“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
Truly, a vital aspect of holiday fun is the travel itself and when that journey is on a luxurious train with interesting travel partners, it’s sure to be a voyage of a lifetime. India’s luxury rail cruises take travelers on a journey through time to memorable places both within and outside the regular tourist circuit; the sights you see and the experience of the journey are sure to be unforgettable.
A world apart from the regular train services of India, luxury trains like the Maharajas’ Express, Palace on Wheels, The Golden Chariot and the Deccan Odyssey, offer an experience that can only be described as royal. The combination of comfortable train travel with well-charted tour itineraries ensure that you visit India’s most scenic and exquisite sites as well as experience the best of the country’s cultural highlights.
The hospitality starts even before you board the train; staff welcome guests with garland and tilaks (vermillion powder applied as a mark on the forehead); a live band plays music and carpets are laid out for all guests who board this train. The interiors are delightfully Indian, yet conveniently modern to match today’s travel needs. The suite cabins are luxurious with classic furnishing and modern amenities like televisions, DVD players, wi-fi connectivity and plenty of storage space.
Maybe because some of these luxury trains were designed initially for Indian royalty, gracious service and royal facilities are part of the package; you’ll have your own butler, the dining car with its panoramic windows serves food and drinks fit for traveling monarchs and throughout the train journey as well as the land trips, every effort is taken to make sure you are comfortable. There are also special carriages for recreation, spa services and gyms.
I’ve always felt that one of the best advantages of train travel is the company you get; some of these people remain friends long after the journey is over. Luxury trains like the Palace on Wheels and Deccan Odyssey that have itineraries spanning more than five days are wonderful places to meet new people from different countries and backgrounds; explore new places with newly found friends and cherish this experience.
If you thought the Taj Mahal is India’s unique masterpiece, a journey on any of these luxury trains will open your eyes to the hidden wonders of India. Yes, the Taj is a part of the tour package offered by Maharajas’ Express, Palace on Wheels, The Indian Maharaja and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, but there are plenty of other gems in India that are covered in these itineraries. These exquisite sites are sure to take you on a journey back in time.
The Golden Chariot takes its guests to heritage sites in South India like the shore temples of Mahabalipuram and the Brihadeswara Temple of Tanjavur. Experience the stunning sound at light show at Madurai’s historic Thirumalai Nayak Mahal and enjoy a relaxing houseboat cruise at Alappuzha, all in the same tour.
The Pride of The South is another train that explores the stately town of Mysore where you can visit its palaces, the Brindavan Gardens and Srirangapatna. Enjoy a jungle safari at the Bandipur National Park and gaze at the architectural wonders of Shravanabelagola and Hampi. In a complete shift of scenery, the train moves on through Goa, the party capital and after a day of fun, takes you back to Bangalore.
The Deccan Odyssey mingles modern with traditional- take in the flurry of Mumbai along with the silence of the Ajanta and Ellora caves; visit pulsating Goa, ethnic Kolhapur, the historically important ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and the charming town of Nashik in this tour.
The Indian Maharaja is a royal journey from the financial capital of India, Mumbai to the political capital, Delhi; visit the beautiful Ajanta & Ellora caves, the splendid palaces of Udaipur and the famous tiger reserve of Ranthambore.
The Maharajas’ Express has a similar route and covers Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner in addition. Full of history and eye-catching architecture, these towns are lovely to visit.
Of course, luxury comes with a price; booking a tour on any of these trains could cost you thousands of dollars. But the experience and services are completely worth the price. And of course, you’d be saving on hotel, food and travel costs when you take up a complete package on these royal trains.