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Rail Tourism in India

Updated on December 4, 2016

Tourist Train Maharajah Express

Royal Rajasthan Rail
Royal Rajasthan Rail | Source

Railway Tourism - IRCTC

IRCTC has been at the forefront of promoting railway tourism in India. The acronym stands for Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. It is a subsidiary of Indian Railways under the Ministry of Railways.

A number of tourist trains now operate on various routes covering India. Some of the rails are super luxurious. The saloons offer five star facilities, modern amenities and impeccable services. The tourism trains cover major destinations with focus on historical monuments, ancient temples, wildlife parks and cultural centres.

There are packages available for holiday in these premium rails. The tariff is very high hence upscale tourists are being targeted. These rails are being managed and run by the State Governments having itineraries that are most preferred by the tourists in India and abroad. The duration of the packages are usually seven nights and eight days.

Highly trained staff and quality service are the two main reasons for the success of this venture in India. The coaches have been designed as per those belonging to erstwhile Maharajahs and Nawabs.

In recent times a number of trains dedicated to spiritual and religious tourism are being operated. Most of these ply though holy destinations pertaining to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam. These trains have a purpose and hence more affordable tariff is applicable for the devotees.

The Indian Railway has decided to introduce coaches in regular trains that would be equal in offerings to the luxury train. These have been named as Anubhuti Coaches.

Luxury Train Photos

Luxury Rail Interior
Luxury Rail Interior | Source
Maharaja Express
Maharaja Express | Source

Major Tourism Trains

In the super luxury segment the tourism trains operating in India are:

  • Deccan Odyssey
  • Maharajah Express
  • Golden Chariot
  • Palace on Wheels
  • Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
  • Royal Oriental Express
  • Buddhist Circuit Rail

The above rail tourism is a unique way to tour India. The classic ambience and super comforts were once part of Maharajah lifestyle in the country. This IRCTC venture has been successful and large number of inbound tourists and Indians book the packages available. The itineraries offer an unforgettable experience of Royal rail travel in India far apart from chaotic travel in passenger rails.

Steam Train tours offer a nostalgic journey imitating the British India period. Most of these locomotives operate on major hill resorts of India. Some notable examples are the Darjeeling Rail in East, Shimla Rail in North and Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Southern India.

Luxury Rails

Luxury Express Train
Luxury Express Train | Source
Tourist Train Restaurant
Tourist Train Restaurant | Source

Tourism Rail Video India

Tourism Trian Image


Rail Tourism - Features and Services

The highly decorated rails are emblem of luxury travel all over the World not only India. The tourist trains exhibit old world charm reminiscing the days of the Maharajahs. The warm interiors are created using state of art furnishings like mahogany and teak furniture, silky fabrics, gleaming carpets and wall decors that symbolise royal patronage.

The coaches are fitted with all modern amenities including Internet connectivity, music systems and subtle lighting for a highly soothing ambience. The toilets and bath have been fitted with state of art ornamental and marble fittings.

The rails have fine dining restaurants, bars and coffee shops. These are manned by experienced chefs, wait service and what not. The eateries serve finest Indian and Continental Cuisine by the gastronomic experts. The bars are very well stocked and serve the finest of cocktails and premium liquors.

Travel in these opulent coaches is akin to living the way the Maharajahs did. The luxury and sheer indulgence is nowhere less than what the royals had.

Luxury Tourist Train

Palace of Wheels Tourist Train in India
Palace of Wheels Tourist Train in India | Source

Journey in Style

Inside the coaches you get the real lifestyle like the erstwhile maharajahs, nawabs and wealthy businessmen. Outside is wonderful picturesque charming India all yours to look at in awe. The itinerary takes you to many sightseeing places, hill resorts, temples and tiger reserves as well. This is a unique way to touring India on extreme luxury. The verdant landscape and bustling towns offer a soothing experience as the rail travels past.

Amidst the opulence of royal coaches, restaurant and bars you are indulged in spoiling luxury and dotting service. The master chefs create a wide variety of fare and tangy mix of some mind boggling alcoholic and fruit mock tails for the elite tourists on board. The itineraries offer pleasantries of luxury coach travel but also experience of forts, palaces and magnificent five star resorts in the destinations with overnight halt.

Special Pilgrimage Trains

IRCTC has recently announced special pilgrimage trains of its website. These are meant to cover holy destinations pertaining to various religions being practised in India. The package duration is from one week to as long as three weeks. They are classified as economy, comfort and deluxe.

The package cost per person ranges from Rs.10000 to 40000 depending upon the amenities reserved. The accommodation is available in sleeper class, 3 AC and 2 AC. The fare covers road transfers and meals on board and off board. The services and amenities provided are by all means luxurious but nit as classy as the tourist rails meant for high end tourism. The fare does not include personal expenses, entry fees and camera charges etc.

Limitation of mineral water servings is set in the term and conditions. The accommodation is provided in Dharamshalas but on request luxury hotel arrangement can be made for subject to extra charges.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway



IRCTC was initially set to provide Internet Booking Facility on Indian Railway Trains. Later it also provided catering services in express trains and at the Railway Stations. Of late the company provides catering services on selected rails and stations. It is also manages Jaan Ahaar food service at stations.

Under the aegis of this organisation services like food plazas have been set up recently. The catering infrastructure includes Food Plazas, Fast Food units, Automated Vending Machine and Book Stalls.


IRCTC facilitates online reservation in Indian trains. This is done through its portal on the Internet. The facilities provided are e-Ticket Booking and I Ticket Booking. The portal also facilitates reservations under the Tatkal Scheme.

The tickets can be bought using card payment system. Wait listed tickets for all class can be checked for their position using a search tool. The confirmation list is updated periodically. Hence to check Indian Railway pnr status one must do it frequently. All you have to do is enter the ten digit pnr number mentioned on the ticket. The search tool will then furnish the status in few seconds with related details.

Himalayan Railway

Himalyan Steam Hill Rail
Himalyan Steam Hill Rail | Source

Tour Operators

The rail tourism has opened new vistas for the top tour operators in India. These tour operators help book luxury rail packages for various destinations. Some are localised while many book packages nation wide.

The top travel companies are recognised with the Ministry of Tourism. As landing agent the companies organise and manage all package tours for foreign tour operators.

Toy Trail Darjeeling

Toy Train at Darjeeling Hill Station in India
Toy Train at Darjeeling Hill Station in India | Source

Rail Tourism

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© 2012 Uday Patel


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