One fine day, earlier this year I got an invite from Maharashtra Tourism to join them on a week long journey on the ultra-luxury train appropriately called Deccan Odyssey. The train was to go around Tourist places in Maharashtra and Goa. While you stay onboard for 7 nights and do the sight seeing during the day. I had already seen destinations like Ajanta, Ellora, Goa but Kolhapur, Sindhudurg & Nasik were new to me. So on the Holi day, I landed in Mumbai on empty streets with colorful people. And reached CST station platform no 18, to board the train. The Deccan Odyssey of Maharashtra is similar to the famous palace on wheels of Rajasthan Tourism.
Deccan Odyssey – Luxury Train for Tourists.
It was a pleasant surprise to see a festival like atmosphere with ladies in traditional Maharashtrian attire welcoming the guests. Live music playing on the platform and the professionalism with which the luggage was handled, boarding pass presented and guests ushered in elegantly upholstered interiors of this royal purple colored luxury train. Little did I know that this would repeat at every railway station that we land at for next 7 days! A neat cabin with en-suite bathroom. With a large glass window was to be my home for next 8 days. As I pulled the window curtains, I knew that this is going to be my window from a palace to the India across the miles that we travel. The contrast was visible as soon as I saw the outskirts of Mumbai CST station, and this contrast took many hues over next few days.
The train is designed to treat its guests like royalty. As it must have existed in the days of forts and palaces that they are taken to during the trip. Two restaurants fueled by two kitchens served the meals, handled by the proficient kitchen staff of Taj group. A bar with lavender colored furniture was inviting as it can get. A conference room cum games room but library cum concert hall was a place that could be refurbished with a bit of moving around for various purposes.
One evening we had a live Hindustani classical concert. It was an experience to hear live music where the movement of train provided its own rhythm. The last evening on the train, this coach was transformed into a discotheque with everyone on-board dancing to the loud music. And the train movement topping the moves with its jerks.
There was a gym, a beauty parlor, a spa and a business center to take care of all your potential needs. Each coach had a small lounge area for people to sit and chat over Chai. Despite the entire infrastructure, it was the caring attitude of the staff that stands out in the whole experience. The butlers were someone we all wanted to take back home with us. Kitchen staff established a personal connect and would go an extra mile to make sure that you would remember each meal. They even shared the recipe of the couple of dishes that I drooled over.
As the train used to be parked at some small stations and we had our gourmet meals in the luxurious restaurants on board, it was the contrast inside and outside the train that kept coming back to me.
Sometimes we had hilarious moments when people used the one-way glass as a mirror. And admired themselves without realizing we are looking at them. This is when we came closest to observing a man spending time with himself. Conversing with himself through various expressions, checking out his hairstyles, his teeth, his face from various angles. This is probably how a man expresses love to himself by admiring himself in a mirror. By reading his own face and by crafting a look for the rest of the world. Then there were children and women peeping in and wondering what kind of a train it is. At one of the stations I got down to meet a friend, accompanied by the butler in the red uniform, and the questions that came our way were hilarious and at the same time insightful.
At innumerable places, from the lap of luxury, we saw amazing landscapes, beautiful sunsets, waterfalls, fields and sometimes absolute filth. It was the metaphor of sitting in an ivory tower coming alive.
At another level, I was one of the very few Indians amongst the guests who came from literally all corners of the world. I could meet and connect with few of them. As I am going through their business cards and looking at their websites, I feel so very enriched to have met them. As most of them are achievers in their own way. Did I mention that since you are restricted within the train limits as it moves between destinations, you do get ample time to spend with fellow travelers? I would not be surprised if many business deals are stuck on the move? MTDC, you may want to track this…:-)
Do I recommend this ultra-luxury train trip on Deccan Odyssey ? Well, I would say, if you can afford it, this may be one of the few opportunities available to experience the royalty and richness of India in its full grandeur and style. No doubt, it comes at a cost, but at the end, you will cherish the experience of Luxury Train Journeys. And memories crafted for the rest of your life.
Thank you MTDC for giving me this lovely experience.
As part of this Luxury Train Journeys on Deccan Odyssey, I have visited and written following blog posts. Recommend you to read.