The Palace on Wheels is a luxury train in Rajasthan, India. Prior to independence, the native maharajas of India had their own fleet of luxury trains. After independence railway was nationalized and the private luxury trains were no longer in operation. In 1981–1982 the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Railways launched the Palace on Wheels, India's first post-independence luxury train.
The luxury train is fully air-conditioned and self sufficient, with Wi-Fi connection. The 14 coaches of this train are named after erstwhile Rajputana states, and accordingly are decorated with Rajasthani art and crafts work. The train consists of 39 Deluxe Cabins and 2 Super Deluxe Cabins and has a capacity of 82 passengers. Each cabin is provided with attached toilet, wall to wall carpet and all modern ammenities. Each of the cabins is provided with a personal attendant, called khidmatgar. Apart from the cabins, there are two dining cars, called Maharaja & Maharani. The train also comes in with two resto-bar lounges and an ayurvedic spa. The train tour provides overnight travel in royal luxury coaches complete with pre-arranged sightseeing along with food in up class restaurants.
High season rates
October–March is high session
- Delux cabin (single occupancy for 1 person). For Indians ₹ 5,23,600, for forigners US$ 7700
- Delux cabin (double occupancy for 2 person). For Indians ₹ 6,80,680, for forigners US$ 10,010
- Super delux cabin (for both single or double occupancy). For Indians ₹ 9,42,480, for forigners US$ 13,860
Low season rates
April–September is low session
- Delux cabin (single occupancy for 1 person). For Indians ₹ 4,28,400, for foreigners US$ 6300
- Delux cabin (double occupancy for 2 person). For Indians ₹ 5,23,600, for foreigners US$ 7700
- Super delux cabin (for both single or double occupancy). For Indians ₹ 7,06,860, for foreigners US$ 10,395
Palace on Wheels begins its journey every Wednesday and runs for an entire week leaving the guests back at Safdarjang Train Station, New Delhi, early in the morning. This luxury train is preferred the most by rich people desiring to enjoy travel in India, and thus bookings for the train are done months in advance. Tickets are available on a single, twin and triple sharing basis, and the prices thus differ. However the most convenient way of booking for Palace on Wheels is through agents or opting for online bookings. The train operates August–April.
The itinerary for Palace on Wheels includes sightseeing tours of these most fascinating cities, providing a preview of Indian culture and lifestyle.
Day 1 (Wednesday)
1 Delhi (Safdarjung Railway Station). Reporting at Safdarjung Railway Station, Delhi at 4:30PM. Traditional welcome with garlanding, tikka and turban. Briefing by personal attendant. Welcome drink. The train departs at 6:30PM m. Dinner and night stay on board.
Day 2 (Thursday)
2 Jaipur. Breakfast on board. A royal elephant welcome at Jaipur Railway Station. Morning section includes visit to St. Albert Museum, Pink City Palace and Jantar Mantar (observatory). Followed by a visit to Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort, which includes an elephant ride on the ramparts of the fort. Lunch is served at 1135 AD Boutique Restaurant, located in Fort premises. Post lunch is reserved for the exploration of the Amer Fort. The evening is spent in the vibrant markets of Jaipur. Return to the train at 6PM. Dinner is served on board.
Day 3 (Friday)
3 Ranthambhore National Park. Early morning reach Sawai Madhopur Railway Station and depart for Ranthambhore National Park. Breakfast at jungle lodge followed by jungle safari in 15-seater canters. The forest is home to tigers, panthers, sloth bears, pythons, marsh crocodiles, deer and numerous birds. Return back to Sawai Madhopur Railway Station, the train departs at 10 am, with lunch being served overboard.
4 Chittorgarh. At 4PM the train reaches Chittorgarh Railway station. Transfer to the Chittorgarh Fort. The fort constructed in 11th century CE is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Light and sound show at the fort in the evening. Transfer back to train and dinner on board. The train departs post mid night.
Day 4 (Saturday)
5 Udaipur. At 8AM, arrive in Udaipur, breakfast on board. Transfer to city palace and tour of city palace, followed by a boat ride on Pichola Lake around the Lake Palace. Lunch at Fatehprakash Palace Hotel. Post lunch offers free time for shopping followed by a visit to the Royal Gardens at Saheliyon Ki Bari. Return to train 3PM. Train departs for Jaisalmer, dinner on board.
Day 5 (Sunday)
6 Jaisalmer. Breakfast on train, 9:30AM proceed to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Jaisalmer Fort. There are great views of the town from atop the 15th century fort. Lunch at a 5-star hotel followed by more exploration. A short tea break back to the train followed by an excursion to Sam sand Dunes in Thar Desert for camel ride during sunset. Later enjoy Cultural Program & Dinner at 5-star hotel. Return to train by 10PM and depart.
Day 6 (Monday)
7 Jodhpur. Reach Jodhour at 8AM. Breakfast on board proceed to Mehrangarh Fort, located atop a rocky hill. Later visit the museum at Umaid Bhawan Palace, displaying personal artifacts of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Lunch at Hanwant Mahal Boutique Restaurant. Return to the train and depart at 3:30PM, dinner on board.
Day 7 (Tuesday)
8 Bharatpur Bird Sanactury. 6:30AM proceed to the UNESCO site of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary housing 375 species of both local & migratory birds. Enjoy a bird watching session on a cycle rickshaw ride. Return to train for breakfast. The train departs at 8:45AM.
9 Agra. Reach Agra at 10:30AM followed by a tour of Agra Fort. Lunch is served at ITC Mughal Hotel. Post lunch session includes the visit to the world famous Taj Mahal. Free time for shopping. Return to train dinner on board.
Day 8 (Wednesday)
The Palace on Wheels reaches Safdarjung Railway Station at Delhi at 5:30AM. Breakfast on board. Check out by 7:15AM.
In order to not miss your departure, you might want to play it safe and stay with your group. The streets can prove to be quite confusing.
The luxury coaches of Palace on Wheels reach its final junction at Safdarjung Train Station, New Delhi early in the morning. Later passengers are served morning meal in the train. Thereafter one can either opt for cool cabs, local taxis or even for a much cheaper auto rickshaw drive for commuting to Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi to catch the flight back home.