It is about serving luxury on a platter. After the successful run of the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan and the Deccan Odyssey in Maharashtra, Indian Railways will soon roll out two more luxury trains in Punjab and Karnataka. Complete with deluxe suites, modern conveniences such as health and business centres and multi-cuisine restaurants, the two new ‘palace on wheels’ promise the trademark old-world charm of their more famous predecessors.
Punjab Palace on Wheels: The 19-odd super-luxury coaches will have a gym, spa and a business centre. On its eight-day tour, it would touch Agra, the Pink City of Jaipur, the hill resort of Dharamshala and the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh. In addition, it would also make a stop at Patiala, the cultural capital of Punjab, that houses the famous Sheesh Mahal and Quila Mubarak. The train would then move to Amritsar, the spiritual capital of the state, which boasts of the Golden Temple, and Kapurthala, famous for the magnificent Jagjit Palace. From here, the train would leave Punjab for the Kangra Valley before the journey culminates at the Wagah border near Amritsar. Meant exclusively for tourists, the trip would cost $300 (Rs12,300) per day. There will be special platforms at the stations for the Palace on Wheels. The task of taking the tourists around the city would be outsourced to private players.
Karnataka Palace on Wheels: The train journey will span from the Arabian Sea to the lush green forests of the Western Ghats, famous for their coffee and spice plantations, to the boulder-strewn region of the Deccan Plateau. The eight-day luxurious package would include visits to Unesco World Heritage sites such as Hampi and Pattadakal, Mysore Palace, ruins of the Vijayanagar empire, Bangalore and the famed backwaters of Kerala. In Kerala, passengers would be treated to the state’s popular Ayurvedic massages and gain knowledge of the abundant wildlife of the state with a trip to Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Also on the itinerary is a visit to the coir factories and spice plantations in the area.
In addition, the recently launched Heritage on Wheels in Rajasthan has already become a big hit among passengers looking for a taste of the Raj. The train has 14 fully air-conditioned coaches, including a restaurant and a bar lounge, and will cover Jaipur, Shekhawati and Bikaner over four days.
The tariff, at Rs12,500 for single occupancy and Rs8,500 for double occupancy, includes meals, conducted sightseeing tours, entrance fees at monuments, parks and recreational rides in the three cities.