Fighting over bunk spaces, desperately trying to get a tatkal ticket, choking over the atrocious food being served from the pantry car – that’s the image that we Indians have of the trains running in India. Who would believe that these luxury trains in India can give all the Orient Expresses of the world a run for their money, when it comes to lavishness and extravagance. Packed with facilities of a 5-star hotel, these trains make you feel like royalty. They have magnificent bedrooms, comfortable spas and sometimes, even gyms.
1. Palace on Wheels
The India’s first pan-country super luxury train “Palace On Wheels” was started on January 26, India’s Republic Day, in 1982 then train service was refurbished and relaunched in August 2009 with a new looks and more luxury facilities. It was voted the 4th luxurious train in the world in 2010. Each saloon highlights the cultural ethos of the state, represented through the use of furniture, handicrafts, painting and furnishings. Delhi-based interior designer Monica Khanna did the interiors of the train.
The luxury journey starts at the capital state of New Delhi. Cruise across historic sites listed with UNESCO. Go to palaces and old monuments in Jaipur, Jaisalmar, Chittoudgarh, Chhattisgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur and Agra inlcuding the Amber Fort & Jaipur Palace. Visit the Umaid Bhavan, Megharnath Fort, Agra Fort and romantic Taj Mahal. Flow with the waters at the Udaipur Lake and see the calm blue Picchola Waters. Go through the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary. Ride a camel through the Sam Sand Dunes.
2. The Golden Chariot
The Golden Chariot is a luxury tourist train that connects the important tourist spots in the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala & Tamil Nadu as well as Pondicherry, depending on the selected itinerary. It is named after the Stone Chariot in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi. The 19 coaches on the train are coloured purple and gold, and sport the logo of a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion.
It’s 7 Nights / 8 Days colorful journey begins every Monday from Bangalore, Kabini, Mysore, Hassan, Hampi, Badami, Goa. The Golden Chariot offers accommodation in 44 cabins in 11 coaches that are named after dynasties that ruled the region: Kadamba, Hoysala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahamani, Adil Shahi, Sangama, Satavahana, Yadukula and Vijayanagar. It also has two restaurants, a lounge bar, and conference, gym and spa facilities.
3. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
As the name rightly suggests, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels takes you through the rich heritage of Rajasthan. Experience the Rajput culture of valour and hospitality, and travel through many stunning palaces and fortresses built in the Rajputana region. Upon boarding the train, you are greeted with a grand musical red-carpet welcome, and the warmth of hospitality that one expects from Rajasthani culture. The private cabins are no less than princely abodes, with tastefully decorated interiors, imagery from Rajputana history, all the modern facilities of a luxury hotel, and fine-dining experiences showcasing the most delectable gems from the region.
The train takes tourists on a 7-day/8-night tour through Rajasthan. The train starts from New Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station and has stops at Jodhpur, Udaipur and Chittaurgarh, Ranthambore National Park and Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Sarnath, Agra and back to Delhi.
4. Maharajas’ Express
The Maharajas’ Express is a luxury tourist train owned and operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. It runs on 5 circuits covering more than 12 destinations across North-West and Central India, mainly centered on Rajasthan between the months of October and April. The Maharajas’ Express was voted “The World’s Leading Luxury Train” five times in a row at The World Travel Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014,2015, 2016 and 2017. The princely train is built with the idea of exploring India’s heritage while on board a palace. The presidential suite on the train would give any premium five star hotel a run for its money, with private lounges, bedrooms, lavish washrooms and a plush dining area.
5. The Deccan Odyssey
The Deccan Odyssey is a special luxury train based on the model of Palace on Wheels to boost tourism on the Maharashtra route of the Indian Railways. It is a venture of the Maharashtra Government and the Ministry of Railways, Government of India. In addition to being a train that touches tourist spots, this aims to be a complete 5-star hotel on wheels, with two restaurants and a bar, a sauna, business center and other such amenities on board. The coaches fitted with special amenities were manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.
The train takes you across various routes starting from Mumbai and Delhi, covering some stunning cities and landmarks. Managed by the Taj Group of Hotels, this train is designed to reflect the lives of Maharajas in the 16th century. An initiative of Maharashtra Tourism, the Deccan Odyssey is the perfect amalgamation of transport and luxury. There is plenty to do aboard the train, from multi-cuisine restaurants serving food presented by expert chefs, to a spa for relaxing massages, along with many other state-of-the-art facilities.
6. The Fairy Queen
This Luxury train journey will take you back to the British Times. Get the best comforts and world class facilities on this train journey. This is a very short span as the journey lasts for a couple of days. However this is the best ever experience as you feel treated and made to feel special. So make the most of the ambience they have to offer on the Fairy Queen Luxury Train. It was completely over hauled in 1996 & resumed commercial operations in 1997 for 2 Days/1 Nights Tourist circuit from Delhi to Alwar with overnight stay in Sariska Tiger Reserve, as Fairy Queen train tour In 1998. It was Certified as the world’s oldest working locomotive by the Guinness Book of World Records.
7. The Royal Orient
The Royal Orient is an Indian luxury tourism train that runs between Gujarat and Rajasthan, covering important tourist locations in the two states. Modelled on the Palace on Wheels, India’s first luxury tourist train, the train offers tourists a taste of royal luxury while “showcasing the best of Indian culture and heritage”. There are 13 coaches in the train, named after erstwhile kingdoms of Rajputana. The coaches provide five-star hotel comforts to passengers. Cabins are furnished in a palatial style and have spacious baths attached. There are multi-cuisine restaurants that offer Rajasthani, Gujarati, Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine.
The Royal Orient starts from Delhi Cantonment railway station and has stops at Chittorgarh, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Junagarh, Veraval, Sasan gir, Mandvi, Palitana and Sarkhej. Some of the tourist spots covered are the Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi, Chittorgarh Fort and Rani Padmini’s Palace in Chittorgarh, Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Lake Palace in Udaipur, the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and the Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.