The Golden Chariot train is the only luxury train in South India. It gets its name from the Stone Chariot in historic Hampi, one of the many places it visits as it winds its way through the state of Karnataka. You'll travel through the night to different locations and have the day to explore them. The train is owned by the Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation, and operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. It started in early 2008, making it one of the newer additions to the collection of luxury trains in India. Its logo is made up of a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion.
After being suspended for more than two years while undergoing a makeover, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Golden Chariot is scheduled to recommence running in January 2021. Bookings are now open.
The train's refurbishment added several new features including improved suspension, newly upholstered furniture, curtains, renovated rooms and bathrooms, crockery and cutlery, fresh linen, smart TVs with subscriptions to streaming sites such as Netflix, and new eclectic global and local menus.
There are 11 themed purple and gold passenger carriages with a total of 44 air-conditioned guest cabins (four in each carriage), and an attendant for every cabin. The guest cabins are a mix of 13 double bed cabins, 30 twin bed cabins, and one cabin for differently-abled people.
Each carriage has been named after a dynasty that ruled Karnataka -- Kadamba, Hoysala, Rastrakota, Ganga, Chalukya, Bhahamani, Adhilshahi, Sangama, Shathavashna, Yudukula and Vijayanagar.
The train also has two specialty restaurants (Ruchi and Nalapaka), a lounge bar (Madira), business facilities, gym, and wellness spa offering massage therapies. One of the highlights is the performances by local artists in the train's lounge bar, the interior of which has been designed as a replica of the Mysore Palace.
Routes and Departures
The Golden Chariot has three routes and itineraries, each departing early Sunday morning from Yeshwantpur Railway Station in Bangalore.
- Six-Night Jewels of South (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala): Bangalore–Mysore–Hampi–Mahabalipuram–Thanjavur and Chettinad–Kochi–Kumarakom–Bangalore.
- Six-Night Pride of Karnataka (Karnataka and Goa): Bangalore–Bandipur National Park–Mysore–Halebidu–Chikamgaluru–Hampi–Badami–Goa (including Old Goa's churches and museum)–Bangalore.
- Three-Night Glimpses of Karnataka: Bangalore–Bandipur National Park–Mysore– Hampi–Bangalore.
The train will complete four trips on each route before taking a break at the end of March for the summer and monsoon seasons. It will recommence in early October 2021. The departure dates are as follows.
- Jewels of South: January 10 and 31, 2021. February 21 and March 21, 2021.
- Pride of Karnataka: January 3 and 24, 2021. February 14 and March 14, 2021.
- Glimpses of Karnataka: January 17, 2021. February 7 and 28, 2021. March 28, 2021.
Rates include accommodation, meals, alcohol (house brands of Indian wines, beer and spirits only), tea and coffee, mineral water, butler service, porter service at railway stations, sightseeing tours, entrance and camera fees for monuments, and cultural entertainment. Service charges, laundry, spa, and business facilities are extra.
There are different rates for foreigners and Indians. Rates are per person and are based on twin share, with a supplement payable for singles. The rates are currently as follows.
- Jewels of South: $4,200 per person for foreigners. 320,130 rupees per person for Indians.
- Pride of Karnataka: $4,200 per person for foreigners. 320,130 rupees per person for Indians.
- Glimpses of Karnataka: $2,400 per person for foreigners. 182,930 rupees per person for Indians.
Several special offers are available.
- Indian citizens (not including OCI and NRI) who book online can pay 59,999 rupees for two nights on either the Jewel of South or Pride of Karnataka routes. 5% GST is extra.
- Indian citizens (not including OCI and NRI) who book online can get a 35% discount on the full tariff for all routes.
- Guests of all nationalities who pay the full tariff for one adult twin sharing can get 50% off the tariff for the second adult in the same cabin.
Should You Travel on the Train?
It's an excellent way to see south India in comfort, without any hassles. The route closely connects to culture, history, and wildlife, with the itinerary including stops at national parks and ancient temples. Excursions are well-organized. And, alcohol is now included in the tariff (it used to be charged separately and was costly). The main drawback is the fact that the train stations are not always near the destinations. Although it is a luxury train, there's no formal dress code.
More Information and Bookings
You can find out more information and make a booking for travel on the Golden Chariot website. Travel agents also make bookings. A brochure is available for download here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.