Air conditioned cabins, restaurants for dining, a well-stocked bar and treatment fit for royalty – sounds like another hotel? Pull back the curtains from the windows and you will see fields, sand dunes and villages whizz by! Welcome to Palace on Wheels, India’s first luxury tourist train. The Palace on Wheels started its journey on January 26, 1983. Voted the 4th luxurious train in the world, the Palace on Wheels is a fantastic way of exploring the historic state of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is the home to the valorous Rajputs, the warrior kings of India. Rich in history, the state abounds in forts and palaces bearing testimony to the grandeur of its past. The décor of the train resonates with the spirit of the era of bygone royalty. There are 14 luxurious cabins or saloons as they are called. Wall to wall carpeting, local handicrafts, paintings and furnishings adorn the interiors. Each coach is named after a former state of Rajasthan. The beautiful mirror work, upholstery, miniature paintings and antique decor in each saloon reflect the colours and images of the respective state.
This is a fascinating journey consisting of 7 nights and 8 days and comes with a price tag of $5600 per person for the journey. During the journey there are stops at chosen top destinations, in Western and North Western India. Together they weave a kaleidoscope of rich experiences revealing India in her multi-faceted hues. You can visit World Heritage sites, forts and palaces, and shop to your heart’s content at the colourful bazaars. If you are lucky, you can even get to see the famous Royal Bengal Tiger prowling in its natural habitat.
New Delhi (Day 1) – The trip is flagged off in New Delhi, India’s capital city. Board the train at the Safdarjung Railway Station, but not before you explore the charms of this city where history and modernity rub shoulders with ease. Take the guided tour to India Gate, Qutub Minar and other attractions. Once at the railway station, a traditional welcome awaits you, complete with a royal garland and turban. After a sumptuous dinner you can call it a day while the train moves on to its first destination – Jaipur.
Jaipur (Day 2) – Arrive at the Pink City and explore the city after breakfast on board. Marvel at the City Palace and the charming facade palace Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds). Relive history at the Amber Fort and proceed to the local bazaars for shopping. Choose from local handicrafts, souvenirs, antiques, gemstones or jewellery.
Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh (Day 3) – Here is your chance for some wildlife spotting (tiger, Sambar deer, hyena etc.) at one of India’s largest, the 392 sq. km. Ranthambore National Park. Breakfast is served at the jungle lodge. The train then proceeds to Chittorgarh. Enjoy a visit to the splendid Chittorgarh Fort and the light and sound show there.
Udaipur (Day 4) – The ‘City of Lakes’ will enchant you with its picturesque lakes and palaces. The lovely Jag Niwas Lake Palace is a dream in marble. The Jag Mandir is nestled on an island in the Lake Pichola here. After lunch at a heritage hotel visit the City Palace and the Crystal Gallery. The day ends on a magical note with a sunset boat ride on the Lake Pichola. On return to the train, evening tea and delicious dinner get served with royal grandeur.
Jaisalmer (Day 5) – Jaisalmer in all its historical glory in the heart of the Thar Desert awaits you next. Visit the World Heritage Site of Jaisalmer fort, the golden sandstone towers, beautifully latticed like Nathmalji ki Haveli (mansion), Patwon ki Haveli and Salim Singh ki Haveli. Shop for souvenirs at the local markets. The evening closes with an exotic camel ride at the sand dunes followed by dinner, bonfire and cultural shows under starry skies.
Jodhpur (Day 6) – Arrive in the morning at Rajasthan’s second largest city Jodhpur. Do not miss the imposing Mehrangarh Fort and the lovely Moti Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. This is followed by lunch at a palace hotel. Shop here for silverware, tie and dye clothing and the embroidered slippers.
Bharatpur/Agra (Day 7) – Spot egrets, Siberian cranes and hundreds of bird species and wildlife at the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Relax over breakfast at a jungle lodge before proceeding to Agra.
The name Agra conjures up the name of India’s most famous monument, the graceful and lovely Taj Mahal. Delight in the beauty of the Taj and other Agra attractions. After a light and sound show in the evening and dinner at a city hotel, it is time to return to the train. The journey ends in New Delhi after a hearty breakfast on board.
Each air conditioned deluxe saloon has four twin-bedded chambers with a mini bar, channel music, intercom, a lounge, hot and cold water, attached toilets and shower. Expect personalised service from the ever-attentive ‘khidmatgaar (personal attendant). The luggage is deposited at your saloon by the attendants and an arrival kit is also gifted to the guests. Mineral water is available throughout the journey. Essential toiletries, mineral water, daily newspapers and magazines are also provided.
Restaurants – There are two beautiful restaurants ‘The Maharaja’ (meaning the king) and ‘The Maharani’ (meaning the queen). Seated in twos or fours you can watch the scenery fly by as you dine on Continental, Chinese and Indian fare freshly cooked in the train kitchen. Do not miss the Rajasthani specialties. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and local flavour.
Bar – A well-stocked bar with the choicest selection of Indian and international brands is available.
Lounge – There is a charming lounge where you can relax, sip a drink and catch up with fellow passengers.
Indoor games – A selection of board games including chess, cards, puzzles, carom are available should you wish to beguile the hours playing.
Royal Spa – Wash away the tiredness of the day’s sightseeing and shopping at the Royal Spa. You can get rejuvenating massages and a variety of pampering treatments here.
Internet – Wi-Fi and laptops are available on board.
Events – Personal celebrations, meetings and conferences can be organised aboard the train.
Others – Arrival kit, on board mailbox, medical aid, security arrangements, souvenir shop etc. also form part of the entire experience.
The Palace on Wheels is a no-smoking train. In case you wish to smoke please contact your captain.
Voltage on train: 110/230 V
India has the fourth largest railroad network in the world. For those who want to connect with the heartbeat of India, a railway trip is the best way to do so. However, the regular rail journey may seem a bit daunting to the foreign tourist. A luxury train provides a great base from which to explore the country while enjoying a ready-made itinerary and royal treatments. The Palace on Wheels does just that!