BENGALURU: The magnificent ruins of Hampi, the heritage sites of Pattadakal and the cultural richness of Mysuru will be showcased to tourists on the first southern circuit of the hugely popular Maharajas’ Express tourist train run by Indian Railway Catering and Tourist Corporation.
The train, launched in March 2010, has covered 36 trips in Northern and Central India but has not ventured down south. The IRCTC is now busy finalising the details of its seven-night, eight-day tour of South India.
IRCTC sources said the route will originate from Mumbai and take passengers to select locales in Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “We plan to run two trips between August and September 2017. Since such tours are planned a year in advance by foreign tourists, we are going all out to finalise our partners in providing the services within the next 30 to 45 days,” he said. The exact dates of trip and package charges for IRCTC’s maiden Southern foray are still being finalised.
While the UNESCO sites of Hampi and Pattadakal along with Mysuru will be covered in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram and Karaikudi (or Madurai) will be the spots visited in Tamil Nadu. The southern package will cover Kochi, the backwaters of Allepey and Kumarakom and terminate at Tiruvananthapuram, a source said. The second trip, in the return direction, will terminate at Mumbai.
Unlike South India’s only luxury tourist package, `Golden Chariot’ run by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, which is effecting many changes to overcome low occupancy figures, the packages of Maharajas’ Express are much sought after despite it being the costliest of all luxury train tours run in India.
When asked if its entry into the South could hurt the prospects of Golden Chariot, a top official ruled it out. “Almost 95 percent of our clientele are from abroad. Our luxury package caters to an elite section and will not pose any competition to the state-run luxury train,” he said.