Have some cash to splash? Tours on luxury trains in India are an excellent way to explore the country without having to compromise on comfort. These luxury trains, which offer every indulgence imaginable right down to customized cutlery, inject glamor and romance into seeing some of India's best tourist attractions.
The luxury trains generally run from September to April each year. You can expect to pay around $9,000 for two people, for seven nights (there are often discounted rates, especially for Indian citizens). It's definitely not cheap! All meals, tours, and entrance fees to monuments and cultural sites are included in the price though. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the regal experience. Travel at night and explore new destinations during the day! Here are the options.
The Palace on Wheels is the oldest and most iconic of India's luxury trains. It's been operating since 1982 and is rated as one of the best train journeys in the world. The train's seven-night itinerary includes some of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, as well as the Taj Mahal.
The Palace on Wheels received a makeover in 2017 using the carriages from the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, which ceased operating. These carriages are more spacious and luxurious than the train's previous ones, and they've been refurbished to recreate the feel of the Palace on Wheels. New facilities include a Royal Spa and modern amenities. The train's exterior has also been painted a cream color.
The old carriages of the Palace on Wheels were used to launch a more affordable Heritage Palace on Wheels luxury train in late December 2017. Unfortunately, the train failed to attract enough passengers though.
The Deccan Odyssey primarily covers Maharashtra, as well as popular destinations in neighboring states such as Goa, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. This luxury train has been operating since 2004 and offers six diverse seven-night itineraries, most of which depart from Mumbai. These are the Maharashtra Splendor (covers Ajanta Ellora caves, Nashik wineries, Kolhapur, Konkan Coast and Goa), the Indian Odyssey (departs from Delhi and travels through Agra, Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Vadodara, to the Ellora caves in Maharashtra), the Jewels of the Deccan (heads south to Hampi and Hyderabad), the Maharashtra Wild Trail (includes Pench and Tadoba national parks) , Hidden Treasures of Gujarat, and Indian Sojourn (similar to the Indian Odyssey but departs from Mumbai and ends in Delhi). Do note that the tours only operate on certain select dates each year.
The opulent Maharajas' Express was introduced by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation in 2010 as the only luxury train in India to travel across the whole country. It has consistently won the Leading Luxury Train of the World Award. There are five main tour circuits to choose from, with an emphasis on North India. Two are short three-night Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Ranthambore) tours and the other three are seven-night voyages. In addition, two Southern Sojourn tours have been introduced, focusing on South India. However, these only operate in September. The train is priced higher than other luxury trains, with rates starting from around $12,000 for two people, for seven nights.
The Golden Chariot is currently undergoing renovation and is expected to start running again in October 2019. The only luxury train to operate exclusively in south India, the Golden Chariot gets its name from the Stone Chariot in historic Hampi, one of the many places it visits in Karnataka. The train started running in early 2008 and offers two different seven-night itineraries, both of which depart from Bangalore. The Pride of South focuses on Karnataka and includes Mysore, Hampi, Badami and Pattadakkal, the temples at Belur and Halebid, Kabini and Nagarhole National Park, plus Goa. The Southern Splendor has an expanded route that encompasses Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, and Kerala.