Travel

IRCTC revives Golden Chariot, first tour on March 22

The Golden Chariot is one of the few luxury trains operated by Indian Railway

The Golden Chariot is one of the few luxury trains operated by Indian Railway   | Photo Credit: R M Rajarathinam

IRCTC breathes fresh life into luxury train service, The Golden Chariot, which had gone defunct due to patronage problems

The definition of luxury on wheels — The Golden Chariot, one of the few trains in India that offers an epicurean experience for the traveller, is springing back to life courtesy the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Launched in 2008 by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation, decreased patronage in recent years caused the curtailment of operations until recently, when IRCTC stepped in to lend a helping hand. SS Jagannathan, General Manager, IRCTC- South Zone, says that revival and operation of the train is part of a 10-year agreement with the Government of Karnataka. What is different now is that payment can be made in rupees (earlier only in USD).

Spoiled for options
  • IRCTC will launch other thematic rides with The Golden Chariot in October 2020. Named the Jewels of South, the tour takes one from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and back in six nights and seven days, covering locations like Mamallapuram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Kanyakumari, Alleppey and Kochi. An inter-State trip on The Golden Chariot titled Glimpses of Karnataka will take travellers from Bengaluru to Mysore, Bandipur and Hampi before returning to its origin point in four days.

On March 22, the Golden Chariot will set off on a fresh journey from the Yeshwantpur Railway Station. The package, christened Pride of Karnataka, will take travellers along a scenic route from Bengaluru to Mysuru, Chikmagalur, Hampi and to Goa before returning. There is a 50% discount on booking if you are travelling with a companion. The Golden Chariot will make the same journey on two other dates — March 29 and April 12.

IRCTC is also opening up pilgrimage tours: A Bharat Darshan tourist train, dubbed the Ramayana Yatra, is set to depart from Tirunelveli on March 5. “The Bharat Darshan trains started 12 years ago, and just recently we completed its 377th trip. The Ramayana Yatra is a customised tour of all sites linked to the epic,” adds Jagannathan.

With 12 sleeper-class coaches and a passenger seating capacity of almost 800, those booking on the Ramayana Yatra can board the train from Tirunelveli, Madurai, Dindigul, Karur, Erode, Salem, Jolarpettai, Katpadi and MGR Chennai Central. At a per person cost of ₹15,990, the train will visit landmark sites in Chitrakoot Dham, Buxar, Raghunathpur, Janakpuri in Nepal, Ayodhya, Allahabad, Nashik and Hampi among other locations. The duration of the trip is 13 days. “We had postponed the Ramayana Yatra from November last year in light of the Ayodhya verdict,” he says.

IRCTC is also planning to re-open tourist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from summer. “We hope that the current situation will be resolved by then,” Jagannathan adds. With the Railway’s vast network, more State Governments are knocking on IRCTC’s doors to help with tourism. “Kerala Tourism has offered us their properties in Guruvayoor, Munnar, Thekkady and Wayanad. We will be jointly offering tourism packages to these places,” he says.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 8:21:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/irctc-revives-golden-chariot-first-tour-on-march-22/article30862390.ece

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