The school in Vadnagar where Modi studied
FANS of Narendra Modi have been given a boost, with plans to expand bus tours of the town where the future Indian prime minister grew up and worked at his father's tea stall.
The weekly tour has become so popular since starting early this year that daily excursions are being planned to the tiny town in Gujarat where the charismatic premier was born, said the travel agency running them.
'We have been taking about 56 tourists every week since February. Now with the increase in demand we plan to make it a daily tour' of about 45 passengers, Manish Sharma, from Akshar Travels, said.
Sharma said the tour, titled 'A Rise From Modi's Village', costs Rs600 (£6/$9) per person. It starts from the state's largest city Ahmedabad before travelling the 120 kilometres (75 miles) to Vadnagar.
Apart from visiting Modi's former schools such as the Vadnagar Prathmik Kumar Shala, the tour includes a visit to Sharmistha Lake 'where Modi's childhood began with an adventure of catching a baby crocodile', according to an itinerary on Gujarat tourism's website.
Included in the tour is a visit to the town's railway station where Modi as a child famously helped his father sell tea, along with the house where he was born.
'For those wanting to know more about Modiji, we have arranged meetings with his school classmates, who provide unheard tales about Modiji when he was a student. We then take tourists to the Hatkeshwar Temple, where our PM (prime minister) used to play the drums during prayers,' said Akshar Travels tour manager Pankaj Chaudhari.
Visitors also have the chance to see the Vadnagar-based high school where Modi performed various roles in dramas.
'We are also beginning a marketing campaign for this package in the US, Europe, China and Middle Eastern countries for the next tourist season (starting) in December,' Sharma said.
According to officials from the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL), this special package has given a new lease of life to Vadanagar, which houses places of historical importance.
'Vadnagar was always known as a historical place, mainly due to its ancient Buddhist caves and monuments built by Solanki rulers in the 10th century. Now, Vadnagar is gaining popularity as the birthplace of our Prime Minister. This idea of a special tour package has given a new lease of life to the town,' said Khyati Nayak from the organisation.
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