One of the most wonderful ways to experience India is on a luxury train. The Maharajas’ Express and the Palace on Wheels are the most popular choices for tourists to enjoy some spectacular landscapes and experience the best of Indian culture and hospitality. The two trains were introduced with the objective of promoting tourism in Rajasthan and are among the best in the world.
Therefore, if you have to make a choice between them, it can be quite a task. To make the job easier, here is a comparison between the two.
Launch and development
The Palace on Wheels was introduced much before the Maharajas’ Express. It started its tours in the year 1982. The idea with the Palace on Wheels was to have a luxury coach that primarily focused on giving the tourists an experience narrating the grandeur of the royal heritage of India, covering cities of Agra, Jaipur, and Delhi. These three cities together form the golden triangle for tourists.
As for the Maharajas’ Express, the launch was more recent, in 2010. This allowed the creators enough time to figure out the issues and challenges with respect to the older heritage train tours. As a result, the train is not only better equipped but also offers more comfort and luxury.
The Route Covered
The primary difference between the two trains is the journey they undertake. Both the trains operate mostly in Rajasthan. They take you through some of the best-known heritage sites and let you experience the history and the tales of valor that the state is steeped in.
Palace on wheels offers a single itinerary. In this journey, the train covers Jaipur, Delhi, Ranthambore National Park, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bharatpur and Agra.
The Maharajas’ Express gives you five itineraries to choose from. This also includes the golden triangle tours that take four days to cover. The destinations covered are Ranthambore, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Mumbai, Orchcha, Gwalior, Varanasi, Khajuraho and Lucknow.
The next distinguishing factor is the price. The Maharajas’ Express is more luxurious of the two trains and the packages offered are higher in price as compared to the Palace on Wheels.
On the Palace on Wheels, a 7-night trip is priced at USD 4,550. The Maharajas’ Express offers various packages with the lowest one starting at USD 3,850 per head for three nights in a Deluxe Cabin.
The services on the Maharajas’ Express are much more superior with a lot more facilities, which justifies the price that you pay.
The basic amenities offered in both the trains are quite the same. They both offer live TV, DVD players, attached bathrooms, and Wi-Fi. As for the Palace on Wheels, you have a spa facility as well, that you will not find aboard the Maharajas’ Express.
The Maharajas’ Express focuses mostly on the experience rather than physical amenities. For instance, one constant issue for travelers, especially those who are from other countries is sleep. Train rides can be quite uncomfortable, as they tend to be shaky and noisy. To take care of this, the Maharajas’ Express introduced a pneumatic suspension system. This ensures a super smooth ride for the travellers who need not worry about being woken up by the any rambling noises or jolts.
In addition to this, you have the finest in terms of luxury with the Maharajas’ Express. For instance, the food is served using cutlery that is gold plated. You are also offered drinks in glasses made from pure Swarowski Crystal. With the Maharajas’ Express, you truly get to experience royalty.
The Maharajas’ Express
- The Maharajas’ Express has been recognized as the most luxurious train in the World and ranks at No. 1.
- This train has beaten some fine contenders like the Vince Simplon Orient Express, the Royal Scotsman, and the Rovos Rail to bag the World’s Leading Luxury Train Title for three years consecutively.
- The Maharajas’ Express is operated by the IRCTC.
The Palace on Wheels
- The Palace on Wheels has been voted as the fourth most luxurious train in the world.
- You have a full-fledged spa that offers Ayurvedic and other treatments for its passengers.
- With the Palace on Wheels, you can get special services for the physically challenged such as a wheel chair. You will not find this facility on the Maharajas’ Express.
- Palace on Wheels is operated by the Rajasthan Tourism Department in association with the IRCTC.
Which one should you opt for?
While both trains offer unique experiences for the passengers, the choice boils down mostly to the price. If you have the budget for it, then the Maharajas’ Express is definitely the choice that you should make to experience royal hospitality. The Maharajas’ Express includes the best in technology for railways and is a more modern experience.
However, if you are someone who enjoys the romance of the yesteryears and want to embark on a journey that takes you back in time with its interiors and services, then the Palace on Wheels is definitely the choice for you. The train is a replica of the coaches that were created for the personal use of the Nizams, Maharajas, and the Viceroys back in the day. That makes it more vintage, in terms of the experience.
Irrespective of the train that you choose to travel in, you can be sure to go home with experiences that will last you a lifetime. There are three more luxury lines that run in India including the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, the Deccan Odyssey and the Golden Chariot that cover a route in the Southern Part of India.
Needless to say, the Palace on Wheels and the Maharajas’ Express are the most popular of them all and are certainly something that you should put on your travel bucket list.