AP govt introduces helicopter services to Vijayawada temple towns

Amaravati,Nov8: As part of its efforts to promote temple tourism in the state, Andhra Pradesh government is set to introduce helicopter services to important temple towns from Vijayawada.

Summit Aviation, a private operator, will operate the helicopter tours, while the state government will provide necessary logistical support, including ‘darshan’ for pilgrims in important temples like Tirumala.

According to Principal Secretary (Revenue-Endowments) J S V Prasad, Summit Aviation will initially operate heli-tourism services from Vijayawada to Tirupati and Srisailam.

The state government directed collectors of Krishna and Chittoor districts to build helipads in Vijayawada and Tirupati on a war footing so as to launch the copter services soon. The existing helipad at Sunnipenta near Kurnool will also be utilised for Srisailam trip.

“The government has been making efforts to connect major religious places by air and provide hassle-free ‘darshan’, transport, accommodation and other facilities to pilgrims.

“The NRI community has been repeatedly requesting the government to provide air services. We have given priority to tourism in general and religious tourism in particular in view of its enormous potential to the state’s economy,” Prasad said in an order today.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has been asked to provide accommodation and darshan facility to the “heli-pilgrims”.

“This will promote heli-tourism, besides making darshan of Tirumala, Srisailam, Kalahasti and Tiruchanur Devasthanams easier for non-resident Telugus (NRT),” the Principal Secretary said.

As part of temple tourism in Andhra Pradesh, helicopter service was inaugurated to Srisailam on Saturday.

Summit Aviation Director N.V.R.Suresh speaking on the occasion said that the fare is fixed at Rs.15,000 per head from Hyderabad to Srisailam and back. The air journey from Hyderabad to Srisailam is 45 minutes. The temple staff will take the devotees from the helipad to an AC room for them and arrange puja including kumkumarchana and abhishekam to swamyvarlu. Later, they the devotees will be taken to Patalaganga on ropeway and boating will be arranged to them. For this, the temple authorities will collect Rs.2,000 per devote.

He said that a joy trip is being arrange for middle class and common man on helicopter at a price of Rs.2,500 for 10 minute ride