JAIPUR: The iconic Palace on Wheels (POW) luxury train’s off-season idleness has come in handy for the Rajasthan government to spur religious pilgrimages.
The POW has epitomized opulent travel, ferrying tourists with deep pockets to the state’s famous destinations. However, in May and June, the wheels come to stop as tourist flow is reduced to a trickle.
That’s the time the state government has chosen this year to harness the grandeur of the esteemed train to ferry high-end pilgrims to Ayodhya, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Mathura, and Vrindavan.
The pilgrims’ sensitivities are well taken care of: no alcohol and only vegetarian food services on board. The move is said to be inspired by the current public mood over Shri Ram Mandir’s consecration in Ayodhya. Ergo,
The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) has entrusted the operation of the POW to a Gujarat-based private company. Previously under the sole management of the RTDC, the POW will now be overseen by Cube Construction Company Pvt Ltd for the next seven years.
The private operator will inaugurate its religious tour services in May, offering a six-day itinerary commencing from Delhi. The route will encompass Ayodhya, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Mathura, and Vrindavan.
Pradeep Bohra, director of Palace on Wheels, affirmed that the customary offerings of non-veg fare and alcoholic beverages, prevalent during regular journeys, will be eschewed during religious tours. Additionally, the menu will eschew onion and garlic, and passengers will be serenaded with devotional melodies resonant with the spirit of Ram and Krishna throughout the journey.
Previously operational for eight months annually, the POW is poised to extend its services to a year-round basis under the stewardship of a Gujarat-based company. While the religious tours are initially scheduled for a two-month period, efforts are underway to attract local tourists, providing them with flexible itineraries and discounted rates for specific destinations.
Cube Construction Company has pledged an annual payment of Rs 5 crore to the RTDC for the operation of the Palace on Wheels, in addition to a share of 18% of the total turnover. The recent refurbishment of the train, costing Rs. 7 crore, marks its fourth generation of upgrades, with the current renovation overseen by the Gujarat-based company.
Redefining opulent travel
Featuring state-of-the-art amenities and full air-conditioning, Palace on Wheels boasts of luxurious coaches equipped with bedrooms, lounges, pantries, kitchens, dining cars, and personalized services, including a stocked bar. The fare for a night’s journey ranges from `70,000 to `95,000, accommodating a maximum of 46 passengers. Launched on January 26, 1982, the train continues to redefine the opulent travel experience with each successive upgrade and will now be overseen by Cube Construction