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Mihika Jindal

Luxury on wheels: Travel through Indian landscapes in style

Ninetheenth century India boasts a culture replete with grand cultural artefacts, preserved in the form of forts and palaces. Those spots, today, provide modern generations a taste of a bygone era and a glorious past. To carry forth that legacy, to recreate that royal experience, the Indian Railways has, in association with various state governments, been running several luxury trains that flaunt a certain degree of extravagance. A few of these travel in and around Rajasthan, one covers the southern landscapes of India, and yet another stretches from the mighty deserts to the regal backdrops of Uttar Pradesh. Here is all you need to know about the luxury trains operating in India.

Maharaja's Express

The Maharajas of 19th century India were deeply fascinated with their machines. So much so that Maharaja Pratapsingh Gaekwad gifted his son a fully functional toy train that operated on proper 10-inch gauge rails on his birthday. An extension of that fascination is the Maharaj's Express — a luxury train that has been awarded the prestigious "World's Leading Luxury Train" award at the World Travel Award for the last three years running. The train offers its esteemed guests a visit to fabled destinations spanning the richness of culture and heritage that western India lays claim to. The half mile long train redefines comfort and luxury, offering a peak into the lifestyle of the princely era.Image 2nd

They have five specially crafted itineraries — three 7 nights/8 day options that include The Indian Panorama, The Indian Splendour and The Heritage of India, which travels through major cities in Rajasthan, celebrated destinations such Orcha and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, and further ahead to Mumbai and Ajanta. For anyone looking for a shorter vacation, they also offer a 3 night/4 day package that begins in Delhi, and covers Agra and Jaipur through Ranthambore.

Travel and tariff: The train journeys begin on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. The Presidential suite costs $ 23,700 for 7 night/8 day and $12,900 for 3 night/4 day.

For details and bookings:

Palace on Wheels

Each one of the 14 coaches on the Palace on Wheels, one of the country's most recognisable trains, has been named after the Rajput states. Every inch of this train has a distinctly regal air to it. Mini pantries in all coaches ensure prompt, round-the-clock service, while deluxe rooms take care of all imaginable comforts. Two plush multi-cuisine restaurants, featuring authentic Rajasthani ambience, add to the experience, and there's also a bar and a lounge inside the train. Their seven-day package commences and concludes in Delhi, covering all major spots in Rajasthan. The package includes day touring in the cities, visits to the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, the Lake Palace in Udaipur, the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur, and more. Further, the journey also includes the havelis and dunes of Jaisalmer, the Ranthambore tiger reserve in Chhitorgarh through Madhopur, and the Bharatpur bird sanctuary on the return journey to the capital.

Travel and tariff: The tour starts every Monday and the tariff is $6,000 on single occupancy basis for a deluxe cabin.

For details and bookings: www.palaceonwheels.netImage 3rd

Deccan Odyssey

The Deccan Odyssey is perfect for a romantic experience of the country. Crawling through the striking landscapes of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharasthra, traversing the Western Ghats, this train is an exquisite blend of the traditional and the contemporary, presented through its vintage cabins, exotic cuisines, on-board facilities and off-board entertainment. With valet attendants to cater to all your needs, the fully air-conditioned train is equipped with all top-notch entertainment facilities in addition to a health spa car, a state of the art gymnasium and a well-stocked bar. There's internet available on the train, as well as business centres and facilities to enable international calling, to ensure any last-minute official obligations are taken care of too.

Travel and tariff: The t2 night/3 day package costs Rs 1,21,000 and the 7 night/8 day package is priced at Rs 6,61,500, for a presidential suite.

For details and bookings:

The Golden Chariot

Named after the famous stone chariot in Hampi, a world heritage site in Southern India, the Golden Chariot is more than just a luxury train. It maps its way through the backdrop of Southern India, visiting resplendent palaces and golden beaches. The wagons are a great display of craftsmanship, featuring intricate carvings on the ceiling narrating timeless tales. The Golden Chariot experience is fashioned on the life of Mysore maharajas. Get a drink at Madira, the bar there, or visit Nala or Ruchi, the fine dining restaurants inside. Other coaches also house a gymnasium, a conference hall, massage rooms as well as all the latest amenities. The journey begins and ends at Bangalore and makes its way through Mysore, visiting the Mysore Palace, the Nagarhole National Park in Kabini, continuing to the historical sites of Shravanabelagola, Belur — the 11th century cradle of Hoysala architecture and a world heritage site; Halebidu, Hampi and, finally, the triangular heritage site of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole, before it heads to the beaches of Goa.

Travel and tariff: The 7 night/8 day journey begins every Monday from Bangalore. The cost for one person is Rs 1,84,800.

For details and bookings: www.thegoldenchariot.orgImage 4th

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels

The Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is a rekindled version of the Palace on Wheels, crafted with modern standards offering a royal experience and a fresh perspective. The newly designed wagons feature magnificent interiors, delectable meals, exotic wines, and some personalised attention from the khidmatgars. The seven-day journey begins at Delhi and spans the erstwhile princely states of Rajasthan, besides Khajuraho and Varansi, cultural hubs of times past.

Travel and tariff: The 7 nigh/8 day commences from Delhi and is priced at $1,700 per person per night for a super deluxe cabin.

For details and bookings:

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