Besides being the largest means of transport in India, trains also facilitate a traveller to explore the awe-inspiring landscapes and territories of such a vast country in the most interesting and engaging manner. There is an exclusive fleet of luxury trains in India to augment your overall travelling experience and give you an opportunity to savour the taste of Indian royalty. These rail journeys have been exclusively designed to take you through the various world heritage sites, palaces and forts. The history of India’s luxury trains traces back to the era of the erstwhile Indian Nawabs and Maharajas, who used to travel in these luxurious locomotives. The first luxury train for public in India, was introduced in 1982, as “Palace on Wheels” by the Rajasthan Tourism and Development Corporation. Taking a cue from the success of that luxury train, Indian railways consequently launched other luxury trains, which traverse across different parts and landscapes of India. Each train has been based on a particular theme and astutely furnished with all the modern amenities to fulfil all your luxury desires. Let us take a look at all these magnificent trains:
Palace on Wheels
This first pan-country luxury train has been voted as the fourth best luxurious train in the world. The “Palace on Wheels” made its first run on January 26, 1982. It was refurbished completely and re-launched in August 2009 with a new look and a host of modern luxuries. This luxury train takes you back in time, as you chug through the fascinating landscape of Rajasthan. There are 14 salons on the train with each named after the provinces of Rajasthan. Two lavish restaurants of this train are named as Maharaja and Maharani Restaurants and they truly justify their titles by offering the best in local cuisines amidst the utmost luxury. Other excellent luxury facilities include spa, exotic bar, live TV, seamless Internet connectivity, and music.
The Palace on Wheels Itinerary
Schedule: The train runs from October to April every year.
Number of days: According to the itinerary, journey duration varies from 8 to 13 Days.
Destinations Covered: Delhi-Jaipur- Udaipur- Swai Madhopur- Chittorgarh- Jaisalmer- Jodhpur- Bharatpur- Agra-Delhi.
The Golden Chariot
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) started the Golden Chariot train, which made its maiden run on March 10, 2008. This luxury train travels across the captivating landscape of South India, covering most popular tourist destinations in the states of Karnataka and Goa. It is named after the prominent world heritage site, the Stone Chariot in Hampi, the gem of Karnataka tourism. There are 19 coaches on the train and painted with purple and gold colours. Besides other modern facilities, there are two lavish restaurants, a lounge bar coach and a gym coach. It takes you across all the significant destinations of South India with a lot to savour in heritage, wildlife and natural splendour. One can explore the beauty and vastness of this part of India amidst excellent luxury and comfort.
Schedule: All these itineraries run from October to March every year.
The Golden Chariot Itinerary
Number of days: 7 Nights / 8 Days
Destinations Covered: Bangalore – Mysore – Hampi – Belur – Kabini – Badami – Goa – Bangalore
The Southern Splendour Itinerary
Number of days: 7 Nights / 8 Days
Destinations Covered: Bangalore – Chennai – Mamallapuram – Pondicherry – Tiruchirapalli – Thanjavur – Madurai – Thiruvananthapuram – Poovar – Kochi – Kerala Backwaters
The Maharaja Express
The newest member of India’s luxury trains fleet, the Maharaja Express made its first run on January 9th, 2010. It is a joint venture of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the travel agency Cox and Kings in India. This luxury train has also won the prestigious World Travel Award as Asia’s best luxury train. There are all the requisite facilities on board with a magnificent dining coach, bar, lounge, and in-suite bathrooms. This train takes you through some exotic destinations across West and North India. Royal India and Classical India are two different itineraries of the same train.
Schedule: All these itineraries run from October to April every year.
The Maharaja Express Itinerary
Destinations Covered: Mumbai – Vadodara – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Bikaner – Jaipur – Ranthambore – Agra – Delhi
The Royal India Itinerary
Royal India: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Destinations Covered: Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Bikaner – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Vadodara – Mumbai
The Classical India Itinerary
Classical India: 7 Days / 6 Nights
Destinations Covered: Delhi – Agra – Gwalior – Khajuraho – Bandhavgarh – Varanasi – Lucknow – Delhi
Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) runs the “Royal Rajasthan on Wheels” luxury train. Actually, it is an improvised version of the “Palace on Wheels,” runs on a similar route, and completes its journey in 7 days. This royal carriage is complemented by all the luxury facilities including restaurants, bar, fitness centre, spa and salons. Experience the best of luxury in the land of Maharaja and explore the marvellous heritage destinations of Rajasthan, Agra, Varanasi, and Khajuraho.
The Royal Rajasthan Itinerary
Royal Rajasthan: 8 Days/ 7 Nights
Destinations Covered: New Delhi- Jodhpur- Udaipur- Chittorgarh- Sawai Madhopur- Jaipur- Khajuraho- Varanasi- Agra- New Delhi.
Schedule: The train runs from October to March every year.
The Deccan Odyssey
The Deccan Odyssey is jointly run and maintained by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and the Indian Railways. It chugs across the various heritage sites of Maharashtra, Goa and Konkan route. There are 21 luxury coaches, equipped with two plush restaurants and a bar, a sauna, and a spa among other facilities. There is another luxury train in this segment, which is called The Indian Maharaja and it runs from Mumbai to Delhi, covering various heritage sites. The Heritage of Maharashtra is a different itinerary of the same train. It covers various heritage locations in Maharashtra.
Schedule: All these itineraries run from September to April every year.
The Deccan Odyssey Itinerary
Number of Days: 7 Nights/8 Days
Destination Covered: Mumbai-Ajanta & Ellora Caves-Udaipur Lake City-Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve- Jaipur – Taj Mahal at Agra -Delhi
The Heritage of Maharashtra Itinerary
Heritage of Maharashtra
Number of Days: 7 Nights/8 Days
Destinations Covered: Mumbai-Sindhudurg-Goa-Kolhapur-Daulatabad-Chandrapur-Ajanta Caves-Nashik-Mumbai