Special Correspondent

First batch of 11 coaches expected from Integral Coach Factory by February

Bangalore: The much awaited "Palace on Wheels" for tourists visiting Karnataka may have derailed and stalled for the time being. But a special luxury train may be running across the State, halting at tourist spots, in about one year from now.

The luxury train will cost around Rs. 32 crore and the Government is known to have funded 50 per cent as its share.

The made-to-order coaches with the best features are being built at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai. The first batch of 11 coaches is expected to be available by February 2007, according to Karnataka Tourism Development Board.

Once the coaches reach Bangalore, the interiors are to be done up by the Mumbai-based firm of designers and architects, Pendse Associates. They earlier designed the Deccan Odyssey, a similar luxury train being operated in Maharashtra.

In addition to the 11 luxury coaches, there will be one with a bar and lounge, a health club and two speciality restaurants, all on wheels. Each coach is to have four cabins, with attached baths. Altogether, the train can accommodate 110 tourists.

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation officials have taken note of certain hitches in the tourist trains run by the Rajasthan and Maharashtra tourism corporations and have planned for improvements in the coaches to be operated here.

The route details are being worked out for a seven-night and eight-day round trip package.

The train may be scheduled to leave Bangalore on Wednesdays to reach Mysore the next day where there will be extensive sightseeing on special coaches. The third day will be in Hassan from where the tourists will be taken to visit Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola.

The next halt will be Hospet on the fourth day where visits to the monuments at Hampi will be arranged. From there, the train will go to Gadag where visits will be arranged to Badami, Pattadkal and Aihole, all on the fifth day of the tour.

The train then goes to Alnavara for a visit to the Dandeli wildlife park and river rafting and other adventure activities.

From Dandeli, the train goes to Londa and then Vasco. The seventh day will be spent in Goa before the train starts back for Bangalore.