Alok K Singh
Indian railways have always fired the interest of travelers, writers, photographers, actors, directors, and many more. Travelers experience these train journeys for fun, writers do it to share their experience with their readers, photographers do it for aesthetic shots, actors and directors shoot movies while using it as a backdrop. The experience of India’s long-distance luxurious train journeys is undeniably romantic. They take in some of the best sights that our beautiful country has to offer, from palaces in Rajasthan to tigers in Madhya Pradesh. With a number of real-life itineraries around India, these trains operate like lavish cruises on wheels, parking stations for travelers to disembark and explore the mesmerizing surroundings by coach.
Generally people prefer to travel by air to save time. But, if someone is looking for an unmatched experience then they can choose to travel by the exquisite luxury on wheels that serves royalty on the go. With 5-star hospitality, wi-fi enabled suites with attached bathrooms, business centers, spa, bars and restaurants, the Indian railways provide some most enchanting and culturally rich, royal experiences to the travelers. Here’s a list of top luxury trains in India that take you to amazing destinations and let you explore the grandeur, royalty and magnificence of the country.
Palace on Wheels
Launched in 1982, Palace on Wheels is the first in the list of luxury trains in India. It initially started catering to the rulers of the Rajputana, Gujarat, British Viceroy and Nizams of Hyderabad with luxury amenities and dining options in a royal affair. It still covers the most popular route around the Golden Triangle, including halts at Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. This finest luxury train is known for its royal hospitality and high-end services. It comprises 23 coaches that go by the names of Rajputana states of pre-Independence time. It was launched by Indian Railways to promote Rajasthan Tourism. It had an overhaul in 2017, after that it got larger cabins for guests, wall-to-wall carpeting and plush duvets. Over 7 nights, travelers can pace the frescoed, follow Royal Bengal Tigers in Ranthambore, gaze at mirrored halls of Rajasthan’s palaces, and a camel ride into the Thar Desert.
The Maharajas’ Express was the winner of the World’s Leading Luxury Train at the World Travel Awards from 2012 to 2018. Then it went on to bag the Asia’s Leading Luxury Train awards from 2020 to 2022. It features mirror mosaic ceilings, gold-rimmed dinner plates, raw-silk upholstery, and four categories of cabin and suite. There is the finest dining place with 42 passengers seating, along with Safari Bar, Mayur Mahal and Rang Mahal. It’s a symbol of Indian heritage that offers 7 pan-Indian panoramic itineraries which includes a 6 night round trip departing Delhi for Jaipur, a fascinating drive through Ranthambore National Park, and Fatehpur Sikri. Then, there is a dawn visit to the bewitching Taj mahal in Agra, followed by a day spent exploring the quiet town of Orccha, and then erotic temples of Khajuraho before a final day in Varanasi.
In Deccan Odyssey one can experience the opulence of luxury travel with state-of-the-art amenities. With its sophisticated decor and high-class service, one gets to experience a perfect blend of hospitality and luxury. The grandeur of the Maratha Kingdom during this trip is definitely a jaw-dropping experience. A red carpet rolls out on the platform at Mumbai’s CSMT station and personal butlers are appointed to onboard the passengers. 2 presidential suites, 40 air-conditioned deluxe cabins, beauty parlor, spa, bar, gymnasium, conference space, internet, personal butler services are the features of Deccan Odyssey.
The seven night Jewels of the Deccan tour will take you on a historical journey through India’s offbeat architectural marvels at Hampa and Badami. Ajanta and Ellora caves are also covered in this tour. There’s enough time for shopaholics to shop for pearl jewelry in Hyderabad’s Bazar. Couch potatoes can enjoy ayurvedic spa on-board the train if they don’t feel like going out.
This train is less flashy than other luxury trains, it attracts more domestic travelers than its siblings. With 19 purple and golden coaches, it covers more traditional routes and has a family vibe. The Jewels of South tour begins in Bangalore before going towards Mysore, Hampi, Mahabalipuran and Thanjavur, swinging diagonally down south India to Kerala for a backwater cruise on Vembanad Lake.
This train is an initiative of Karnataka State Tourism Development, it comprises 11 guest coaches. It is equipped with luxurious train amenities that offer the best of elegance and pampering to the guests. Passengers can expect lip smacking delicacies in the pleasant ambience of Nala restaurant on-board. There is “Madira”, a lounge bar that offers exotic drinks to help you relax.
The Buddhist-circuit train
This train’s tour begins from Safdarjung Railway Station then it pulls up to the popular Buddhist Heritage sites across India and Nepal. One can get a chance to explore destinations such as Rajgir-Nalanda, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Varanasi. This awesome Buddhist Circuit Train FAM is organised by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation as a part of the Union Government’s ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ Initiative.
This train is also known as Mahaparinirvan Express. It is not as luxe as other carriages, however, there are deluxe cabins, a mini-library, two multi-cuisine restaurants, a kitchen and a foot massager. While traveling in this train, the travelers will be able to get insights on the self-disciplined and celebrated life of Lord Buddha – his birth place (Lumbini), place where he gained enlightenment (Bodhgaya), place where Buddha delivered his first sermon (Varanasi & Sarnath), place where Budhdha attained nirvana (Kushinagar).
Alok K Singh is Co-Founder & CEO, Travomint