In the last twenty years, India has done much to restore its proud tradition of exemplary travel by rail. At the height of the British Empire’s incursion into India, railroads crossed the land from one border to the another, ferrying passengers in exquisite style across India’s vast distances. These rail cars boasted the latest in Victorian comfort and often featured silver cutlery, Limoges china, crystal glassware, brass fittings and sumptuous surroundings.
That focus on luxury travel with all the modern conveniences is thriving today in India’s masterful reproduction of those bygone days. Personal butlers, gourmet meals and some of the world’s finest tourist locations all round out the unforgettable experience, making travel by India’s railways more about the journey than the destination.
The Golden Chariot
A week-long journey through some of India’s most fascinating sights is only one benefit of travelling on this meticulous modern reproduction luxury train. Every passenger need has been thoughtfully answered, from the two restaurants and lounge cars featuring the best of Continental and Indian cuisine to the tastefully fitted private rooms with all modern conveniences and gym car featuring Ayurveda massages and exercise equipment. Staff members put a high priority on making passengers feel comfortable and attending to their every request.
The itinerary has the train leaving from Bangalore and includes a visit to Nagarhole National Park in Kabini, where visitors can enjoy a safari through lush jungle a lunch at a resort restaurant. The journey then moves on to Hassan, where visitors can climb the 700 steep steps of Shravanabelagola to experience the unparalleled view from this architectural masterpiece. The train then travels on to Hospet and Badami before heading on to the lovely sandy seashores of Goa before returning to Bangalore.
The Maharaja Express
Travel in lavish comfort while visiting some of UNESCO’s most famous World Heritage sites. There are ancient tombs and a wealth of carved stone gates in Aurangabad, a city perfect for history buffs or those who love art. The famous city of Agra is the site of the stunning Taj Mahal, a tribute dedicated to the lost love of the Emperor Shah Jahan. Passengers also have the opportunity to visit Varanasi, a city situated right on the banks of the holy Ganges River. Here visitors can wander through the streets enjoying the colour and energy of local life, shopping in the many markets or touring the vast array of historic temples that are scattered throughout the city.
The Maharaja Express treats passengers to every modern comfort, including individual cabin climate control, WiFi, DVD players and even butler service. Modelled on the grand and sumptuous palace rooms of the Maharajas, each area of the train, both public and private, is equipped to facilitate enjoyment of the journey. The dining and observation cars have comfortable seating and lavish decorations and delicious menu items, all befitting India’s history of luxurious train journeys.
The Palace On Wheels
Spanning the length and breadth of Rajasthan at the pinnacle of sumptuous comfort, the Palace on Wheels conveys passengers on a journey that recalls the height of luxury in rail travel. In 1982, innovative investors dreamed of restoring some of the most luxurious steam trains to their former glory, allowing travellers the opportunity to travel in true style. Thus, the project to refurbish the Palace On Wheels was born. Drawing on the history of loyal aides to the Maharajah and his family known as “Khidmatgars,” The Palace On Wheels provides exemplary service from these attentive servers, who are eager to accommodate any request.
Rajasthan was the site of a number of historical Indian kingdoms and provides visitors the opportunity to travel back in time to India’s Golden Age, all while being conveyed in a magnificent setting. Starting in Delhi, the train travels to the cities of Jodhpur and Jaipur, where sights such as the Mehrangarh Fort and Hawa Mahal, known as the Palace of Winds, will be anticipated destinations. The train also travels through Khajuraho, a city known for its beautiful temples and Sawai Madhopur, where visitors can watch Bengal tigers in their natural habitat before returning to Delhi.
The Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
Similar to the route taken by the Palace On Wheels, the Royal Rajasthan On Wheels tours this exotic and beautiful province from the vantage point of supreme luxury. Exquisite attention to detail is the hallmark of each coach on this train, featuring rare inlaid silk panels on the walls, elaborate brass fittings and gourmet dishes served in the train’s two restaurants. An onboard spa provides relaxation as the journey commences, offering the most modern and ancient treatments to reduce stress, promote restfulness and renew weary travellers. There’s even the opportunity to buy souvenirs of a visit on the train.
The train crisscrosses Rajasthan on its journey, taking in the sights of some of its most famous cities, such as Jodhpur, Chittorgarh, Khajuraho and Varanasi before ending at the ethereal site of the Taj Mahal. The Royal Rajasthan is fitted with enormous windows, perfect for viewing the countryside as it flashes by from the comfort of each sumptuous train car. Passengers also have the opportunity to use a lovely resort swimming pool during their excursion, perfect for cooling off under the high Indian sun. There’s also ample opportunity for spying exotic bird species at the nature reserves and on the bird safari.
The Deccan Odyssey
From its luxury conference car to its fully-fitted spa, the Deccan Odyssey is focused on providing travelers with the very latest in modern convenience while recalling the lavish environs enjoyed by the royal families of India for thousands of years. Passengers will luxuriate in the comfortable but tastefully decorated surroundings of their private cabins while enjoying necessities such as plasma T.V.s, DVD players, Internet access, gaming equipment and a range of publications that will make whiling away the hours between stops an enjoyable experience. Personalized attendants on the train serve as butlers awaiting a passenger’s every command, completing the ambiance of true luxury.
The train travels through the incomparable Indian countryside, bound for cities such as Daulatabad, where visitors can explore the city’s hilltop fort, an architectural marvel of its day. The thriving city of Mumbai offers travellers the opportunity for some retail therapy as they explore the many fine shops on offer. The city also gives travellers the opportunity to experience beach culture and savour the many food sensations that make this part of India one of the premier gourmet foodie stops of the world. The Ajanta Caves are another sight unique to India, a complex of underground caverns filled with intricate sculptures and painted carvings depicting mythic scenes. A famous World Heritage site known as Pattadakkal enthrals visitors with ancient buildings dating back to 700 C.E. and featuring temples, commercial and residential buildings.
Tourists can purchase train tickets either at the railway stations or online at the Indian Railways website upto 60 days in advance.
Author: Araluen Centre
Araluen Centre are a high-quality art and travel blog with creative contributors from all over the world.