The Palace on Wheels, renowned as one of the world's top 10 luxurious trains, has recently commenced yet another voyage. Often likened to a palace on tracks, this train is not only a symbol of opulence but also one of the oldest entrepreneurial ventures undertaken by Indian Railways and the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, with the primary aim of promoting tourism in Rajasthan.
What is the Palace on Wheels?
The Palace on Wheels stands as India's pioneering luxury tourist train, brought to life through a collaborative effort between the Indian Railways and the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). Launched in the year 1982, it has since been rechristened as the Heritage Palace on Wheels. In August 2009, the train underwent a thorough renovation, unveiling a new decor, itinerary, and culinary experience.
The very concept of the Palace on Wheels is steeped in royalty, with its coaches originally intended to serve as the personal railway carriages for the erstwhile rulers of the princely states of Rajputana, Baroda, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and most notably, the Viceroy of British India.
The train's operations came to a temporary halt during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it triumphantly resumed its services in 2022, with the grand flag-off ceremony conducted by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at Gandhinagar Railway Station on October 8, 2022. On this occasion, the Chief Minister announced the addition of modern furnishings and enhanced amenities. The government's commitment to promoting tourism was evident, with ₹1,000 crore allocated in the 2022-23 budget. Prior to the pandemic-induced hiatus, the train ran uninterruptedly from 1982 to 2020.
Rajasthan Tourism Budget
In a significant move for tourism, the Rajasthan government announced a substantial infusion of ₹500 crore into the tourism development fund in 2023. This allocation elevates the total fund size to ₹1500 crore, intended for the promotion and development of infrastructure in the state.
Facilities on the Palace on Wheels
The train boasts a total of 14 coaches, designed to accommodate 82 tourists. Each coach is meticulously named after former Rajput states, paying homage to their aesthetic and royal heritage. Among these are Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Dholpur, Dungargarh, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Sirohi, and Udaipur. Inside, every coach features three luxurious cabins, referred to as chambers or saloons by the company, complete with Wi-Fi internet and other lavish amenities. The Palace on Wheels also offers two exquisite dining options - The Mahārāja and The Mahārāni, exuding a Rajasthani ambience and serving a delectable array of continental and Chinese cuisine. Additionally, the train offers a bar-cum-lounge, 14 saloons, and a spa. On-board services encompass postal, banking, and laundry facilities, ensuring a truly regal experience.
Route of the Palace on Wheels
Operating from September through April, the Palace on Wheels offers a captivating 7-night and 8-day itinerary. The journey begins in New Delhi (Day 1) and continues with stops in Jaipur (Day 2), Sawai Madhopur, and Chittaurgarh (Day 3), Udaipur (Day 4), Jaisalmer (Day 5), Jodhpur (Day 6), Bharatpur and Agra (Day 7), before concluding with a return to New Delhi (Day 8). This carefully curated route ensures travelers experience the rich tapestry of Rajasthan's culture, history, and heritage.
As the Palace on Wheels sets forth on another enchanting expedition, it remains an enduring testament to the grandeur of Indian hospitality and the allure of Rajasthan's resplendent heritage.
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