Palace On Wheels: Worth every Dolllar!

by admin on October 26, 2012

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Palace On WheelsOctober 1883 saw the introduction of one of the most luxurious train services in the world, the Venice Simpleton Orient Express; from Paris, through the Alps, Budapest, and Bucharest and then onto Constantinople (Istanbul). Kings and queens; princes and princesses were the usual travelers and, the train had all luxuries like washbasins, soap, and all the excellent food and wine of those days.
In 1890, the Tsar Nicholas –II opened the Trans-Siberian Express, which made history as the longest train journey in the world, travelling 9289 kilometers from Moscow to Vladivostok in about 9 days, through the icy regions of Siberia.  But there was only a single track- viz. the train could travel only one way at a time! Enough of world rail history then.

Welcome back to India, with all the royal luxuries included, at Rajasthan. There are some super luxury class trains running here. The newer one being Rajasthan Royals on Wheels and the elder more famous Palace on Wheels, running since January 26, 1982. The latter is ranked as the 4th most luxurious train in the world!  Luxury of course that comes with a price tag. According to a news report appearing on indiatoday.in, the Rajasthan Tourism Department Corporation is planning a new service on both the trains as early as next year.  The Palace on Wheels can be booked for a wedding, with 100 odd guests, covering a seven day journey for a whopping Rs 2.5 crore! Isn’t that a wedding fit for royalty on wheels!

The Palace on Wheels has coaches that were originally the personal coaches built for the rulers of the erstwhile princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Viceroy of India. Post independence, when people found themselves antagonistic towards royalty, these coaches gathered dust for sometime till some railway people in the railway department thought about bringing back the regal to the fore.

The expressions of royalty are still found in these finely preserved coaches, but now subtlety touched with all the modern needs of today’s e-world.  By 1991, the Palace on Wheels was once again re-furbished to cater those who love travel by train, in royal class. Today, after having won many prestigious awards and accolades worldwide, it still boasts of 14 exclusive salons serviced by a kitchen car, two world class multi-cuisine restaurants called Maharaja and the Maharani, a well stocked bar, a lounge, and even a spa car!  A novel re-introduction is the ‘Khudmatgars’ or personal assistant for passenger guests.Luxury rooms in POW

The salons are named after the princely states of Rajasthan – Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Dholpur, Dungargarh,Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Sirohi and Udaipur, also the architecture and artistry is intrinsically matched to the state that it is named after.  In beginning part of the journey, the train was restricted to foreigners only!! Although we (proud Indians!) can use the train nowadays, the price tag is still quoted in dollars (why the railway people became indo-phobic for awhile, even after so long into independence is still a mystery, and maybe demand’s a railway’s probe?).The Palace on Wheels is also strangely abbreviated into POW (Divine retribution perhaps?) but has all the luxuries you never dreamt of as it opens its doors to travel, from September to August each year. Winter of course is a better time to travel, to avoid the heat. The first royal journey for this year has already been flagged off from Delhi with 54 tourists from world over traveling on it. The train, in its eight day round trip travels from New Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur, and Agra, and has a capacity of 108 passengers.

Since the Palace on Wheels will run till August next year, you can still book your ticket now, and travel like Royalty. Oh yes, following the tracks of the Palace on Wheels, a lot of new uber-luxury class trains have also come up that tours the west India and south India like: Treasures of India, Gems of India, Pride of the South, The Heritage of India, Splendor of the South, The Indian Splendor, The Deccan Odyssey, The Indian Panorama and The Indian Maharaja. So you have lot of choice. Besides luxury, the other thing common to these trains is the dollar price tag.

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