Golden Chariot train for Rs.50 lakh makeover

Karnataka’s luxury train, the Golden Chariot, which has been ranked among six best trains catering to tourism worldwide by Vanity Fair, a UK magazine, will soon have a new look. Having suffered wear and tear over the two years that it has been operating in the state, the train is being refurbished to give tourists no cause to complain about the luxurious interiors that they pay for as much as the journey. The train’s exterior design too is in for a change.

It’s operations have been called off until September 20 to allow the Karnataka State Development Corporation (KSTDC) and the railways to do everything possible to see that it lives up to its luxury tag.

“With the Golden Chariot having completed two successful years we thought it could do with a change of look and feel. We plan to overhaul the interiors of the train. From curtains to carpets everything will be changed,” says KSTDC managing director Vinay Luthra, adding that the corporation is working on the exterior design of the train as well and will soon come out with one.

The revamping of the train was timed to coincide with the off season, which begins with the onset of the monsoons. “We will not incur any loss as there are hardly any bookings this season,” Mr Luthra explains.

While the KSTDC is spending over Rs 50 lakh on the aesthetics of the train, the railways is funding the overhaul of its electrical system where necessary.

The Golden Chariot now runs on two routes. At the end of three weeks of travel in Karnataka, it journeys to Kerala and Tamil Nadu for a week opening up more options for tourists.

Thomas Cook to charter Deccan Odyssey

Beginning November 18, Thomas Cook India will launch “The Indian Maharaja” for foreign tourists covering the cities of Mumbai, Aurangabad, Udaipaur, Jaipur, Agra, Ranthambore and Delhi.The seven-night itinerary will attempt to show India in a snapshot with the core intention of promoting Brand India as an ideal tourist destination.

“The Luxury Trains are charterers of the Deccan Odeyssey while we are the exclusive sales and distribution partners. For us it is a fairly pioneering move. It’s the first time we have taken a risk on the inventory and to be operating rather than working as just pure agents,” Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, Executive Director–Travel Businesses, Rakshit Desai, told PTI here.

Thomas Cook India has a strategic alliance with The Luxury Trains, which in turn is party to contract with MTDC. “The train is about 75 per cent sold and has done better than we had planned. There is nothing left to sell for the months of January, February and the Easter (April) departures. We have got some capacity to sell in November-end and December,” Desai said.

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New-look Palace on Wheels from August

JAIPUR: Recession is passe, at least for the The Palace on Wheels.

After being launched in 1982, the luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ is headed for a refreshing change in decor, itinerary and cuisine for the first time.

And if you thought that after a lean tourist year, the luxury train would chug off with special offers for the upcoming season, then you are wrong.

As per the rescheduled itinerary, the train would be flagged of from Delhi on August 5 by Bina Kak, minister of tourism, Rajasthan, instead of the 27-year-old October schedule. Albeit, with an enhanced fare of US $ 100.

“This is the first time since its launch that the train’s schedule and itinerary have been changed. This was done keeping in mind the feedback received from our guests and surprisingly, we already have 40% confirmed bookings for the first run,” said Manjit Singh, CMD, Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation.

Over the last few months, the train has undergone an absolute overhaul in tapestry, furnishings and accessories. “To impart a totally fresh look, the train has been refurbished with all new tapestry, shears, bed spreads, carpets and table linen in the saloons as well as the two restaurants and the bar,” said Pradeep Bohra, chief manager, Palace on Wheels, who has been on board ever since 82.

Besides, that the train is now scheduled to leave Delhi at 1800 hrs instead of 1600 hrs and reach Jaipur about 0345 hrs. It will then depart for Sawai Madhopur instead of Jaisalmer at 23.30 hrs.

“The entire idea behind changing the schedule is to get our guests to experience Jaipur by night. With an entire day in Jaipur, the guests will get to shop, visit the Albert Hall, City Palace and have lunch at 1135 AD restaurant in Amber. A city tour will be followed by Bar-be-Que and dinner accompanied by cultural performances at the Jai Mahal Palace hotel before departing for the next destination,” said Manjit.

“Dining at 1135 AD in Amber Fort will be a historical experience punctuated with traditional folk and complemented with a spread of cuisine to complement the palate,” said Sanjeev Bali, deputy managing director, 1135 AD. Similarly, at The Jai Mahal Palace hotel, special cuisines, cultural performances along with special discount on liquor and soft beverages have been organized, according to Samrat Datta, GM, Jai Mahal.

The changed schedule also caters to the need of the tourists to get a wholesome experience of each destination. Now eight meals on board have been reduced to five and the maximum travel distance on the train not beyond 350-400 km.

Further down the journey, special events have been planned to get the guests to feel the real flavour of Rajasthan. “Now the dinner in Jaisalmer would be at Sam Sand dunes. There would be a visit to Kuldhara, the desert village in Jaisalmer. Other add-ons are a visit to Jogi Mahal, Ranthambore, breakfast at Shikar Bari, Udaipur, a hunting lodge of the Mewar ruler, breakfast at Bharatpur bird sanctuary and dinner at ITC Sheraton Agra besides a host of other programmes.

Indian Railways plan 4 luxury trains

New Delhi: Europe and America is reeling under a recession, but that hasn’t stopped the Indian railways from introducing four luxury train tours in January with an eye on the high-end foreign tourist.

Fall in the number of buyers at Delhi fashion week
The new train tours — two each for Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata — are along the lines of the palace-on-wheels, and was planned after a joint venture by railways and the travel company Cox and Kings. The tours will wind their leisurely way across the country for eight days and seven nights for a princely tariff of $1,000 a night. Stopovers will include such places as Gaya and Varanasi on the Kolkata route, and Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho on the Mumbai route.

Rakesh Tandon, the managing director of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), says he is not worried about recession. “We launched these projects because our surveysshowed us that there was a market for these services. Upper-end tourism is still not hit by recession, and we are hoping this will be a profitable venture,” he said. The tours have such evocative names as Celestial Journeys and Royal Line and the railways is going to run these on a 50-50 revenue-sharing model with Cox and Kings.

The Palace-on-Wheels, a pioneering effort of the railways in luxury tourism, started making a profit just a couple of years ago and its southern version, Deccan Queen, is still struggling to make a profit. These experiences have made the railways propose budget versions of these trains.

However, with railway minister Mamata Banerjee keen on appeasing the aam aadmi more than anything else, there’s a doubt whether the project will be given enough rope.

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Luxury train tourism fast picking up in India

JAIPUR: The much talked about “Royal Rajasthan on Wheels”, flagged
off from Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi on Sunday, is the
second luxury train launched in the desert State to attract the high-
end tourists and bring to them sheer opulence and comfort while
traversing through the heartland of erstwhile Maharajas.

The seven-day sojourn of the train – which arrived here on Monday –
will be a heady mix of Rajasthan’s pristine historic experience on
the royal journey showing the amazing architecture, fascinating
festivals and exquisite crafts. The regal train is comparable to the
best trains in the world such as the Orient Express of Europe and
the Blue Train of South Africa.

Flagging off the new train, Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said
the immense success of the country’s first luxury train, “Palace on
Wheels”, had spurred her Ministry, the Railways and the Rajasthan
Tourism Development Corporation to launch the Royal Rajasthan on
Wheels as a joint venture. “It is an incredibly beautiful tourism
product,” she affirmed. Ms. Soni said the luxury train tourism was
fast picking up in the country as evident from the success of the
Incredible India special train for visiting the Buddhist sites,
Golden Chariot and Deccan Odyssey. The coaches for the Northern
Splendour are being fabricated for running in Punjab. The Union
Minister said the first 1,000 tourists boarding the train should get
a special discount.