Going on an Indian luxury train journey with the Deccan Odyssey was one of my favourite experiences EVER!
To say that I have been to India many times is an understatement. My relationship with India is much more than counting the number of visits (10 I think 😉 ). For those of you who don’t know, I have also lived in India for a while and although it was really short, I consider India is my third home.
I was one of the lucky people invited by the Indian Ministry of Tourism and Incredible India on a journey by a luxury train. I came across these trains many year ago, when I was living in Belgium and I promised to myself that one day I will take one of the trips. Little did I know that years later I would actually be invited on one of these. It goes to show again and again that you really have to want something to make it happen. But enough about my dreams or plans, let me tell you about the train instead.
What are these Indian Luxury trains
The Indian luxury trains are a brilliant way to see the country without worrying about anything. Not only everything will be arranged for you, but you will travel in comfort and style. If you are searching for special or even unique experiences, search no further!
I am going to be very honest with you from the beginning: they do not come cheap BUT they are a unique experience!
There are 4 Indian luxury trains:
- Deccan Odyssey
- Maharajah Express
- Palace on Wheels
- The Golden Chariot
Each of them has multiple routes to choose from and each journey is usually for 8 days/ 7 nights. They all cost the same.
I was on the Deccan Odyssey luxury train which has 6 journeys. Our journey was called “The Maharashtra Splendour” and I fully agree with that name.
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning of the journey, because I had been to this region before and I did not expect it to be “that exciting”. I would have liked to see other things that I haven’s seen yet in India. But luckily, soon I realised that we were on a special journey. This journey took us through more local and off beaten places, that you do not normally see when you are traveling to India by yourself and that are a little bit more difficult to reach as a non local. The train proved to be the perfect way of transportation if you wanted to really see the Maharashtra region. I will go into more details about the region itself in a future post. Here I just want to present you the train and show you what you can expect from this type of journey on a luxury train through India.
What can you expect from a luxury train journey through India and in particular from the Deccan Odyssey luxury train
I am aware of general things about the other three trains, as they are all very similar, but I am only telling you here about my own experience in the Deccan Odyssey luxury train.
1. You can expect to be treated as royalty
From the moment you get on the train until the moment you wave goodbye to it you a king/queen. It was the first time in my life when I had my own personal butler!
2. You can expect first class service
And that is throughout your entire journey, be it in the way your food is served, how your bed is made or how you are welcomed back to the train every time
3. It feels like a 5 stars hotel on wheels
Every time somebody asked me about my experience with the Indian luxury train, I used the same short description: it felt like a 5 stars hotel on wheels. Of course the rooms were a lot smaller, of course the space was limited but it did not bother me at all in fact. Laying in your bed and watching the world go by your window and admiring gorgeous landscape along the way can more than make up for the space. And the beds are very comfortable!
Oh and there is also a flat screen TV with pre-loaded movies and music.
4. It can be difficult sometimes for light sleepers
Some nights the train will be riding and some it will be stationary. I am a very light sleeper and I have to be honest with you, I did not sleep much when the train was moving. But that is just me. Other people had no problem. I have trouble sleeping during flights as well, even if I travel in business class and have flat beds. The good thing about riding in the night is that next day, when you wake up, you are already at your next destination.
5. You will be getting off the train every day to a new destination
From there onwards, the journey will be by bus. Depending on how far the destination is from the train station and how much there is to do or see there, the trip can take from a half day to a day. The first few days we spent half of the day sightseeing and half of the day in the train, but towards the end we were gone for almost a full day.
6. You always get a traditional welcome in each place you visit
Every time you get off the train you are welcomed as a VIP, with local performances (dancing, singing) by the local people. Feel free to join them. The energy is very catching and it is quite difficult not to join in, especially if you like Indian music and dances like I do.
7. Excellent Indian and international food
Most meals are taken aboard the train, but they are never the same. There is always a varied menu to choose from which includes also non-Indian dishes. However, I strongly recommend you to try and eat as much Indian food as you can (if you like it if course) in order to have a full experience. Everywhere I go I mostly eat local food and it always adds to my experience. Plus, Indian food is soooooooo tasty! I am lucky I like spicy food though, otherwise you have to tell to the stuff and they will do even the impossible to cater to your needs. I am not joking. Indian hospitality is above and beyond!
8. You get daily schedule announcements
Each evening you are getting a card in your room with the next day’s schedule. You are also given more details through the train’s radio channel, such as: what kind of dress code is required (if going to temples, you should always have something to cover your legs and shoulders as a woman), if you will walk a lot and therefore require comfortable shoes and so on. There is also an announcement in the morning, making sure that everybody is awake and that they are not late for the day’s activities.
9. You should be on time
The train does not have a flexible schedule as it is using India’s national rail system and therefore timings of activities need to be strictly adhered to. I know it is very strange for India but it is a very important aspect.
10. Bollywood night parties
While I cannot guarantee Bollywood night parties in all luxury trains, we certainly had one in our Deccan Odyssey ! Ok… one “official”party in the last night and many “unofficial” ones throughout the journey 😁. Its certainly was one of my favourite trips ever!
What can you find on board of the Deccan Odyssey luxury train
Well, everything that you can find in a five stars hotel basically.
NOTE: If you want to o watch my full video about the train you can hop on here!
There are 2 restaurants on the train, both of them serving delicious Indian and international food. One is a bit more classical looking and the other one more traditional, but both very cozy and beautiful. The catering stuff and the chefs are coming from 5 stars hotels throughout India so you are guaranteed very high quality in everything.
There is also a bar/cafe coach where we spent most of our time aboard (to work of course…what did you think?). It is a very nice place to relax, work, socialise and can even be used as a dance floor. We were in India after all, so some Bollywood was required 😉 . I might have had a lot of song requirements….
Below you can see the inside and the outside of my favourite coach
3. Game/reading room
One room where I actually personally did not spend time at all was the game room. No, I am not talking about slots machines here, but actually those old society games you know? However you could also borrow a book from the room’s library or have a look at the mini shop on board as well.
4. A spa and a beauty parlour
My biggest surprise on the train was the Spa though. I didn’t even think that you can have one on the train. And I ALWAYS take the spa into consideration when I go somewhere. So ….you can imagine how happy I was when I found out. I had my very first massage in the first day on the train 😁 . And it wasn’t just the spa, but with an attached beauty parlour. I am talking hairdresser, manicure, pedicure, makeup or whatever else you can find in one of these.
One reason for which you might not be tempted to take one of these train journeys is because you cannot go 7 days without going to the gym! (What? Don’t look at me like that, I am sure there are people like this). I know I can (actually I can go much much longer than that but I don’t want to tell you how long)! But…Guess what?… if you are not lazy like me, do not worry! The train comes with a gym room as well. Needless to say that I cannot give you a review of the equipment though 🙈. All I can say is that it was enough for a proper workout….or so it seemed from the door as I didn’t go in ( yes I was rushing to the Bar coach …to work of course).
6. The rooms
Duh, you can find rooms on a luxury train. Ok, ok, I know you know that, but what I wanted to tell you here is that you can find different types of room, just like in a hotel. If you want to go all the way you can even treat yourself to the presidential suite but unfortunately I cannot show you how it looks as I didn’t stay there (sigh!) . I stayed in a standard room and I was very happy with it. This is how it looked.
7. Wifi conectivity
There is wifi on board and it works pretty well when the train is stationary. However, when riding, it is another story. Inevitably you will go through areas with no network coverage or with very poor connection at best. That can be very frustrating if you are in the middle of something, but if you go on board of such luxury train, the best thing is to try to disconnect and really enjoy the ride and the journey. Voila! Problem solved with the network as well 😊 .
However if you are like me and you need connection all the time, I can recommend you Trabug.
Trabug is India’s first travel phone, as they call themselves. If you are not aware, getting a SIM card in India is a real pain. You need soooooo much documentation, pictures etc. With Trabug, you don’t need to go through all that: they will send you a 4G phone with a local SIM card directly at your hotel/acommodation. I found mine already in my room when I arrived! That’s how professional they are. You can choose the daily data package when you order the phone. They are very prompt in answering all your questions and meeting your requests. Recently they also added a hot spot device to their products, so you can choose depending on your needs.
And I will already let you in one of my favourite stops in our trip: Ellora Caves. I didn’t know about this place before and I was in amazed by its grandeur and its beauty!
And to conclude, here are a few more pics, as usual:
You can also see a collection of all stories from my trip on my instagram channel @worldtravel.bug , where you can also find maaaaaaaany pictures from India ❤.
I hope this article answered your questions about the Indian Luxury trains or maybe you just discovered them. Either way I am always happy to hear from you in the comments below. And if you liked this article or if you want to save it for later you can pin it below.
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