5 luxurious train rides that capture India’s beauty
Wes Anderson’s movie The Darjeeling Limited has left an impeccable impression on us due to India’s breathtaking beauty that the director has vividly captured. If you ever wondered if you could experience trailing India on a train like that, then this article is for you. Thanks to the country’s very own luxury train- The Deccan Odyssey, your ‘accidentally Wes Anderson’ aspirations can become a reality. And you can do it in utmost style; with its provision of two restaurants, a bar, business center, sauna, and more, the Deccan Odyssey is a 5-star hotel on wheels!
Though embarking on different tours around India, each train journey offered on the Deccan Odyssey starts in Mumbai. Depending on the package chosen, one can expect to initiate their week-long adventure by visiting sites such as the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the iconic Gateway of India monument, the Gandhi-focused Mani Bhavan Museum, the Prince of Wales Museum, the Jain Temple and more. So which ride do you ultimately choose? Well, why not comb through the following options and let us know which end destination rivets your heart the most! Brought to you in partnership with Fayyaz Travels, these train rides are a unique and authentic way to witness India’s array of majestic views, rich cultures, and historical legacies for yourself.
1. The Hidden Treasures of Gujarat
A ride towards Gujarat starts with a tour of the beautiful Vadodara, where the story of this city began. Here, you can explore the Champaner Pavagadh Archeological Park, which supports Gujarat’s spiritual diversity through its fusion of Hindu and Islamic designs. You can also bask in the rich history of the Laxmi Vilas Palace, once home of Gujarat’s original royal family, the Gaekwads. There, you also get to visit the adjacent Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, which houses the collection of artworks owned by Maharaja Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad III.
Of course, this is not even halfway through your adventure on Deccan Odyssey! The ultimate prize is your eventual exploration of the old cities of Palitana; the sacred pilgrimage site for Jains, followed by Sasan Gir, where you can contemplate on the existence of the Asiatic lion breed at the Sasan Gir Forest Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. These unique stops are then followed by visitations to the saline planes of Little Rann of Kutch for more unique wildlife spotting and birdwatching; Modhera to bask in Gujarat’s ancient works and forms of art; Patan to enjoy Gujarat’s 11th-century subterranean architecture; and eventually Nashik, to testify Gujarat’s answer to a wine capital and cruise along the Godavari Ghats, or holy river of Godavari.
2. Jewels of the Deccan
The Jewels of the Deccan package is for those with their hearts set on Bijapur, also known as Vijayapura. Upon your arrival at Bijapur, expect to be awed by its wondrous history at the Gol Gumbaz mausoleum and the Bara Kaman mausoleums where memories of Bijapur’s 17th-century ruler Muhammad Adil Shah are respected. There is also the beautiful architecture of Jami Masjid at Bijapur Fort to look forward to, and more. You would later be transported to Aihol, where you get to visit the ancient Hindu and Jain temples of Pattadakal and monuments at the neighbouring Hampi.
Of course, your journey is not complete without a special tour around Hyderabad, where you get to immerse yourself in the nuances of the local Nizami culture as well as bid your respects at Golconda, a fort that had once served the Qutb Shahi dynasty in the 17th century. Your week-long adventure will only come to a close with a tour of the Ellora Caves in Aurangabad (where Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist artworks from as far back as 600 CE are displayed), and the Ajanta Caves in Pachora (where natural monuments dating from the 2nd century BCE sit still).
3. Indian Sojourn
The main focus of the Indian Sojourn package is ultimately to explore the majestic Rajasthan cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur as well as Old and New Delhi. However, all great journeys on train tracks begin elsewhere first. Much like with the ‘Hidden Treasures of Gujarat’ package, this particular package starts with a tour of the ancient Vadodara, whose history is inevitably enmeshed with the roots of Rajasthan.
After that, the Deccan Odyssey will then take you to Udaipur where you will get to vividly explore the City Palace (which was built by rulers of the Mewar dynasty and achieved completion in the 16th century), cruise over the still waters of Lake Pichola on a boat, and even walk around Udaipur’s Old City (where romantic old architecture meets the charming bustles of bazaar life). Then, upon arrival at Jodhpur, you are taken to witness the breathtaking beauty of the Thar Desert, before trawling through eco-friendly arts and crafts work at Bishnoi Village, shopping at Old Clock Tower Market, and paying your tribute to the rulers of the past Rajput era at the Mehrangarh Fort.
Once Jodphur is covered, a later tour of the Ranthambore National Park at the city of Sawai Madhopur is to be expected. This is then followed by the highly crucial Agra Tour, where you can bask in the opulence of the seven Agra wonders built in ode of the Mughal rulers past, including the iconic Taj Mahal Palace (built by order from Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz), the Itmad-ud-Daulah Mausoleum (where the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah rests), the Agra Fort, and the Diwan-e-Am Fort. After, your train will take you to Jaipur so you can feast your eyes on the beauties of the Amber Fort, Maota Lake, and the iconic red and pink sandstones of Hawa Mahal (also known as Palace of Winds).
Your Indian Sojourn journey will draw to a close with combined sightseeing of New and Old Delhi fitting for a king. With it, you get to cover sites such as the Old City of Shahjahanabad (found by Shah Jahan), the Agrasen ki Baoli (built by the legendary King Agrasen), as well as the Rashtrapati Bhawan (which houses the President of India and serves as the Parliament House).
4. Maharashtra Splendor
While it is initiated in Mumbai, Maharashtra Splendour journey truly jumpstarts at Nashik, where you can expect to explore The Godavari Ghats and the Grover Zampa vineyards. After, the Deccan Odyssey will stop at Aurangabad and Pachora respectively so you can visit the Ellora Caves and the Ajanta Caves for some spiritual insight over the span of two days. Once your cave expeditions are said and done, you are then transported to Kolhapur, where a tour of the octagonally shaped, built-from-basalt New Palace Museum is a must. This is followed by a visit to the neo-gothic pillars of the Town Hall Museum, the 1300-year-old Mahalakshmi Temple, and local markets. Here, you can shop for Kolhapuri souvenirs, drink tea, and enjoy the local folk performance called ‘Lavanya Sandhya’.
The magic does not end there, for the Deccan Odyssey will then take you to the Portugal-influenced Goa! Here, you will get to explore firsthand its Fontainhas district in Panjim (dubbed the city’s very own Latin quarter). Not forgotten is Goa’s capital city Ribandar, where a walk through ancient churches all the way to the St. Augustine Tower is a given. Once all is said and done here, you are transported to the Sahakari Spice Plantation in Ponda, where you get to re-enact history by indulging in the traditional Goan feast of fruits and seafood washed with ‘feni’ (a liquid made from cashew nuts).
Following Goa is a stop at Sindhudurg, where checking out Pinguli Village for a glimpse of the Thakar folk arts, and Sawantwadi Palace for some delicious local lunch is a must. Your train journey will only end in Mumbai, where you can opt to revisit local sites.
5. Maharashtra Wild Trail
Those of you with a penchant for adrenalin rush will appreciate Deccan Odyssey’s Maharashtra Wild Trail package, in which India’s rockier terrains and sites take center stage. After leaving Mumbai, your train will depart for Aurangabad. Upon arrival, you will explore the Ellora Caves before taking things slower at the Kailash Temple (located in the heart of the Ellora Caves), the Daulatabad Fort (a 14th-century relic that is signature of Daulatabad’s militant history), the Old City districts of Maharashtra (where the “old” meets “new”), and Bibi-ka-Maqbara (also known as Taj of the Deccan for its resemblance to the Dakkhani Taj). Once your Aurangabad tours conclude, you will then make your way to Tadoba, where you get to see for yourself the lives of mighty tigers at Tadoba Tiger Resort’s very own safari. It is only after a consequent visit to the Ajanta Caves in Pachora would your adventure then take for a slower pace at Nashik, where The Godavari Ghats and Grover Zampa vineyard await you.
Each packaged adventure is yours at SGD 5695 per shared (double) cabin, SGD 7940 per single cabin, and SGD 17 195 for the Presidential Suite.