Monday, June 17 2019


Palace on Wheels

One of the top ten luxury trains in the world, Palace On Wheels promises unlimited luxury on board coupled with the opportunity to unveil Rajasthan’s regal splendour. Its imperial decor and service makes its expedition a truly royal one, as Priyanka Chakrabarti discovers.
The majestic Palace On Wheels stands with much elegance and grandiose at the Safdarjung railway station, New Delhi, as it welcomes the guests on board for a royal retreat of seven days. As guests – mostly foreigners, a few Indian – walk in, they are welcomed with bright orange marigold garlands and tilak while the strains of live shahnai fill the air melancholically, as if bidding goodbye to the passengers; tradition exemplified indeed!
This heritage tourist train has charmed Rajasthan Tourism and the Indian Railways since January 1982. The inspiration for this elite concept lies in the pompous milieu of coaches that were formerly meant to be the private rail boxes of the rulers of the princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India. After Independence, the Indian Railways refrained from using this train as a normal passenger train due to its traditionally rich interiors.
“Palace On Wheels has fourteen interconnected saloons (coaches), the décor of which replicates the aesthetics of royal states with its golden, blue and red lushes decorating the interiors. These saloons have been named after the fourteen states of Rajasthan: Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Sirohi, and Udaipur,” explains Pradeep Bohra, the general manager of Palace On Wheels.
The cabins have beds enveloped in white bedcovers, wooden walls, turquoise-blue satin curtains with rich golden embroidery, golden lamp shades, mirrors bordered with ethnic Rajasthani frames, peacock blue carpet and the floral artwork on the ceiling in hues of red, green and gold, which add to the majestic appeal of the concept. Guests are welcomed with lavish fruit baskets, kept neatly on the small round wooden table.
Each cabin has an attached shower with all the trappings of an imperial affair: white in ambience, light brownish wooden floors, white towels rolled neatly on sides, fresh flowers on one corner, and all the necessary bathing accessories at your 1. A view of the lavish restaurant 2. The well-equipped bar 3. The lounge outside the cabins 4. The spa offers a variety of treatments 5. The train’s exterior 2 3 4 1 5disposal – like the top five-star hotels.
The train also has a luxurious, well-appointed lounge, bar, two restaurants, a spa and a library. The décor of the lounge, restaurants and each saloon reflects the ethos of the state through carefully chosen furniture, handicrafts, paintings and furnishings. The bar offers an array of fine Indian wine and other Indian and international liquor. The lounge has an LCD television, well-equipped with leading dailies, newspapers and high-end luxury magazines that one can indulge in over a hot beverage of their choice.
The two beautifully done restaurants, ‘The Maharaja’ and ‘The Maharani’, serve continental, Chinese, Indian and Rajasthani delicacies. On special requests, seafood, Thai and Mexican cuisines are also offered to the travelling guests. The two restaurants can accommodate eighty people at a time. The food is prepared on the train itself under the supervision of five chefs and six utility persons.
The spa delivers Thai and Ayurvedic treatments and massages, wherein three therapists (two female and one male) take charge. The spa is brightly decorated with lemon yellow walls, a white comfortable resting area, neatly placed vibrant yellow towels and golden artwork on the walls and ceilings adding a fanciful touch.
Each saloon has a captain and one attendant or ‘khidmatgar’ who takes care of the travellers, much like a private butler. This luxury train functions from September to April every year and delivers a seven-night weekly tour. The train departs from Delhi every Wednesday evening, and covers Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and finally concludes at Agra.
The train has a total of fifty-four rooms and can accommodate over a hundred passengers at a time. The tariff per person per night varies from cabin to cabin; single occupancy costs USD 670; double occupancy costs USD 500 while triple occupancy costs USD 450 US per person. The best part about this trip is that bookings can be done five years ahead of the departure date. Now isn’t that royalty? Get set for a royal ride and some first-class memories for lifetime.
A view of the lavish restaurant
The well-equipped bar
  3.The lounge outside the cabins
4. The spa offers a variety of treatments
5. The train’s exterior

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