Golden Chariot train brings tourists and conjures up memories

The Puducherry Railway Station hosted an unlikely visitor on Wednesday - a royal purple and gold train with names of dynasties that had ruled the Karnataka region, as coach names. The Golden Chariot train brought over 70 tourists to the seaside town for one day.

These tourists, who arrived in Puducherry from Chennai, were greeted with garlands, followed by a cultural extravaganza — two Bharatanatyam performances, and a masquerade, Pondicherry style, on the station premises itself.

Later in the day, the tourists also went on a sightseeing tour of the French quarter, Aurobindo Ashram, and the heritage tourist spots around Puducherry. The town was part of Southern Splendour, the train's first tour to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, since its launch in 2007, said one of the managers of the train.

The train will be proceeding to Tiruchi, Madurai, Kerala and then back to Bangalore from where it first departed on this tour. The fare per person on this tour is approximately Rs. 1.05 lakh, including sightseeing at the various halts. The train, which has been ranked among the top 7 luxury trains in the world, has, apart from luxury accommodation, a spa, a gym, two restaurants serving both Indian and continental food, a bar and a business centre. So far, the train, operated by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, had only been doing trips to sites like Mysore, Kabini, Hassan, Hospet, Badami and Goa. “Puducherry is so lovely,” gush the Wickis from Switzerland.

“The itinerary is interesting, and we are enjoying ourselves tremendously. South India is very nice, though a little too hot for us. As for the train, it is very comfortable, and the personnel kind and friendly. It is even better than the Palace on Wheels train, which we have travelled on,” they say enthusiastically.