Karnataka’s luxury train Golden Chariot is set to chug from January 2021 to cater to travellers in anticipation of a revival of tourism by then.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) is also toying with the idea of introducing a Christmas package provided the COVID-19 situation eases to a significant extent by December.
The circuitous journey of the luxury train came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic in March 2020 and the rakes were grounded following suspension of all travel and tourism activities since then.
But consequent to the graded unlocking, the KSTDC has announced the itinerary for the Golden Chariot starting from January. The itinerary comprises the Pride of Karnataka (six nights), Jewels of Deccan (six nights) and a 3-day package titled Glimpses of Karnataka. The destinations to be covered will include prominent places of tourist interest, including Mysuru, Kabini, Belur-Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole besides Goa.
Kumar Pushkar, MD, KSTDC, said the bookings are open and the same can be done on the Golden Chariot website. “We have kept the options open to introduce a Christmas package in case the situation eases with respect to the pandemic,” he added. The itinerary of the Christmas package and the costs have not been worked out but it is likely that the same circuit will be marketed with minor modifications to cater to the domestic travellers.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Development Corporation (IRCTC) was vested with the task of refurbishing the interiors of the luxury train and they worked on it from January to March this year to complete the task ahead for the 2020 summer itinerary which was suspended due to the pandemic. So when the Golden Chariot chugs again in January, it will be akin to a brand new train with the interiors overhauled, said Mr. Pushkar.
The new makeover and the interiors are said to befit taste of international train travel enthusiasts with new comfort features, including upholstered furniture, elegant drapery, renovated rooms and bathrooms, crockery and cutlery of reputed international brands and fresh linen apart from in-room entertainment with Wi-Fi enabled smart TVs in every cabin.
The vestibules will also be changed to facilitate easy and safe movement of guests from their respective coaches to the restaurant, which will be in the middle of the rake.
Also, the rakes which are stationed at Chickballapur will be moved to the Ashokapuram Railway Workshop in Mysuru for retrofitting of new suspensions and changing the vestibules.
The earlier rakes had spring suspensions that resulted in lot of jerks during the journey and they will be replaced with air suspension which will pave way for smoother travel. “The State government has already paid the railways for change of suspension and it will be completed by December,” Mr. Pushkar added.