India's Legendary Palace On Wheels
The other night over dinner with a few good friends of mine, I mentioned my desire to visit Rajasthan in India. One of the couples brought up their trip aboard the Palace on Wheels during a recent trip to India and how much they loved it. They raved about what an amazing trip it was and how they very much enjoyed the entire experience. The Palace on Wheels is a legendary luxury train, in India, that offers various sightseeing itineraries that range from 5 days to 2 weeks. Their trip was a week long odyssey through the heart of Rajasthan, visiting both lesser known and well known attractions including the Taj Mahal. While they stressed that the journey was not cheap, they spoke of a well stocked bar, amazing dining cars and very personalized service.
Starting in Delhi with a full day of sightseeing, travelers are then dropped off at Safdarjang train station where they embark on a journey through fascinating Rajasthan. The first stop of Palace on Wheels is Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, also known as the Pink City. The city is home to the Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, which is a remarkable five story building along the main street of the old city with semi-octagonal and delicate honeycombed sandstone windows. Eight kilometers away is the Amber Fort where rides on caparisoned elephants add to the experience. Upon arrival in Sawai Madhopur, travelers visit Ranthambore National Park, where the ruins of a 10th century fort are located. The park covers an area of 392 square kilometers and is home to tigers, hyena, jackal and 300 species of birds. The wildlife sanctuary is considered to be the country’s best for observing and photographing the activities of tigers.
The Palace on Wheels then visits Udaipur, the Lake City, to see the dream-like marble palaces of Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, which appear to rise from the blue waters of Lake Pichola. After stopping in Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert where a yellow sandstone fort towers over the city, it’s on to Jodhpur, the Sun City in Rajasthan. Known as the Blue City, due to its many blue-painted houses, Jodhpur is a city ringed by a high stone wall with seven gates and several bastions. This second largest city of Rajasthan is known for its rock-solid Mehrangarh Fort. Near the fort complex lies Jaswant Thada and a group of royal cenotaphs made of white marble. Before heading back to Delhi, the train stops in Bharatpur for a visit to the world famous bird sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, and then on to the absolutely stunning Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world.
The Palace on Wheels is very well maintained and sparkling clean. The 14 coaches are named after former Rajput states matching the aesthetics and interiors of the royal past. The train has two very good restaurants “The Maharaja” and “The Maharani” with a Rajasthani ambiance serving Indian and Rajasthani cuisines. For additional information visit the Palace on Wheels website.
IMAGE 2 VIA: SkilliShots on Flickr