Way before the motor car, Maharajahs loved trains. They installed their own royal thrones in opulent coaches, embellished them with ivory and gold, and commissioned detailed models for their own personal use – one of which chugged along the centre of the royal banqueting table on silver rails, carrying an essential consignment of liqueurs and cigars for guests to enjoy.
The Maharajas’ Express, due to arrive in January 2010, will be heralded as a major new departure in luxury trains and will be a landmark event in Indian tourism. So 21st Century, the new train will put other luxury trains into the sidings for sheer comfort, state-of-the-art facilities and personal space.
The train will feature 20 Deluxe Suites, 18 Junior Suites, 4 main suites and the one-carriage Grand Presidential Suite. Every cabin will have large panoramic windows, individual temperature controls, satellite surveillance, air cushioned suspension and other hi-tech facilities, including large LCD TV’s, DVD players and new generation, environmentally friendly washrooms. The Standard Deluxe Cabin is the world’s most spacious rail cabin in its category – 9’5” x 7’9” with a bathroom measuring 7’9” x 4’9”. There is a choice of twin or double beds. Junior Suites are 13’6” x 7’9”, Suites are 21’8” x 7’9”. Travelers get together in the lavishly appointed bar carriage, the Observation carriage with its own bar, games table and club armchairs, as well as two fine-dining restaurants, each seating 42 people.
Beyond the advanced technology and fit-for-royalty spec, the Maharajas’ Express will have a very significant impact on tourism, opening up spectacular parts of India that are very difficult for a luxury traveler to experience by plane, by car or by current train services. As the first Pan-India luxury train, it will cut across state borders to offer four very different and exciting itineraries that take travelers into the heart of another world.
The Maharajas’ Express will be operated by Royale Indian Rail Tours Ltd, a newly formed company created by Cox and Kings India Ltd and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd, a Public Sector enterprise under the Ministry of Railways.
The itineraries are not just about a journey – they encompass seeing some of the most beautiful parts of India whilst having unique experiences along the way. Lunch at the private residence of an erstwhile feudal family in Jambughoda and at the Maharaja of Bikaner’s private hunting lodge, a visit to Dera Amer – for an Exhibition Elephant Polo match, a boat trip on the holy Ganges to see the sunrise in Varanasi – this is just a sample of the type of distinctive experience en route that the train will offer.
Princely India (Mumbai – Delhi)
The 8 night, 7-day Princely India journey travels through the heart of ‘royal’ India from Mumbai through to Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, RanthamboreNational Park, the Taj Mahal in Agra and on to Delhi.
Classical India (Delhi – Kolkata)
This is a very different six-night experience, offering a journey into the heart of local India. Itself a groundbreaking journey that passes through places that are previously incredibly difficult to access without flying to and from Delhi to visit each place. This journey starts in Delhi, and travels through Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Bandhavgarh, Varanasi, Gaya and Kolkata.
Both itineraries can be taken in reverse. Included in the cost are a range of fantastic trips and events; visits to the main sites en route and all activities, including elephant polo and champagne breakfasts.
Prices start at $800 per person per day based on two sharing a Deluxe Cabin. A Junior Suite is $900, a main Suite is $1400 and the Presidential Suite is $2500. This includes accommodation, all meals and soft drinks, house brands of wine, beer and spirits, all sightseeing, with entrance fees, guides and all entertainment.