Indian pilgrims surf train in huge numbers en route to holy festival

Indian trains struggled to ferry more than one million pilgrims heading to attend a five-day annual festival in Junagadh, Gujarat in western India.

A Jodhpur-Junagadh train, which carried the first lot of pilgrims on Sunday (November 18), was so packed that passengers were forced to sit on the roof of the train and on either side of the engine.

Many residents of Junagadh said officials failed to arrange an adequate number of special trains despite knowing that the annual fair, ‘Lili Parikrama’ attracts more than a million devotees.

The five-day festival, in which pilgrims walk a distance of 36 kilometres around the sacred mountain Girnar, kicked off on November 19.

Indian officials said special trains and buses had been deployed to transport the passengers.

A large posse of Railway Protection Force personnel has also been posted and train speeds had been reduced to avoid coping with the rush, they added.

“We are asking pilgrims not to travel on the roofs of trains,” said Trupti Gupte, Divisional Security Commissioner of Western Railway addressing local news agency Press Trust of India.