With the provincial government having decided to revive the British-era steam engine as part of a safari train project in the province, it has now decided to align it with historical and religious sites along its route in the province to attract a particular segment of tourists as well as the general tourist.
This was discussed during a board meeting of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Culture and Tourism Authority (K-PCTA) on Wednesday. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan chaired the meeting.
K-P Sports, Tourism and Culture Department Secretary Abid Majeed told the media that the steam safari train will chug on two routes, taking tourists and passengers to the two different but historically significant destinations in the province.
He said that one route will take passengers from Peshawar to Attock Khurd, while the other will take tourists from the provincial capital to the historical archaeological sites in Takht-e-Bahi in Mardan.
With the British-era train closed since 2008 due to militancy, the K-PCTA will work in collaboration with Pakistan Railways to revive the two routes, especially the one leading to Mardan, Majeed said.
The secretary said that tangible steps were being taken for the promotion of heritage tourism in the province.
Attock Khurd, he said, houses the historical Attock Fort which had been built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1581. Along the route is the Bahram ki Baradari, another Mughal-era monument, located on mountains overlooking the southern side of the Grand Trunk Road near Attock Khurd.
Takht-e-Bahi hosts the historical ruins of a significant Buddhist monastery.
On why the routes were limited to Mardan and Attock Khurd, he said that two bridges in Khyber were destroyed which will need to be rebuilt before the safari route can be expanded to Landikotal.
Majeed said that the Peshawar to Attock Khurd is a 184-kilometre round trip, with travel for one side taking around 90 minutes.
The Mardan trip is around 162 kilometres.Indoor games facility in Nowshera
The K-PCTA also decided to set up a motorsports arena in Nowshera district under a public-private partnership.
The proposed arena will have facilities including horse riding, rafting, boating, swimming, family huts, shopping centre, hotels, restaurants.
The meeting was further informed that a project with an estimated cost of Rs3.04 billion had been approved for the construction of two different access roads to the historical Shaikh Badeen tourist site located in the south of the province. The meeting approved the annual grant-in-aid 2020-21 for the tourism authority and regulations for the scrutiny committee constituted for the absorption of tourism corporation employees into the K-PCTA.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2020.
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