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The Holiday Train

The Holiday Train
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First Published: Fri, May 04 2007. 01 25 AM IST
Updated: Fri, May 04 2007. 01 25 AM IST
Exotic need not necessarily mean expensive every time. If you are planning a holiday, but need to economize, try the Indian Railways’ summer packages this year. From unusual options such as chartering a steam train in Darjeeling or Shimla to a week-long package tour to the picturesque south of India, rail journeys in India have never been better.
You can also take your family to that pilgrimage to Shirdi or Vaishno Devi you had been postponing all these years. And if you believe in travelling in style, just dig into your pockets a little deeper and experience Raj-style treatment aboard the luxurious Palace on Wheels or the Deccan Odyssey.
Tailored to suit the average Indian, these economical packages cater to all the needs of the passengers: from transfers to accommodation to sightseeing trips with experienced guides. Says Dilip Roy, a tourism consultant with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC): “Usually, we get offers for chartering trains from travel agents who have a steady flow of international tourists. But these days, even domestic tourists are showing keen interest in going on these trips.”
SPIRITUAL HIGHS
Vaishno Devi
Duration: 3 days/2 nights
Tour itinerary: Covers New Delhi, Jammu, Katra and Banganga. The train, Jammu Rajdhani Express, starts from New Delhi railway station on Fridays at 9.05pm
Cost: Rs3,950 for AC-2 tier with AC stay (Rs2,200 for children)
Package includes: On-board and off-board catering, transport, yatra slip, accommodation in a four-star hotel on twin-sharing basis, sightseeing
Contact: IRCTC, (011-23701174, 23701145-47) email: tourticket@irctc.co.in
Shirdi
Duration: 3 days/5 nights
Tour itinerary: The train, Ajanta Express, leaves Secunderabad on Thursdays at 5.45pm and covers Shirdi, Ajanta and Ellora. It returns to Secunderabad on Monday
Cost: Rs5,000 for AC-2 tier (Rs3,100 for children); Rs4,300 for AC-3 tier (Rs2,700 for children); Rs3,500 for AC-3 tier with non-AC stay (Rs2,400 for children); and Rs2,300 for sleeper with non-AC stay
Contact: IRCTC, (040- 27702401, 27702407, 27702408, 6201263); fax: 040-66201264
Buddhist Trail
Duration: 8 days/7 nights
Tour itinerary: The train, Maha Parinirvan Special, leaves Delhi’s Safdarjung station at 8pm and covers Lumbini, Sarnath, Bodhgaya and Kushinagar. Contact IRCTC for departure dates
Cost: Between April and September, Rs2,050 for AC-1 tier, Rs4,018 for AC-2 tier and Rs3,280 for AC-3 tier
Contact: IRCTC, (011- 23701174, 23701145-47); email: tourticket@irctc.co.in
TRAVEL IN STYLE
Deccan Odyssey
Tour itinerary: Covers Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Sindhu Durg, Goa, Kolhapur, Pune, Daulatabad, Aurangabad and Nashik.
Package includes: Facilities aboard the lavishly decorated train include channel music, intercom, CD/MP3 player, wall-to-wall carpeting, money exchange/credit cards facility, safety and security arrangements, spa, bar, conference equipment
Cost: $395 (Rs16,195) for single occupancy for one night, $295 (Rs12,095) for double occupancy for one night and $240 (Rs9,840) for triple occupancy. The presidential suite costs $750 (Rs30,750) for single occupancy per night and $550 (Rs22,550) for triple occupancy per night
Contact: IRCTC, (011- 23311263/64); fax: 23311259
Palace on Wheels
Tour itinerary: Covers Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur and Agra
Package includes: Designed to suit modern needs with central air conditioning, the luxury train offers four channel music, intercom, a separate pantry and lounge in each coach, comfortable coupes with attached toilets with shower facility, two special restaurants—Maharaja and Maharani—serving exotic Indian, continental and Rajasthani cuisine, a well-stocked bar, a reading coach and round-the-clock attendants
Cost: $395 (Rs16,195) for single occupancy for one night, $295 (Rs12,095) for double and $240 (Rs9,840) for triple occupancy
Contact: IRCTC, (011- 23311263/64); fax: 23311259
SOUTHERN COMFORTS
Ernakulam-Munnar-Kumarakom
Duration: 4 nights/5 days
Tour itinerary: Departure every Thursday from Bangalore
Cost: Rs7,750 for budget, Rs10,600 for standard and Rs14,700 for deluxe tickets. The KTDC-IRCTC luxury class costs Rs13,000
Package includes: All transfers, overnight stays, sightseeing in Kochi, Munnar and boat rides in Kumarakom
Contact: 09891348365 (Delhi), 9867573815 (Mumbai), 9830143034 (Kolkata), 9840 001666 (Chennai) and 9446579474 (Kochi); email: tourismsouth@irctc.com
Thiruvananthapuram-Kovalam-Madurai-Kodaikanal-Thekkady-Munnar-Ernakulam
Duration: 7 nights/8 days
Tour itinerary: Daily departures from Mumbai and Delhi
Package includes: All meals, transfers, overnight stays, sightseeing visits in Kovalam, Madurai, Kodaikanal, Kodai, Thekkady and Munnar
Cost: Rs12,500 for budget, Rs18,300 for standard, Rs24,000 for deluxe and Rs23,000 for KTDC-IRCTC luxury class from Mumbai; Rs13,250 for budget, Rs19,000 for standard, Rs24,750 for deluxe and Rs23,600 for KTDC-IRCTC luxury class from Delhi
Contact: 9891348365 (Delhi), 9867573815 (Mumbai), 9830143034 (Kolkata), 9840001666 (Chennai); email tourismsouth@irctc.com
Chennai-Mamallapuram-Puducherry-Tanjore-Trichy-Kodaikanal-Madurai-Rameshwaram-Kanyakumari
Duration: 7 nights/8 days
Tour itinerary: Departure every Thursday from Howrah
Package includes: Overnight stays, sightseeing in Chennai, Puducherry, Auroville, Kodaikanal, Madurai and Kanyakumari
Cost: Rs16,850 for budget
Contact: 9891348365 (Delhi), 9867573815 (Mumbai), 9830143034 (Kolkata), 9840001666 (Chennai) and 9446579474 (Kochi); email: tourismsouth@irctc.com
LUXURY FOR HIRE
Darjeeling Himalayan Railways
Route: From New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling, the 83km-long route is an engineering feat and has been accorded World Heritage Site status
Cost: Ranges from Rs26,000 for a single trip (up to four charters) for steam trains and Rs32,000 for a single trip (up to four charters) for diesel trains
Contact: IRCTC, (033- 22439045/22318244); fax: 033- 22439046); e-mail: sakarim60@irctc.com
Kalka-Shimla Himalayan Railways
Route: Popularly called Toy Trains, the seven coaches can accommodate 200 passengers. The 700 horsepower train can go up to a speed of 25-30km per hour.
Cost: Rs35,000 for a single trip in steam traction (Rs70,000 for round trip) and Rs40,000 for a single trip on diesel traction (Rs80,000 for round trip)
Contact: IRCTC, (011- 23701174, 23701145-47); email: tourticket@irctc.com
Neral-Matheran Hill Railway
Route: The 2ft narrow gauge train covers the 20km distance over large swathes of forest territory connecting Neral to Matheran in the Western Ghats
Cost: Rs27,500 for a single trip on diesel traction and Rs55,000 for a round trip
Contact: 022-22618062/63/64 extn 115
(Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com)
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First Published: Fri, May 04 2007. 01 25 AM IST
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