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Luxury Trains in India

India is a country which has been a center of attraction on the global tourism map for generations because of the wide range of delight it offers all its esteemed guests. Be it the vintage classic feel offered for aficionados or the much recent contemporary touch offered to the yuppies, the journey within India is an altogether mesmerizing and has a mystical feel due to the richness and touch of class in everything that it boasts of.

Guests arriving from any foreign soil are in total awe of the opulence that some of the tourist sectors offer within the country. One of these is the multi-dimensional magic of the real India which is presented by the second largest railway system in the world – Indian Railways. The Indian railways has a total track length of almost 65K kilometers connecting 7000 stations and offering around 16000 trains every day for passengers treading the Indian turf.

Indian Railways has a series of luxury trains which offer an excellent way to explore the country without having to compromise on comfort and providing spectacular amenities, thus taking you through the gorgeous locations with a pinch of heritage clubbed together with extravagance in your sojourn.

The top five luxury trains that we will sneak a peek at are: Maharajas' Express, Palace on Wheels, The Golden Chariot, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, and the Deccan Odyssey.

Let's begin our sortie….

Maharajas' Express
As the name suggests Maharajas' Express is opulence personified. This luxury train recently baptized in 2010 is owned by the IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation) and offers itineraries, each of which either originate or finish at Delhi and include a visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra. This train provides an opportunity to explore the fabled destinations each offering a glimpse of the rich and regal cultural heritage of Incredible and mystical India. The Maharajas' Express connects you through the royal palaces, forts, rich natural bounty, untamed wildlife and much more to be cherished as memories for a lifetime.

The Maharajas' Express is India's newest and most expensive luxury tourist train. It's also the first luxury train in India to ferry across the entire country. It offers five different themed tours, with each visiting different parts of India. The major emphasis is however on Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Indeed a lifetime experience, a journey on Maharajas' Express brings one closer to the bygone era of Imperial India. Recently Maharajas' Express, was bestowed the "World's Leading Luxury Train" award at the World Travel Awards for two consecutive years in 2012 & 2013. Maharajas' Express is considered to be India's answer to the Orient Express of the West.

The Maharajas' Express has in all 23 coaches, with four distinct configurations. There are five deluxe carriages, six junior suite carriages, two suite carriages, and one presidential suite exclusively in one carriage. The train also has two fine dining restaurants, one bar, and an observation lounge with its own bar, game tables and comfortable club.

The destinations covered by The Maharajas' Express are: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Balasinor.

The Palace on Wheels
The next on cards is The Palace on Wheels which is the senior most in the league and offers historic charm coupled with modern amenities and features. Truly Inspired by the personal carriages used by the former Maharajas, Nizams and Viceroys, the Palace on Wheels journey is one of the most authentic and undiluted way to explore and rediscover royal Rajasthan for the discerning traveler. The Palace on Wheels is the oldest and most popular of India's luxury trains. It's been operating since 1982 and is rated one of the ten best luxurious train journeys in the world. A trip on this train is like taking a step back in time as you meander through Rajasthan. The union of former Rajputana princedoms, Rajasthan is renowned for its royal past; Ruled by the valiant Rajput princes renowned for their chivalry, romance and decadence who also were custodians of art, Rajasthan is home to some of the most resplendent fortresses, spectacular palaces and havelis along with rich cultural heritage and diverse wildlife. The Palace on Wheels runs from September until the end of April each year. It stops during the very hot and monsoon months. The train has 14 carriages, all individually named after a city in the desert state of Rajasthan. Their interiors are authentic historic replicas of the coaches once owned by former kings of Rajasthan. In addition, the Palace on Wheels has two restaurants and a bar lounge area where guests can relax and enjoy the passing scenery. The train is decorated in rich traditional style, including draped curtains, hand crafted lights, and Rajasthani art.

The destinations covered by Palace on Wheels are: Delhi, Jaipur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra.

The Golden Chariot
A sole luxury train in South India, The Golden Chariot offers an insight into the abundant treasure permeating the archaeological wealth, trove for wildlife seekers and a cultural kaleidoscope esteemed guests. This train is an amalgamation of heritage, culture, and eco-tourism and beach life. All you need to do is just recline and relax, as the magnificent scenery unfolds its mysteries outside your window with opulence on the inside. The Golden Chariot is a fine balance between a glorious yesterday and on omnipresent tomorrow in a magical land.

Golden Chariot connects all the important tourist spots in the Indian states of Karnataka and Goa. It has derived its named from the Stone Chariot located in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi. All the 19 coaches on the train are dual colored in purple and gold, sporting a logo depicting a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion. The Golden Chariot flagged off on March 10, 2008 and operates on a weekly basis. This beauty is designed on the lines of the Palace on Wheels offering accommodation, spa treatments and dining. The train is operated by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and marketed by The Luxury Trains, whereas the Mapple Group handles hospitality services on the train.

The Golden Chariot offers accommodation in 44 cabins nestled in 11 coaches. These coaches are named after dynasties that ruled the region: Kadamba, Hoysala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahamani, Adil Shahi, Sangama, Satavahana, Yadukula and Vijayanagar. It has two restaurants, a lounge bar, gym and spa, and conference facilities. Other amenities include Wi-Fi connectivity, and satellite TV connection in all cabins. The destinations covered by The Golden Chariot are: Bangalore, Kabini Mysore, Belur, Hamti, Badami, Goa, Chennai, Mamalapuram, Puducherry, Tanjavur, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Trivandrum, Kovalam, Alleppey and Kochi.

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
The Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is a luxury tourist train run by Indian Railways. The design is based on the Palace on Wheels, and follows a similar route through Rajasthan connecting you through several significant tourist sites encompassing wildlife and heritage sites across Rajasthan. The active months for Royal Rajasthan on Wheels are from September until the end of April each year. The services are paused during the peak summer and monsoon months. This train was launched in January 2009 following the phenomenal success of the Palace on Wheels, which also travels through Rajasthan. Tourists from all across the world flock here to experience the royal feel travelling in this charismatic and truly majestic beauty on rails.

According to the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels has been designed with major emphasis laid on the active suggestions made by tourists over the years. The train has two super deluxe suites and 13 deluxe cabins. The 13 deluxe coaches have been named after the famous palaces of Rajasthan - Hawa Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Surya Mahal, Moti Mahal, Sukh Mahal, Jal Mahal, Padmini Mahal, Kishori Mahal, Phool Mahal, Jogi Mahal, Kumbha Palace, and Umaid Palace. The train offers two restaurant lounges, spa, and wireless internet. The interiors are stunning and mesmerizing.

The destinations covered by the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels are: Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Agra.

Deccan Odyssey
Another luxury train purely aimed towards boosting tourism on the Konkani belt of Indian railways is The Deccan Odyssey. This luxurious train travels through some of the best sights of Maharashtra, and also visits Goa. During the journey, you'll be treated to a combination of alluring beaches, history, forts, and architecture. It is a joint venture of the Maharashtra Government and Ministry of Railways, Government of India. The Deccan Odyssey aspires to be a complete 5-star hotel on wheels, with two restaurants and a bar, a sauna, business center and other amenities on board. The active months for Deccan Odyssey are from September until the end of April each year, as its services take a break during peak summers and monsoons.

The Deccan Odyssey is designed to reflect the ways of Indian royalty and is most elaborate in its design and decor. The interiors of each of its carriages have drawn inspiration from the famous forts of the Deccan Plateau and truly amalgamated with the popular tourist destinations connected by this Deccan beauty. There are 21 coaches in all, 13 of which are dedicated to passenger accommodations. The balance eight coaches are dedicated to house a spa, a gymnasium, a business hub, fine dining restaurants, and a bar. The destinations covered by the Deccan Odyssey are: Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa, Belgaum, Kolhapur, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Ajanta, Ellora and maney others.

The time has arrived to enjoy the hospitality aboard any of these luxury trains, each of which unfolds before you a mysterious and a mystical chronicle…