The Palace-on-Wheels, promoted by The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, The Indian Railways, the Tourism Department of Rajasthan and the Government of India, is a special heritage train that gives tourists a memorable experience of Rajasthan, possibly one of the most colourful and interesting states in India.
The state of Rajasthan, set in the midst of the great Western desert, was once a conglomeration of princely states ruled by Rajput warrior kings and valiant chieftains. Each ruler built his own forts and palaces and the state is dotted with the most dramatic fortresses and majestic palaces.
Hauled by a steam engine, the train started rolling from October 1982. The coaches of this unique train were originally the personal railway coaches of the erstwhile rulers of the princely states of Rajputana and Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India, used on bridal journeys, hunting parties and occasions of state visits. Though times have changed and India is now a democracy, the Palace-on-Wheels takes travelers into the heart of Rajasthan in the kind of royal style that only the Maharajas of yesteryear could have enjoyed. Capture the romance of old-fashioned rail travel as you marvel at the splendid architecture, shop at the colourful bazars, photograph the gaily bedecked camels, enjoy the finest performances of traditional music and dance, and mingle with the vibrant people of this fascinating sate.
The journey begins in Delhi. Travel is mostly at night, and each morning marks the arrival at a different destination. Breakfast on board is followed by a sightseening or shopping trip. Lunch is usually at a real palace (now a palace hotel), and dinner is back in the dining car.
The 8 days-7 nights journey through the bygone era of the erstwhile Maharajas takes you to:
. the Pink City of Jaipur
. the jewel of the desert - Jaisalmer
. the majestic stronghold of Jodhpur
. the wilderness of Ranthambhor National Park at Sawai Madhopur
. the divinely beautiful Chittaurgarh
. the picturesque lakes and lake palaces of Udaipur
. the Taj Mahal at Agra - one of the seven wonders of the world and a symbol of undying love
. the red stone city of Fatehpur Sikri
. the remarkable bird sanctuary at Bharatpur
The Palace-on-Wheels, a no-smoking train, has been rated as one of the ten most luxurious rail journeys in the world, bagging the PATA gold award in 1987. The train has received wide exposure in the media, having been covered by TV teams from the BBC, MTV, Zee TV, National Geographics, MDR of Germany and more.
In 1991, a new air-conditioned meter gauge Palace-on-Wheels, on the lines of the old heritage train, was launched. The 14 deluxe coaches of this train, originally custom-built for the Maharajas and Viceroys of India are named after former Rajput states (Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Sirohi, Udaipur). These mini-travelling palaces carry the emblem of the princely state they represent, and have interiors characteristic of those states.
Each coach has a mini pantry, and 4 luxurious twin-bedded cabins with channel music, wall-to-wall carpeting, intercom, attached toilet, running hot and cold water, shower, all toiletries, and very personalized service. Common facilities include 2 restaurants ("Maharaja" and "Maharani"), a well-stocked bar-cum-lounge, good selection of reading material, kitchen car, and 4 service cars.
Mineral water is available all through the journey, as is medical aid. A mail box and shopping catalog of typical Rajasthani items are available on board. Guests get a complimentary bottle of wine/beer, as well as a group photograph to take back as a souvenir.
For disabled persons, special assistance is available in the form of wheel chairs, creches and a special attendant for manual assistance.
In 1999, The Palace-on-Wheels was refurbished. Now, each lounge has been equipped with a colour television and a CD player. A satellite phone will soon be available.
Tourist Reception Centre
New Delhi (India) 110 011
Tel : 91-11-3381884 / 3383837 / 3386069
Fax : 91 - 11 - 33828 23
Rajasthan Tourism Development Corpn. Ltd.
Hotel Swagatam Campus
Near Railway Station
Jaipur (India) 302006
Phone : 91-141-203620 / 415777 / 203531 / 202586
Fax : 91 - 141 - 201045, 204065, 202898
Department of Tourism
Govt. of Rajasthan
Ph : 410591-92-93 PBX : 410595, 410596
Telefax : 410591