Sitting precariously on the roofs of trains may be an iconic image of travelling across India, but now the country is poised to make its mark in the luxury rail market with a new “Palace on Wheels”. Equipped with LCD TVs, panoramic windows and WiFi, the new Maharajas’ Express promises to make the journey from Kolkata to Delhi an experience fit for royalty.
Launched at the weekend, the train is the latest offering from Indian Railways aimed at tapping the luxury tourist market. It blends international-level comfort with tradition.
The journey from Kolkata to Delhi by Maharajas’ Express has been called Celestial India, and covers pilgrim and tourist centres like Gaya and Varanasi, the Bandhavgarh forests, Khajuraho, Agra and Gwalior before winding up in Delhi.
The train has five deluxe cabins, six junior suites, two suites and one grand presidential suite. The charges for the presidential suite are $2,500 per person per day.
Every cabin in the train has amenities including TVs, internet and telephones, as well as climate control.
“My best wishes are there with all the passengers who are the first to board the train from Kolkata. It’s a gift to those who want to savour royal India and can afford it,” Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee told a press briefing.
“The tourists can pay in dollars or Indian currency. It’s a new initiative by the Indian railways to boost tourism in our country,” she said.
Maharajas’ Express is owned by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and managed by a joint venture company, Royale India Rail Tours Ltd.