If you’ve heard or read about train travel in India, you probably know that travellers usually have to deal with overstuffed coaches, dirty washrooms, less-than-desirable food, and service staff that can do with some improvement. Incidentally, India also boasts of trains that take you back to the days of the country’s resplendent past, making you feel quite like royalty. India’s luxury trains leave little to no room for complaints. They provide lavishly comfortable sleeping quarters and the best in food and beverage. With personalized attention, you can be sure that you will leave wanting for more. What also helps is that you get to witness the many sights, sounds, and wonders that India has to offer along the way. Here, then, are India’s very own luxury trains.
Guide to India’s Luxury Trains
Palace on Wheels
The Palace on Wheels was India’s first luxury train, having begun operations in 1982. After a brief hiatus for renovations, it was reintroduced in 2009. According to Condé Nast Traveller’s, this train was the world’s fifth best in 2015. The Palace on Wheels does not run from May to August. Its eight-day journey covers around 1,850 miles. It starts from Delhi and covers Jaipur, Udaipur, Bharatpur, and Agra, before returning to Delhi again.
The Deccan Odyssey
The Deccan Odyssey was launched with the idea of promoting train tourism in Maharashtra. Its six different routes now take travellers through various parts of Maharashtra and its surrounding states. In 2016, it was adjudged the leading luxury train in Asia. The itineraries you get to choose from include:
- Maharashtra Wild Trail. Mumbai, Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Pench (Ramtek), Tadoba, Ajanta Caves, Nasik, Mumbai
- Maharashtra Splendour. Mumbai, Nasik, Ajanta Caves, Kolhapur, Goa, Sindhudurg, Mumbai
- Jewels of the Deccan. Mumbai, Bijapur, Aihole, Pattadakal, Hampi, Hyderabad, Ellora Caves, Mumbai
- Hidden Treasures of Gujarat. Mumbai, Vadodara, Palitana, Gir, Little Rann of Kutch, Modhera, Nasik, Mumbai
- Indian Sojourn. Mumbai, Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Agra, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Delhi
- Indian Odyssey. New Delhi, Sawai Madhopur, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Vadodara, Ellora Caves, Mumbai
The most expensive train on this list of India’s luxury trains, the Maharaja’s express lets you choose from five different itineraries. These trains run from October to April. Most of the destinations they cover are located in Rajasthan. This train has received the World’s Leading Luxury Train award accorded by the World Travel Awards six times, from 2012 to 2017. The itineraries on offer include:
- The Indian Splendour. Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Balasinor, Mumbai
- The Indian Panorama. Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Lucknow, Delhi
- The Heritage of India. Mumbai, Ajanta, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Delhi
- Treasures of India. Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Delhi
- Gems of India. Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Delhi
If you’re hoping to explore what South India has to offer, you might consider taking a trip onboard the Golden Chariot. This train runs on two routes, both giving you the chance to explore the region’s wildlife sanctuaries, beaches, temples, palaces, and more. In 2013, it was recognized as the leading luxury train in Asia. The circuits you get to choose from include:
Pride of South. Bangalore, Mysore, Kabini, Mysore, Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Old Goa, Goa, Bangalore
Southern Splendour. Bangalore, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Auroville, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Kovalam, Alleppey, Fort Kochi Town, Ernakulam, Bangalore
The other luxury trains that India has to offer include the Royal Orient Train, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, and the Fairy Queen Express. Of all these, the only one that does not come with sleeping quarters is the Fairy Queen Express, which runs on a two-day trip. Travellers spend the night at the Rajasthan Tourism Tourist Bungalow in Sariska.
No matter which of India’s luxury trains you select, you can rest assured that you will get to travel in great style. Not only will you get to experience the country’s’ vast expanse and its beauty, you will do so feeling like royalty. Give yourself and your loved ones a special treat, and look forward to an experience you’ll never forget.