There is something rather romantic and magical about going on a rail journey. The feeling of nostalgia you get when you take life in the slow lane for a change and the journey itself becomes a part of the adventure.
Rail travel is still not a thing of the past, it’s just moved away from what it once was and become more of a tool for commuters to get from A to B.
However, you can still find the old charm, glamour and luxury along the railways in the form of luxury rail holidays.
This is what took me to my next destination, India, to unearth the charm of luxury rail travel and travel across Rajasthan on the Palace on Wheels, one of the many luxury train journeys you can find across India.
This blog post is all about my trip on board the Palace on Wheels which is an 8-day luxury rail journey around the popular Golden Triangle of Northern India, starting in New Delhi and travelling across Rajasthan to end the journey in Agra at the Taj Mahal.
Palace on Wheels route
These are the Palace on Wheels route stops: – New Delhi – Jaipur – Ranthambore National Park – Chittorgarh – Udaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Agra – New Delhi.
Let’s take a look around the Palace on Wheels
For the train enthusiasts and future travellers of the Palace on Wheels, this is an in-depth look around the train to show you what it looks like and a list of all the facilities and services you can find on board.
Palace on Wheels, interior
Let’s have a look around the Palace on Wheels, interior to give you an idea of what’s on offer inside the guest train carts.
I spent my journey in a carriage that had two single beds and shared the space with another passenger. From the above picture you can get an idea of what this room type looked like. I was sharing with a friend and we shared the room space and bathroom throughout the whole journey.
Each sharing room has a desk and wardrobe. The desk was large enough to place a laptop on it, and it has a night lamp. You can use the space under your bed to store your luggage bag.
By the bed was another table that you can use with a chest of drawers for storage. Two plugs can be found in the room, one by your bed and the other by the desk.
The room also had a built in radio that could be played in the bathroom and guest room. You also had a call button by your bed if you needed some help from your porter.
Each room compartment has its own private western style bathroom. Fresh towels are given each day and a selection of toiletries are on offer to use as you wish. I had a shower every morning and the hot water was plenty and frequent.
Each cart has its own lounge seating area with daily newspaper and Wi-Fi access. The Wi-Fi was 4G but the connection was not great in some locations, especially whilst the train was moving. It’s okay for light internet use such as checking emails, but I wouldn’t trust heavily on the connection due to the locations you will be visiting on the trip.
You also have access to a gym room on board with two workout machines and you can book a massage session on request for additional cost.
The dining compartment also has a lounge area by the bar so you can enjoy a drink and a selection of bar snacks before your meal or after your meal. Or if you would prefer to sit somewhere other than your room, this area is free to use throughout your journey.
The dining area is where you will be having your breakfast each morning. You will also be having either lunch or dinner in the dining compartment depending on the program (varies each day).
A unique set menu is put together each day for lunch or dinner, which contains a western style menu and a local Indian food choice. Typically your meal each day starts with a soup followed by a salad leading to the main course and ending with a dessert. It’s a silver service style menu that’s served to you in this dining cart area prepared by the kitchen staff each day.
Start your morning with a wake up call and tea
One of the highlights for sure was being able to request a wake up call and tea service each morning from your personal porter. What a great way to wake up on time each morning for a busy day ahead. Was just fantastic and the tea and biscuit selection were fantastic. I don’t think you can have a bad cup of tea in India.
Palace on Wheels dining cart
Breakfast is served each morning in the dining cart. Time varies each day due to the program, but around 07:00-08:00am each morning on average.
A selection of juice, tea and coffee is served with a selection of toast, pastries, cereals, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit, eggs how you like them, cooked to order and served to your choice.
You can even opt for a local Indian breakfast which must be made on request the day before if you wish an alternative to start your day. The tasty samosa is worth a try for sure.
The Palace on Wheels service is world class
I have to give a mention at this point about the top Palace on Wheels service which you will receive throughout your whole journey. They truly make you feel right at home once you’re on board.
Every step of the way they will take extra great care and attention to ensure your time in India goes well. Any issues you have throughout the trip they will be happy to assist you and make sure that everything goes smoothly.
On a number of occasions I noticed how the staff went above and beyond to ensure that everyone’s time on board the Palace on Wheels went well. It truly was a world class service.
Palace on Wheels cost
Here I will outline the general costs of the Palace on Wheels for you to get a rough idea of the overall value and spending on the journey. These prices are for high season.
Prices for the Palace on Wheels start from $650 USD per person per night.
All food, excursions, entrance tickets, tour guides and transfers as well as bottled water, tea and coffee are included in the overall total cost.
Alcoholic drinks and soft drinks are not included in the total cost and you must pay for this as an extra addition. As an example, one bottle of beer will set you back around £5. Laundry service is also at an additional charge.
One last cost to take into consideration is gratuity. It’s recommended to tip each tour guide each day along with tipping your personal porter and kitchen staff at the end of the trip.
I hope all the above gives you a better idea and a picture of the overall costs that are expected for the Palace on Wheels.
Journey starts in New Delhi
Delhi Safdarjung is the departure station for the Palace of Wheels. This is where your adventure across India for the next 8 days will start before returning and ending back in Delhi once you’ve completed the Golden Triangle.
First things first, sort out your check-in, get your train ticket and sort out all the formalities. Check in your bag and find the way to your room and meet your porters for the next week and then enjoy a local music welcome ceremony and a light bite to eat and drink before your train departs and your journey begins.
Now you’re on your way, you can enjoy your first evening dining experience, meet other fellow passengers on board and get ready for the next destination in the morning.
Next stop, Jaipur!
The pink city of Jaipur
Jaipur is often called the pink city of India as they paint the surrounding buildings pink frequently every few years to give the city a unique and vibrant colour.
Travel in style on the Palace on Wheels with a friendly and colourful welcome. Every stop you make, you will be greeted with music and dance to welcome you to each city along the train route. How’s that for a morning welcome?
At every stop on the Palace on Wheels you will be introduced to a local tour guide who will share his knowledge with you to ensure you learn as much as you want to discover about each stop along your route.
At our first stop in Jaipur we walked around the Albert Hall Museum. It is one of the oldest museums in the state. Here you can discover many rich pieces of art amongst its walls as well as appreciate the architecture of the building.
Don’t forget to pick up some local tea from a vendor if you see a brew being made. Super refreshing in the India weather and a nice way to take a break too.
Head to the top of Amer Fort with a Jeep and follow the cobbled streets to the entrance point. Here you can get a great overview of Jaipur and the surrounding area from up above.
Be sure to walk around and explore the foreground of this magnificent complex.
Spend some time walking around and exploring the City Palace with its rich colours and surrounding history on display amongst its walls. A great way to end your time in Jaipur as the sun starts to set.
Ranthambore National Park for tiger safari spotting
For a chance to enjoy local wildlife and a rare chance to spot a tiger in the wild, be sure to stop off at the Ranthambore National Park.
Be ready for an early 04:30am start as breakfast will be ready for you on your return. This is to make the most out of the best time of the day for spotting some wild animals waking up for breakfast in the national park at sunrise.
You will be loaded up with your tour guide onto an open top safari truck with blankets to survive the cold morning temperatures.
Spotting a tiger in the wild has to be the highlight of the trip for sure. We were lucky to spot one waking up for a morning sunrise just at the perfect time.
Extremely lucky indeed as spottings can be rare and happy we managed to make it happen on our trip.
Chittorgarh is a city in Rajasthan and is known for the honey-coloured 7th-century Chittorgarh Fort, a vast hilltop complex with the remains of many temples and monuments.
Vijay Stambh, also known as the Tower of Victory, is built from red sandstone and white marble. Here you can find many hungry monkeys waiting for snacks to be handed to them. The tower offers city views from the top, and it is lit up to make it a magical spot at night time.
Udaipur was one of my favourite stops on the Palace on Wheels tour as the city is full of areas to discover by taking a boat tour or even a tuk tuk ride.
Udaipur is set around a series of artificial lakes and reminds me a lot of European settings such as Lake Geneva.
Udaipur is also known for its lavish royal residences which you can walk around today.
City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola, is a monumental complex of 11 palaces, courtyards, and gardens. City Palace is known for its intricate peacock mosaics.
Jaisalmer is one of the only living fortresses to be found in India. You can walk around the fortress and see as life has taken over amongst the walls.
Here you can find tucked away coffee shops and tea rooms as well as local vendors selling arts and crafts for haggling visitors.
You could easily get lost around the fortress for hours so be sure to set some time aside to wander around the area.
Jodhpur was a wild card as it surprised me the most. Once you get to the fortress located on the hill you can start to appreciate the pure size of the place – it’s a mega structure.
To think what went on amongst these walls and to see the wealth and history that was here in the past after taking a tour around the museum you can picture what this place used to be like back in the day.
The highlight, however, was exploring the bright blue city below. You can see the sparkle from up the top of the fort.
Grab a rickshaw taxi and whizz around the back streets to see all the blue colourful buildings scattered around the city.
Your journey ends in Agra
I couldn’t imagine a better way to end my trip across India on the Palace of wheels than in Agra. Agra is of course the home of the Taj Mahal.
Agra is also home to Agra Fort which is worth a mention and visit if you have some spare time.
The Taj Mahal has been on my bucket list for quite a few years now and to save the best till last was a truly magical experience.
Not many landmarks around the world give you goosebumps, but on my Taj Mahal visit I sure did get that incredible wow feeling.
The structure is truly breathtaking and looks better in real life. You simply have to visit Taj Mahal on your next visit to India to get that same feeling.
It wasn’t as overrated as other popular monuments around the globe. It’s for sure worth the four-hour round-trip journey from New Delhi if you ever have the chance.
All good things must come to an end
This is where my journey across India by train ends. After our visit to Agra we boarded the Palace on Wheels for our final meal and night on board.
We headed back to New Delhi over night to complete the full Golden Triangle that took us across Rajasthan to Agra and back to New Delhi where we started 8 days ago.
I remember packing that night thinking how lovely the service on board has been, the staff throughout the whole journey have been superb and it’s been lovely not having to pack my bag every day which I’m normally used to on these types of overland adventures.
Having your itinerary looked after for you and not having to move rooms each night and waking up at your destination each day made the journey go with a wonderful breeze. That’s the love of train travel and what makes it so special.
Plus, I got rather used to having a personal morning alarm from the porter who would bring us tea and biscuits each morning and make our bed for us. Now, that’s a way to wake up and start your day first thing in the morning.
I can only offer my humble thanks to all the staff aboard the Palace on Wheels for being so welcoming and making the journey so enjoyable every step of the way.
A great way to experience Incredible India.
I think I should book more railway adventures in the future, watch this space!
Incredible India, The Great Indian Blog Train
Above in this picture is my group who shared the adventure with me across India on the Palace of Wheels with Incredible India as part of The Great Indian Blog Train.
In total 60 bloggers split up across 4 trains to explore different parts of India by train. Be sure to search for the hashtag #IndiaBlogTrain across social media to follow the other journeys.
Thank you for reading my blog post about the Palace on Wheels
Thank you for reading my blog post about the Palace on Wheels. I hope you found it useful. If you do have any further questions, I’m very happy to help. You can leave a comment below in the comment section of this blog post.
One more thing before you go.