Dream journey

Print edition : September 18, 2015

A restaurant in the luxury train. Photo: By Special Arrangement

IT is an exotic train fit for a king. Named after the Stone Chariot in the Vitthala Temple in Hampi, Bellary district, the Golden Chariot is perhaps the only luxury train in south India.

Depending on which of the two itineraries one wishes to chose, the train (14N/15D), run by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) since 2008, covers all the important tourist spots, including six World Heritage Sites and wildlife safaris, of peninsular India. The “Pride of the South” itinerary will take you from Bengaluru to Mysuru, Hassan, Hampi, Pattadakal, Goa and back to Bengaluru, while the “Southern Splendour” starts from Bengaluru and goes east to Chennai, and then south to Mamallapuram and Puducherry before heading south-west to Thanjavur, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Thiruvananthapuram (including Kovalam), Alappuzha and Kochi. The train has 11 purple-and-gold coloured passenger coaches, each named after the dynasties that ruled Karnataka—Kadamba, Hoysala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahmani, Adil Shahi, Sangama, Satavahana, Yudukula and Vijayanagara. The overseas traveller will have the flexible option of five entry and exit points (Bengaluru, Goa, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi).

The interiors of the train’s Madira Lounge are modelled on the Mysuru Palace, while its Ruchi and Nalapaka restaurants provide the aesthetics of Hampi and Halebeedu. The train has been rated by Vanity Fair as one of the top seven train journeys in the world,

Dr P.S. Harsha, Managing Director of the KSTDC, said the Golden Chariot “is a five-star hotel on the move. That is the level of comfort we give our tourists. They can explore the whole of south India hassle free, with a comfort that is unbelievable, security that is reliable and unobtrusive, and an experience that has elements of the wilderness, heritage, culture, history and, of course, the sun, sand, sea, and surf. One international newspaper termed the experience ‘One journey, Many dreams’.”

Ravi Sharma