Deccan Odyssey: The Blue Limousine on Rolling Wheels

Marwa Grimes

Not many people are aware of this fact that Maharashtra State Tourism and Development Corporation (MTDC) was the second state tourism board to launch luxury tourist train after the resounding success of Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan. A joint initiative of MTDC and the Indian Railways, Deccan Odyssey chugged on its maiden journey on 16th January, 2004.

Often set as benchmark against the world class luxury trains such as Blue Train of South Africa and Venice Simplon Orient Express, Deccan Odyssey takes guests on a weeklong jaunt into Maratha heartland along with two days halt in Goa. The two days halt in Goa is the result of recent repackaging of the itinerary of this Indian luxury train. The journey spanning over 8 days and 7 nights begins from Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai and encompasses Sindhugarh, Goa, Vasco, Kolhapur, Daulatabad, Ajanta & Ellora and Nashik before culminating the tour back in Mumbai.

All the destinations included in the itinerary of Indian luxury train are starkly opposite to each other in terms of outlook but holds a significant connection with ancient and medieval civilization of India. A cluster of seven islands, Mumbai has witnessed rule of different colonial powers over the course of history. The colonial edifices housed in the city stands as a testimony to the bygone colonial rule. Next on the cards is Sindhugarh- the fortress town of Chattrapati Shivaji which boasts of several temples built during his reign.

Deccan Odyssey enters the precincts of Goa on the 3rd day. The churches and cathedrals sprinkled across Old Goa were built in 15th and 16th century after the arrival of Portuguese colonies in Goa. Besides Old Goa excursion, a trip to Menezes Braganza House will add to the heritage appeal. Then there is Kolhapur whose name is associated with a mythological story wherein a demon named Kolhasura was killed by Goddess Mahalakshmi to relieve local populace. The popular attractions that you will visit include New Palace, Shalini Palace, Mahalakshmi temple and Bhawani Mandap.

Moving on your Deccan Odyssey tour itinerary, there is rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora that epitomizes the ancient civilization of India. A visit to these caves will bring you face to face with creativity of human mind and religious harmony between Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. One of the four venues of Kumbh Mela, Nashik, is the last destination of your luxury train tour. The top most attractions of this city are Panchwati and Kala Ram Temple.

As per the schedule of Deccan Odyssey train for the year 2012-13, there are 13 departure dates for the upcoming run season of this luxury tourist train. Moreover Deccan Odyssey is a luxury train and comes equipped with all the facilities and services required for such rail tours. The train comprises of 11 guest carriages reflecting the cultural ethos of erstwhile Deccan dynasties in their interior d├ęcor and come equipped with state of the art amenities such as LCD television, direct dial phone, personal safe, air conditioning and attached bathrooms.

Adding to the facilities of this luxury tourist train are 2 restaurants, a bar, sitting lounge, conference coach and health spa which truly justifies the introductory tariff of this train USD 425. Therefore, to say that Deccan Odyssey is a blue limousine on rolling wheels will not be an overstatement.

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