President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday embarked on a train journey to visit his birthplace in Uttar Pradesh, where he will interact with his old acquaintances from school days and the early days of his social service.
It would be after a gap of 15 years that an incumbent president is travelling by train.
"President Kovind boards a special presidential train from Safdarjung railway station to Kanpur. The train will make two stop-overs, at Jhinjhak and Rura of Kanpur Dehat, and will reach Kanpur Central in the evening," the Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
President Kovind boards a special Presidential train from Safdarjung railway station to Kanpur. The train will make two stop-overs, at Jhinjhak and Rura of Kanpur Dehat, and will reach Kanpur Central in the evening. pic.twitter.com/ZuMpkGjqxP— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) June 25, 2021
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal can also be seen in pictures tweeted by the Rashtrapati Bhavan of the president boarding the train.
This is the first time that President Kovind will visit his birthplace after becoming the president.
Though he had desired to visit the place earlier, it could not materialise because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"As he boards the train, the president will be travelling down the memory lane that will cover a span of seven decades of his life, right from his childhood to holding the top constitutional position in the country," a statement issued on Wednesday by the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said.
The two stop-overs at Jhinjhak and Rura are close to the president's birthplace, Paraunkh village in Kanpur Dehat.
The last time a president travelled by train was in 2006 when A P J Abdul Kalam boarded a special train from Delhi to Dehradun to attend the passing-out parade of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) cadets.
Records show that the country's first president, Rajendra Prasad, often undertook train journeys, the Rashtrapati Bhavan had said.
Soon after taking office as the president, he visited his birthplace, Ziradei in Bihar's Siwan district.
President Rajendra Prasad boarded the president's special train from Chhapra to reach Ziradei, where he spent three days, the statement said.
He travelled across the country by train. His successors also preferred train journeys to connect with the people.
On June 28, President Kovind will board the train at the Kanpur Central railway station to reach Lucknow for his visit to the capital city of Uttar Pradesh.
The railways said that the service of the Presidential Saloon which was in use since independence had been discontinued on the instructions of the President.
"This saved the exchequer crores of rupees annually utilized in the making and maintenance of the saloon. Post-Covid as the country enters into resurgence and a rebuilding mode, the Indian Railways had requested the President to travel by the people''s transport," the Northern Railways said in a statement.
It said a special train service was run for his excellency to travel from Delhi to his native village.
"This move will be a great morale booster for the railwaymen who have diligently given their services throughout the difficult pandemic times. This will also help to encourage and build confidence among the people to use the trains to travel for business, tourism and other purposes to different parts of the country," the statement issued on Friday said.
Railway Minister Goyal, who was present at the station to see off Kovind, thanked him for using the railways for his journey and expressed that post-pandemic, the vast rail network will help the country to regain its economic glory very soon.
On June 29, he will return to New Delhi on a special flight.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)