India’s Royal Fleet of Rail Carriages – The Maharajas’ Express
Luxury knows no limits as is rightly portrayed by the lavishness, style, power and grandeur of the super-rich and their cars, motorcycles, yachts and private airliners, and certainly no lengths as seen in the form of the most luxurious trains of the world.
Among these is a train that enjoys the “luxury” of being India’s most exotic. Called the Maharajas’ Express, what it offers is much more than just the average train journey. It takes you through India’s most exotic and colourful locations – the battle scarred forts, views of breathtaking beauty, and palaces of unparalleled grandeur, wild life parks and sanctuaries surrounded by barren mountains and some of the most amazing lakes and other water bodies. The Maharajas’ Express is not so much a journey but an experience of magical riches and splendid variety.
Flagged off in 2010, the Maharaja’s Express offers a clear insight into India’s rich heritage and culture, and some of nature’s finest beauty that can be seen in this country. The train, as it travels through the country, offers some of the most scenic landscapes and covers those amongst the most well-known tourist destinations like Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambhore, Agra, Mumbai etc. The combination of all the visual splendour and diverse traditions and culture along with the rich and mystical history of India comes together in five different journey plans laid forth by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The five travel options take the passengers through five different combinations of scenic beauty and cultural heritage and are called Heritage of India, Treasures of India, Gems of India, Indian Panorama and The Indian Splendor.
Orient Express of Europe
A statement in ultimate luxury, the Maharajas’ Express has been compared to the Orient Express of Europe. The royal ride features state of the art amenities like high speed internet, Plasma TVs, DVD and MP3 players, climate control individual to every room, electronic safes and gourmet dining in its fancy restaurants and lounge bars with some of the most exquisite collection of drinks and beverages in the world.
Run by the IRCTC, it is Asia’s most expensive train and was built after in-depth and extensive research on the world’s most luxurious trains that have been or are still a part of the worldwide rail network.
Enlisted in the 2011 list of World’s Top 25 Trains by The Society of International Railway Travelers and internationally acclaimed for its onboard accommodation and dining facilities, services and off-train excursion programmes, it is the only train in our country to feature a Presidential suite, that spreads out over an entire carriage, offering its guests a majestic experience exploring India.
Lavish saloons on the royal train draw their inspiration from those used by the Maharajas, Nizams and Colonial rulers of the bygone eras. Its vintage look is accentuated by the use of traditional artifacts in the train’s décor.
There are in total 14 carriages with 43 individual cabins that provide seating and sleeping capacity of 88 guests. 20 deluxe cabins, 18 junior suites, 4 deluxe suites and a massive presidential suite that offers seven star luxury complete with a separate sitting-cum-dining room, a master bedroom and bathroom with shower and bathtub/Jacuzzi in the toilet, together complete the interior structure of the Maharajas’ Express. The Maharajas’ Express Presidential Suite is the first such a rail carriage of its kind in the world that is being utilized for commercial purposes.
There are LCD televisions, eco-friendly toilets, direct dial phones, and a number of other top notch facilities inside the train.
Rang Mahal and Mayur Mahal restaurants
The train has two dining cars designed and built for the purpoe of full five dining service, each with the seating capacity of over forty guests in one go. There is also a state of the art kitchen car purpose-built to provide for a full gourmet team of chefs, cooks and hands and helping them dish out an endless variety of cuisines. The restaurants are named “Rang Mahal” and “Mayur Mahal”. As the name suggests, Mayur Mahal is covered in a décor of peacock feather theme. Restaurant menus include traditional Indian Cuisines and also offer Continental, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Lebanese and other International cuisines.
A full bar carriage called “Safari Bar” offers wines, liqueurs, spirits and beers with a mouth watering and seemingly endless variety of snacks and starters. There is also a lounge bar called the Rajah club that is equipped with a multilingual library, board games, and other inputs for a casual yet rich, lounge experience.
Ticket prices vary according to the journey package and the mode or class of travel, and range from $6,000 for a deluxe room, $9,000 and $13,000 for the Junior and regular suites respectively and a whopping $23,000 for the presidential suite.
In a nutshell, the Maharajas’ Express, is an experience fit for a king at a range of prices, some of which can actually be given second thoughts by some of the more privileged business class and political figures and mostly anyone who can afford to shell out the amount required for a ticket.