attributed the decrease in the number of pilgrims to the intense heat experienced over the past month. He believes that as the weather normalizes, the number of devotees will increase. Mishra emphasized that this is the first year of Pran Pratishtha, making it difficult to predict future trends accurately.

Hoteliers in Ayodhya are also reporting a decline in business. The current crowds mostly consist of local people from neighboring districts who do not stay overnight, leading to lower hotel occupancy compared to the first three months after the consecration.

“The people who can afford it are arriving on morning flights, having darshan during the day, and leaving by evening. Since there isn’t much for devotees to do in Ayodhya besides visiting Hanumangarhi and Ram Mandir, people are not staying overnight,” said Sharad Kapoor, an office-bearer of the Faizabad Hotel Association.

Bhanu Pratap Singh, a local resident said that local dharmashalas are still full. People from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Kerala and despite the current decline, officials and stakeholders remain hopeful that the number of visitors to Ayodhya will rebound in the coming months.


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