The Palace on Wheels journey is truly incredible luxury tour that stays in my memories forever. Journeying through seven vibrant cities including the famous Golden Triangle Circuit and going through a wildlife safari, riding on high animals such as camel and elephant and seeing some ancient palaces and forts that showcase the culture and rich heritage of India in one of the best itineraries.
This week long tour starts with a warm and friendly welcome ceremony at the embarking point and afterwards the first look of the carriages that carried once royal kings and queens centuries back and later the foreign dignitaries. One of the World’s Best Luxury Train tours got a PATWA award under “Best Tourist Trains of the Year” has some luxurious coaches to live in for the week long journey (7 Nights / 8 Days).
However, luxury makes you imagine a 5-star hotel ambiance but these carriages are more royalty themed with ancient portraits of rulers, furniture and décor that match the colonial times, staff in traditional attire like shiny turbans, etc. It is such kind of royal interiors within the Palace on Wheels coaches.
The best part is that there is no planning itineraries or planned trips, researching places, booking accommodations or worrying about the traveling from place to place in a new country! All that is required after booking the fee is getting to the embarking point along with the documents required and comfortable clothing and no more hassles. There is no waiting in line, as there is a PIN number you need to provide so no time is wasted in paperwork, etc.
The first day just goes in getting accustomed to the things and people around. I felt completely rested in the air conditioned cabin, was a rescue from the hot sun. The shower is like steam hot water and the availability is like I can take a shower anytime I return from the day trip or at bedtime. They took great care and gave lots of attention to make every passenger on the luxury train feel special.
Although some travelers had issues with sleeping due to the train’s chugging sounds, I had a comfortable sleep on the cushioned bed with fluffy regal styled furnishings. The next day was intense sightseeing and I had a sound sleep.
I couldn’t wait for the first day of sightseeing to start. This was the first off-board colorful and joyful welcome after which we went to see the top attractions of Jaipur – Hawa Mahal, known for the intricate work, and saw centuries old antiques inside the Albert Hall Museum. After reaching the top of the massive Amber fort on the back of the elephant, the fort walls and unbelievable size was awe-inspiring and left me speechless. It took time to admire all this.
A traditional lunch was served at a historical boutique restaurant called 1135 AD. The evening shopping time was good to collect souvenirs at tourist shops, but would be better to shop at the street markets for a memorable shopping experience at India. The sightseeing included the City Palace tour, a brief time at Jantar Mantar, and an exterior view of Hawa Mahal where we clicked pictures.
The third day started with the wake-up call very early from the attendant who also served hot beverage of fresh coffee brewed. Our group left by 6 am to the wildlife jeep safari Ranthambore National Park. The early morning fresh air and nature was such a much needed break. We could spot a female tiger in the distance, then there were deer and colorful birds.
A healthy breakfast was served on the train after the wildlife tour. There was time to relax on-board the train before lunch. I relaxed in the Health Spa Car & Sitting Lounge car which has flower patters with ancient styled ambiance. This is perfect for relaxation with lots of board games, and magazines. The internet is offered free but at certain regions there was very slow or even no 3G. The Ayurveda Spa was full so I decided to do the treadmill for a while to stay fit. There is even a stationed exercise bicycle at the Spa and fitness corner.
Keep in mind that the itinerary is fast paced and sightseeing is in a group meaning you have to be fit and keep up with the group mostly. Traveling is in A/C Coaches with a guide to accompany and help when needed. So if there is an issue such as need for snacks, water, or toilet, then they can make arrangements.
We saw the massive Chittorgarh Fort and stayed for the Sounds and Lights show which was a learning experience of the rich history of brave rulers. The next day we had a ride in the tuk-tuk through bylanes and I saw the sight of the Lake Pichola was mesmerizing. Unfortunately, that day I had to de-tour due to some personal issues. My tour was cut shot and I had to fortify the remaining tour. However, the memories will stay forever, and hopefully I’ll go back for a complete tour again.