Luxury on Wheels

golden-chariot.JPGWe have read about it in books and dreamt about it at night; now Karnataka has turned it into a reality. I am referring to the luxury train ‘Golden Chariot’, which is all set to take the tourism scene by storm. The train moves from Bangalore to Goa over seven nights, and it seeks to treat the travelers with a heady blend of ultimate luxury and glimpses of Karnataka’s culture.

‘Golden Chariot’ is a Rs.40 crore joint venture by the Karnataka Government, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation and the Railway Ministry. There are nineteen coaches which include a lounge, a bar and a gym. The coaches have names like Vijaynagara, Chalukya and Hoysala, perhaps indicating that it would be a journey through Karnataka’s history. Indeed, the train will take the passengers through some of its most famous tourist spots like Srirangapatna, Mysore, Kabini, Belur, Halebid and Aihole, before finally reaching its destination, Goa.

‘Golden Chariot’ promises to give its passengers a unique experience on the train. The train is painted royal purple and the luxury coaches have traditional furniture and are decorated with handicrafts. It seems that the Karnataka Government is all out to ensure that the seven-day journey becomes a lifetime experience for the passengers.

Luxury, naturally, comes at a price and not surprisingly, the rates for ‘Golden Chariot’ are as high as Rs.14, 000 per head per night. Tourism is an increasingly competitive industry and this extravagant venture by the Karnataka Government will definitely infuse a renewed feeling of competition between different states of India to attract maximum number of tourists. However, it is worth asking whether this sort of a venture can ever benefit the ordinary Indian tourist. In fact, this concept is not such a new one. ‘Palace on Wheels’ which takes a trip across Rajasthan and ‘Deccan Odyssey’ which travels across the South are other luxury trains which found a very niche group to cater to. Hence, the ‘Golden Chariot’ might just be successful after all.

In any case, ‘Golden Chariot’ is all set to be flagged off and begin its luxurious journey. Perhaps the tourism industry can devise a way in which this luxurious experience could benefit more than a handful.

Ipshita Ghosh

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