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For Rs 1 lakh a day, travel like a maharaja
Published on 5 Oct. 2009 11:17 PM IST
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This Maharaja, you can rest assured, will have no takeoff problems. At Rs 1 lakh per day, the Maharaja Express will criss-cross from Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Kolkata, rolling out a luxury tourism package en route. Billed as Asia’s costliest train yet, the trial run begins in December, with the first one set to be flagged off from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in January 2010. “This is the first time that Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation has ventured into the luxury sector. Our partner Cox and Kings is well experienced in this sector so we are banking on them,” said R Tandon, managing director, IRCTC. According to Times News Network, while the minimum tariff is being kept at $800 per person per day, the maximum tariff runs up to $2500. There are four categories of carriages in the train - presidential suite ($2500), suite ($1400), delux cabin ($900) and junior suite ($800). Talks are on with a premium hotel chain to manage the two restaurants (Haveli and Peacock) and a bar (Machan) on board. “The USP of this train, with its 7-star hotel ambience, lies in the fact that while other luxury trains cater to specific locations in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharastra, this is the first pan-Indian train that will take tourists across a mix of cultures and expose them to the finest of Indian culture,” said Tandon. The facilities include individual temperature control system and environment-friendly toilets - a first in a luxury train - along with live TV, internet, on-board screenings and direct dialling. With 23 AC coaches, the Maharaja Express will start its seven-day and six-night maiden journey, carrying 88 tourists to Delhi, covering Vadodara, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore and Agra on the way from VT station on January 9. The train will return to Mumbai from Delhi on January 17. The trip from the western metropolis to the national capital will be christened ``Princely India Journey’’, while the return journey will be called ``Royal India Tour’’. The bookings for the inaugural run from Delhi and Mumbai are overwhelming, a senior IRCTC official said. “The trial run of the train will be held in December,” he added. The Delhi-Kolkata route will cover Agra, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Bandhavgarh, Varanasi and Gaya. The Delhi-Kolkata route will be named ``Classical India Journey’’, while the return will be the ``Celestial India Tour’’. Tourists on both routes -- Kolkata and Mumbai -- may also have the opportunity to have a glimpse of tigers in the forest that lie on the route. While Ranthambore falls in the Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai route, Bandhavgarh National Park is on the Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi segment. ``The national animal has been a great hit among foreign tourists. We hope that these tours will help in its conservation,’’ said the IRCTC spokesperson. Sceptics, however, point out that not many such models except the Palace on Wheels have done well. ``We have given the on-board hospitality service to a leading hotel group so that five-star catering is maintained in the train,’’ he said. The train will be operational from October to March and the rest of the year it will be used for chartered service, said the official.

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