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The Palace On Wheels Holiday Package

Let us start by orienting you on this ecstatic journey, where the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation together with the Indian Railways launched the Palace-on-Wheels, by bringing out the luxurious coaches used by the erstwhile rulers of Rajputana, Gujarat and Hyderabad besides the British Viceroy, which had been lying unused since India’s independence. A new broad gauge Palace-on-Wheels was introduced, taking tourists in élan and comfort through the princely states of the Rajputs, in the desert heartland of Rajasthan. Embark on this luxury train journey through the `Palace -On -Wheels Holiday Package’ to Rajasthan as the Maharajahs did, by a private train. The journey begins in Delhi, and as you settle down to an appetising dinner, the Palace on Wheels, winds its way to the city of Jaipur. Surrounded by rugged hills, each crowned by a formidable fort, and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens, the Pink City of Jaipur is sure to delight. Next stop is the Ranthambore National Park, a sanctuary for tigers, deer, wild boar, gazelles, sloth bear, leopards and a plethora of birdlife. On safari we keep a keen eye out to spot a tiger lolling around in the sun. The train then continues into Udaipur, known as the City of Lakes, the most celebrated for the fairy tale marble palace that appears to rise from the waters of Lake Pichola. Journey into the heart of the Thar Desert to magical Jaisalmer and discover the mighty Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur. Finally arriving at the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra, this train journey will leave you with lasting memories of majestic forts and palaces, impeccable service and luxurious comfort.

Every care has been taken to ensure a pleasant journey while you travel by providing traditional Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine and special Rajasthani fare as also a bar-cum-lounge, a well-stocked library, and, doctor-on-call at the next station.  Do come on board the Palace-on-Wheels if you wish to visit the land of famous kings and queens as it is your chance to relive a royal past.

After a traditional Indian welcome in Delhi, the `Palace-on-Wheels’ rolls out on its stately journey from Delhi, for a week during August-April.  The train has fourteen saloons with four coupes each and attached modern toilets and showers.  Each saloon has a mini-pantry with a valet and attendant providing personalized service. Each part of the train exudes a rich ambience, with the dining cars and bar aesthetically furnished to match the royal saloons. The updated schedule may be reconfirmed prior to reserving the package! 

Upon arrival at Delhi airport, you would be met by a representative who will transfer you to your hotel. There are no activities planned for the rest of the day so you are free to explore this bustling capital city. India’s capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city, but certainly one of the most interesting. Delhi comprises of conspicuously contrasting Old and New Delhi. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India and one can find mosques, monuments and forts related to this Muslim history. New Delhi is the imperial city created as India’s capital by the British, intricately planned and comprises of imposing buildings displaying various modern styles of architecture. For those arriving early, explore some of the many attractions on your own, such as the  Janatar Mantar, wander the local markets, catch the metro anywhere, visit the Crafts Museum, Indira Gandhi Museum or Birla House or the site of Gandhi’s assassination or relax in the magical Lodi Gardens.

Undertake a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi visiting the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Raj Ghat. Designed by the builder of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, the Red Fort is famous for its delicate carvings in red sandstone and Royal Chambers. The Raj Ghat is the cremation ground of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Then transfer to the railway station in time to board the Palace on Wheels Luxury train and roll on to the `Palace- On -Wheels Holiday Package’.

Rated as one of the top ten luxury trains of the world, the this Tour is a peep into the mystic charm and history of the Rajput rulers, through several grand palaces and monuments built by them in centuries gone by, many of which stand proudly in all their glory even today.  The train’s interior matches the royal touch by naming the saloons after Rajasthan’s princely states, with each saloon bearing the coat-of-arms of the city it represents and fitting-out the décor of the dining cars to match the royal ambience of the richly-furnished saloons.

Begin the day with a guided city tour of Jaipur including a visit to the City Palace, now a museum that contains fine Rajput and Moghul paintings, rare manuscripts and an armoury, old carpets, and even amazingly embroidered clothes of the Maharajas and the Maharanis, and the Jantar Mantar, a Royal Observatory. Which is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments? In the afternoon discover the  Amber Fort, the honey coloured fortress-palace in the Aravalli Hills, where the sombre exterior belies the richness of the royal apartments, which open to striking views of the gorge. The Hall of Victory presents a galaxy of decorative art, panels of alabaster with fine inlay work of the tenderness hues and the intriguing Chamber of Mirrors. Tonight, dinner will be served on board the train ahead of its departure overnight to Sawai Madhopur.

Fine dining and choice of liquor is there to see you through the time spent on board the train, with halts being made at Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bharatpur.  At each step of your `Palace-on-Wheels’ tour, you will be guided to historic landmarks of Rajasthan,  stately monuments, magnificent palaces and splendid forts, besides elephant rides in Jaipur, camel rides in the sand-dunes of Jaisalmer, boating in Udaipur and rickshaw ride in Bharatpur, and, a trip to the Ranthambore Tiger sanctuary in Sawai Madhopur.

Arrive in Ranthambore at Sawai Madhopur, and early morning you can treat yourself to a jungle safari in the National Park. Of all places to view tigers in India, the best odds for sighting a tiger are in Ranthambore, with its tiger population of around. Other animals that you may spot whilst on safari include leopard, sloth bears, jackals, palm civets, crocodiles and a vast array of birdlife and reptiles. Must include a visit to the Ranthambore Fort and lakes. This wildlife sanctuary is pure magic with the ruins being smothered by roots, herons on lakes, a million myths about Raja Hamir and the glorious days of the impregnable fort. The National Park is a grand holiday destination hosting jungle jeep safaris for tiger spotting and its movement along the trails is strictly monitored to ensure the least interference to animal movement in the park. Layers of history become tangible here as you stroll through ancient ruins, nature and contemporary village life, even if it is for a day! Flora enthusiasts will also be impressed by the range of trees, shrubs and flowers that are found within the park. Enjoy lunch on board the train as you travel to Chittorgarh, followed by a tour of this romantic city, including the remains of the seventh century Fort. Travel overnight to Udaipur.

Awake in the enchanting city of Udaipur,  surrounded by the ancient Aravali Mountains and set on the edge of three lakes,  a brilliant kaleidoscope of narrow lanes flanked by bright stalls, gardens, lakes, palaces and temples. Undoubtedly the most romantic city in Rajasthan, and perhaps the whole of India, The city is centred around Lake Pichola and has inevitably been dubbed as  the ‘Venice of the East’. Visit the City Palace and the exquisite crystal gallery where every piece of furniture and even the carpet is adorned with crystals, a breathtaking sight and atmospherically picturesque, as the town boasts of lakes, lake palaces, mansions and gardens. The old city spreads in a maze of lanes, called the backyard, since it sits to the back of the City Palace, and is the centre of imagination of this Lake City, as palaces and hills embrace its contours, havelis, houses and hotels, finding sustenance in its waters. You can spend some time in the City Palace, which is a huge conglomeration of palaces as the whole structure has maintained a graceful uniformity,  sit by the lakeside, laze in a rooftop restaurant and watch palaces afloat on the lake, wander in the galis and  look at caparisoned elephants painted on houses.  The City Palace Museum is full of paintings of the Krishna deities of Mewa, and has a series of mahals and chowks displayed prominently as marked directions when you proceed to a world of luxury and indulgence within the entire complex. If possible, a Sound and Light Show is absolutely astounding! The Crystal Gallery is really an extravagant and profligate display of wealth, possessing even crystal chairs, beds, sofas, glasses, dinner sets and also a bejewelled

Carpet.  A launch ride on the Lake Pichola, if possible, would take you to the Jagmandir Palace Island, where you get a crisp view of the valley  and the surrounding hills making the boat trip more than worthwhile. Return to the train for an early evening departure on the `Palace- On ---Wheels Holiday Package’.

Arrive in the morning at Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert. The city is dominated by the Jaisalmer Fort, which unlike most edifices in India,  is a living fort with shops, hotels, age old havelis within its enclosures  and the magnificent wood and stone carved mansions and buildings displaying the adoration of the Rajputs towards the fine arts. The Raj Mahal, the Jain Temples, the Patwon ki Haveli complex are all exquisite architectural splendours, made of sandstone and adorned with elaborate facades, with the most skilful stonework done on the exteriors, displaying immaculate glory!  Journey out to the surrounding sand dunes for a camel ride before returning to Jaisalmer for a snack and entertainment.  Reboard the train and travel overnight to Jodhpur.

Arrive in Jodhpur and enjoy a tour of this ancient city. Visit Meharangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada and the Clock Tower. Meherangarh Fort is situated on a high hill, the most impressive fort in Rajasthan. It includes a complex of palaces and museums that reflect the rich cultural history of the region. The Mehangarh Fort Museum offers splendid architecture, high-quality artefacts,  well-lit displays,  delicately worked sandstone apartments, wonderful collection of palanquins and howdahs, murano glassware, gilded wood, Chinese tiles and murals, miniature paintings and an opulent mix-and-match  from different regions  and historical periods that cover a large space. From the upper ramparts of the fort, you will have views of the entire city The Umaid Bhawan Palace is a magnificent representative of the Indo-Saracenic  style of architecture , made of sandstone without using mortar and displaying royal artefacts such as crystals, clocks, crockery, memorabilia and whatever may have caught the royal fancy. It would be great to visit the Mandore Gardens which are known for the cenotaphs of the former rulers, built not as chhatris, but like temples.

Depart in the evening for Bharatpur with dinner on board. Breakfast precedes a tour of the World Heritage listed Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, including the Keoladeo Temple, the Mansarovar and Hansasg Sarovar marshes, swamps and lakes which form one of the most important heronries in the world. A vast variety of waterbirds may surprise you when you decide to click them, as their swirling flocks take off when disturbed!  There are waders and amid low bushes and woodlands look out for orange-headed ground-thrushes, rubythroats and sleeping nightjars.  Spot eagles and harriers feeding on the wildfowl, sometimes snatching each other’s prey in mid-air. You may come across the pied-crested cuckoo, demoiselle cranes, common cranes and sarus.

In case you are booked on the `Royal Rajasthan -on -Wheels’, then there would be an extension to Khajuraho and Varanasi, after Jaipur, before moving on to Agra, and back to Delhi.

The Royal Rajasthan-on-Wheels, another weekly luxury train, was introduced to serve the increasing multitude of visitors. This ‘No Smoking’ train will take you through Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur and Jaipur in Rajasthan, then branch off to Madhya Pradesh to the World Heritage Site of Khajuraho, and, finally Uttar Pradesh, to Varanasi, the famed ancient centre of learning and land of the Ganges and to Agra,  to see the spectacular Taj Mahal. 

The super deluxe saloons, named Diamond and Emerald, have exquisitely rich silk and velvet linen and drapes with a large bed, ottoman, sofa and a writing table to provide you all comfort.  The deluxe saloons have been named Ruby, Sapphire and Pearl and match the splendour as well as comfort of the super deluxe saloons. Besides a choice of mouth-watering fare including Indian, Continental and Chinese meals with emphasis on Rajasthani cuisine, and branded liquor, in two luxurious dining cars, the Royal Rajasthan-on-Wheels also has a luxurious spa service and gym on board!  Personalized valet service, modern amenities on the train, piped music, an excellent library, board games, a separate safe for keeping valuables secure, internet, Souvenirs on board and the largest glass windows to help you enjoy the scenery more will surely make your Royal Rajasthan-on-Wheels passage a memorable one!

The `Palace -on -Wheels Holiday Package’ moves on to Agra and Delhi, direct from Jaipur!

A brief synopsis of the add-on-values on the Royal Rajasthan -on -Wheels!

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a combination of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. The temples are famous for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism with the site located within the Vindhya mountain range in central India. An ancient cultural legend held that Hindu deity Shiva and other gods enjoyed visiting the dramatic hill formation in the Kalinjar area, the center of this region being Khajuraho, set in the midst of local hills and rivers embracing a complex that reflects the ancient Hindu tradition of building temples where Gods love to play. The art work symbolically highlights the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism, dharma, karma, artha and moksha.   

The village here hosts a magnificent complex of temples that deserve to be celebrated for their architecture, carvings and beauty, and makes them renowned for their sculpture of human beings amongst processions, musicians, dancers, ladies of the house, animals, the domestic, the social, the courtly…..with an air of being completely at home. They are made of sandstone, with a granite foundation that is almost concealed from view. The temples have several thousand statues and art works generously contoured with bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These thick apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles....besides the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins and guardian deities sprawled across the stone boundaries!  Of the surviving temples, six are dedicated to Shiva and his consorts, eight to Vishnu and his affinities, one to Ganesha, one to Sun God, and  three to Jain Tirthanks. The arts cover numerous aspects of human life and values considered important in the Hindu pantheon.

Arrive in Varanasi, the quintessential Indian holy city where millions of Hindus travel, for pilgrimage, Walk the narrow twisting alleys, poke around some of the literally hundreds of temples and shrines, and experience the energy of the dawn rituals of bathing and chantings as you float past the numerous ghats of the River Ganges. The legends, myths and aura surrounding Varanasi led Mark Twain to famously remark. "Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". Sitting on the banks of the River Ganges, you can contemplate what it means to be in this holy city, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, dating back thousands of years. The culture of Varanasi is deeply associated with the river Ganges, its reigning deity Lord Shiva and its religious importance. Or wander through the Old City with its maze of narrow alleyways full of small shops and stalls. If time permits, perhaps you could make a quick visit to the monasteries and ruins of nearby Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon. During your stay, you will have the opportunity to take a boat out onto the sacred Ganges River. Witness a candle flower ceremony. If you opt for an evening boat ride.

The final destination on the `Royal Rajasthan -on -Wheels’, as also on the `Palace- On- Wheels Holiday Package’!

Travel to Agra and visit the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal., built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal the beauty of the Taj Mahal is unmatched. On the death of his beloved wife, in wild extravagance, Shah Jahan built her this memorial. With workers who labored for several years. it is the romantic origin of the Taj as much as its architectural splendour that has led to its fame worldwide. Actually an integrated complex of many structures, the Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, itself a combination of Islamic, Hindu, Persian and Turkish elements. Initially, the walled palatial city of the Agra Fort  was built from red sandstone,  inlaid with white marble and intricate decorations, though during Shah Jahan’s reign, the Fort began changing into more of a royal estate and thence the site finally took on its current state of being refurbished with white marble, inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems, At the end of his life, it is said that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony inside the Fort, with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal. Time permitting, visit I’timad-ud-Daulah, also known as the ‘Baby Taj’ which was built before the Taj Mahal by Nur Jahan, queen of Jehangir, for her parents and was the first Mughal building to be faced with white marble and where ‘pietra dura’, precious stones inlaid into marble, was first used.  Later, dine onboard and depart for Delhi.

After the breakfast, you may alight at Delhi station to enjoy another round of city tour of New Delhi visiting Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb. New Delhi is the imperial city created as India’s capital by the British, intricately planned and comprising of imposing buildings displaying various modern styles of architecture.

Mentioned below is just an outline of the shopping, cuisine and clime that belong to the above areas, to facilitate you in locating your favourite product, when you go outdoors, on the `Palace- on -Wheels Holiday Package’!

Shopping:

Delhi has a fascinating array of goods from wholesale bangles to biryani, pearls to paper, golgappas to gold, motor parts to mithai, to be explored in the tinsel town of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. Rajiv Chowk, popularly called CP, the City’s Emporia and the ultimate open-air shopping arcade encompassing all the designer labels in clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery, art decos and food edibles. There are arenas in Delhi are abuzz with high-end malls, both open-air and indoors, showcasing designer labels, chic clothes, footwear, watches, jewellery, music, flowers, toys, cosmetics, imported fruits and vegetables, curios,  antique furniture and artefacts. The Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhavan houses stores run by NGOs that sell clothes, paper products, cane furniture and pottery.

Rajasthan has plenty of outlets and vendors all around, prominently displaying particularly attractive and colourful textiles with mirror work, to be used as bedspreads, hangings or duvet covers.  Carved stone pieces, turbans and ravanhattas (musical instruments) make for interesting souvenirs as also miniatures on paper, cloth and stone and camel leather goods like bags, jootis and sandals. There is an abundance of meenakari jewellery in silver, gold and diamonds and polki, thewa carvings and naqashi ornates on the precious metals, and the land is famous for pearls, precious and semi-precious gems.

Agra is well-known for handicrafts, but the local markets are chaotic while the big shops are expensive.  Marble inlay on tables, boxes, knick-knacks, even sofas, may be available for purchase. The city’s craftsmen are also famous for carpet weaving and there are good cotton durries too. Zardozi gold wire embroidery, usually on silk, is another speciality. There are plenty of handmade leather works such as bags, sandals, purses, shoes, belts, accessories, artefacts and curios in marble and sandstone, semi-precious stones with jewels, and wood and metal craft.

The most popular purchases in Khaju Raho would be murals and sculptures of different sizes including miniatures in stone, tribal artefacts in bell metal, wood, terracotta, paintings, jewellery and masks, and souvenirs of temple structures and carvings on posters and picture postcards and magnets!

In Banaras, the zari  and brocade fabrics in silk, cotton, georgette, and chiffons are famous and the most popular buys, including home linen and furnishings made of the same material, besides traditional brass artefacts,

Cuisine:

Delhi is  dotted from age-old eateries in the bylanes of the walled city such as restaurants and stalls clustered around Jama Masjid,  Karim’s,-an institution of lip-smacking dishes, Paranthewali Gal,i – feast of mouth-teasing paranthas,  to the glitzy, exclusive restaurants, malls and five star hotels ,serving a blend of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Continental, Mediterranean specialitiies. The Capital offers a whole range of sweet, patisserie and savoury, both Indian and International in some of the best pastry shops,  as well as the `desi’ snacks of samosas, bread pakoras, chaat papri, gol gappas, dahi bhalla, kheer, rasmalai, rasgullas and gulab jamuns to honour that palate with an authentic Indian taste!  

In Agra, the heat, crowds and noise usually does not discourage the tourists from trying the local eateries.  The Mughal’s buffet lunch is popular with tourist groups, while Clarks Shiraz offers decent food. Dasaprakash on Gwalior Road has idli-dosa-sambar combos and the famed Chiman near the Jama Masjid is known for its thalis. Capri in Hari Parbat serves good North Indian and Mughlai. For a decent variety, try Pinch of Spice at Wazirpura Road, favoured by backpackers.Take home angoori and kesar petha from Panchhi Petha in Sadar Bazaar and Hari Parbat or from Kedarnath Phool Chand Pethawala in Johri.

Most places in Rajasthan are completely equipped to offer North Indian, Continental, Chinese, Thai, Gujarati and of course Rajasthani dal-bhaatti-choorma, gatte ki subzi, ker sangria and lahsun mirch ki chutney. There is plenty of fast food fare, such as soups, pastas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, burgers,cakes, pastries, pies, puddings, ice creams, sundaes, delicious Indian snacks such as samosas, pani puri, aloo chaat papri, phirni, gulab  jamuns, kheer,  in desi ghee and minimal oil for all tastes, lined up throughout the desert land to entice the palate of Indian and International tourists!

In Khaju Raho, there is a Raja Café that offers great pancakes besides views of the temple complex from its terraced roof. There is a Shivam Restaurant serving sumptuous Gujarati thalis with a number of eateries spread around the western group. The Mediterraneo Restaurant is the favourite for a glass of chilled beer and some Italian food. Ofcourse your guest house or hotels could provide you with a variety of meals, even customized to your choice, if required!

Banaras is lined with,delicious food eateries all over the town serving a blend of Indian, Continental and Mediterranean multi-cuisine besides Indian traditional fare such as  sweet gol gappas, paalak papdi chaat, dahi bhalla, samosas, gulab jamuns, rasgullas and mithai.

Climate:

Suitable for this most enigmatic and magical- paradise journey on the `Royal Rajasthan-On-Wheels and the `Palace- On- Wheels Holiday Package’, as per schedule designed and confirmed!


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