Karnataka’s Palace on Wheels: The Golden Chariot

The Golden Chariot, Karnataka’s own palace on wheels will start operating from March 03, according to the Deccan Herald. This is a wonderful step in promoting Karnataka to the outside world. At a price tag of Rs one lakh per ticket for each of the 100 seats, it is beyond the budget of most local travelers. And maybe, the railways wants to keep it that way: exclusive and out of reach. The railway minister has openly admitted that he would be happy even if they manage to get a 30% occupancy on the train.

In its 800 km stretch, the train that cost a cool 30 crore will cover Badami, Aihole, Pattadkal, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, and other such places of architectural splendor. Am not quite sure if south kanara makes the grade though.

The train has already stirred up protests with its proposal to have a bar on the train. However, for once, the Government is being practical in its approach and is not accomodating the wishes of the cultural brigade. When liquor is available even at food outlets in the state, it doesn’t make much sense not to have it on the train. Of course, it would defintely be a matter of concern if the spirits were available close to the driver’s cabin :)

For people who complain that such a train should be made available to the common man, I would say that such indulgences are best left to people who have the money for it, and who do not want the ‘other side’ of India to come in their way through their cruise. I have traveled the length and breadth of this country, most times on a shoestring budget, and believe me, it is a lot more fun that way. You get to mix with the local populace, understand their culture, and just take in the smells of the region. In conducted tours, one is more likely to stick to one’s group without ever wanting to be adventurous. As long as you know a little bit of Hindi, most parts of India are accessible, except for one state, and again, only parts of it. It would not take too much of your intelligence to know the state I am hinting at.

In case you are thinking that this a case of sour grapes, I have to admit that given a free ticket or at 1/10th that price tag, I would definitely try out the Golden Chariot. At its current price, it does not make any sense for a resident Indian to take the journey. I could have an all-India trip and still come back with money to spare.

The next luxury train to be flagged off will be the Garib Rath, an AC luxury apparently for the masses. At a discounted price tag of 25% less than the normal AC fare (which class?), am not sure how much of the Garib junta will be boarding this rath. As of now, I can only imagine the young software turks from Bangalore and Hyderabad making up the queue.

The state road transport has done remarkably well in the years since they made the turnaround. Hopefully, the railways too will make the grade.

4 Comments so far

  1. My3 (unregistered) on February 3rd, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

    This is not for the locals. It is for the tourists. If Indian Railways is going to earn Euros and Pounds who is anybody to complain?

    Ofcourse we can do all these on a shoe string budget!! Get on the many KSTDC tours and pay the Rs.1650 required and go. Or even cheaper get on the local busses. I think we complain too much when we have visitors wanting a packaged tour and paying from their own pockets while our Minishters go on all-expense paid trips to foreign countries. Lighten up! Not many are looking to going around the countryside on a shoestring budget ;-)

  2. Libran Lover (unregistered) on February 4th, 2008 @ 5:03 am

    Even by an international traveller’s standards, 1 lakh seems too costly. With that much money, you can tour most of Europe (excluding the cost of getting there, of course). With the falling dollar values, even American tourists won’t spend much overseas in the next few years. Hate to be pessimistic, but this will be a failed project simply because of the cost of the ticket.

  3. NParry (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 1:00 am

    Count one more for the marketing geniuses at the Tourism Dept. Straight off the bat, they’ve removed thousands of potential travelers by making the fares absurdly steep! They have no clue to entice travelers, build loyalty, then traffic and then gradually increase fares – like the Japanese do for their cars. I predict it will be shut down soon, if they don’t bring it down by a few thousand rupees or even halve it, or offer a combo air/train package.

  4. Orly Dias (unregistered) on February 6th, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

    1,00,000 which would mean somewhere around $2500 or 1800 euros would be a steal if this stretch is covered in say about 4 days or 5 days. And there would be takers specially foreign tourists. But the length of the journey and places covered by the tour could be too less for foreigners. Anyways, the operating costs would be covered if they manage to sell even 15 tickets per trip.

    Coming to the second part of the post, "Hopefully, the railways too will make the grade" – ARE YOU KIDDING!!! WAKE UP!! HULLOW!!
    The Indian Railways is the world’s largest employer, runs the largest rail network in the world and yes to wake you up from your slumber – had a profit of 20,000 crores last year… Are you sure you are in 2008 or are you still in 2000?

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