It is not very often that life gives you an opportunity to travel around India on board a luxury train. But when it happens, you need to pack your bag and go for it in a heartbeat. And that is precisely what I did. I have never been to India before, and it has always been a country that fascinated me with its vibrant culture and beautiful architecture.
Best Rajasthan Itinerary
India has the 4th most extensive railway network in the world, and there is no better way to visit this country than on board a train. Or rather THE train, as here we’re talking about Palace on Wheels, a high-end train that has the best Rajasthan itinerary, taking you to the most iconic places in India.
Day 1: Delhi
The journey starts at the Delhi train station. The moment you enter the station, you will feel like stepping into an entirely different World. From the hustle and bustle of India’s capital to utterly hassle-free journey with a touch of luxury. No trace of the noisy and busy Indian streets.
Choo Choo! The journey was about to start!
Together with my roommate, we were accompanied to our room on the train by our attendant, Kith, probably the most helpful person in India. I will explain all about facilities and service on the train down below, but if you can’t wait, you can jump to the end of the page straight away.
Day 2: Jaipur
The first stop on my train journey across Rajasthan was Jaipur – the pink city! Pink is known as the color of hospitality, and therefore Maharaja of Jaipur has ordered to paint the whole town in this color during Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visit.
The moment we left the train we were greeted by live music, flower garlands, and elephants. We danced and listened to the music, could there be a better way to start a day?
Our first stop was Albert Hall Museum, which we visited early in the morning, just after the birds woke up. This place is surrounded by pigeons which even further adds to Jaipur’s beauty!
Next up was Amber Fort. Guau! This place is just made for taking pictures! This magnificent fort and its impressive palace complex were built from pale yellow and pink sandstone and white marble. I strongly encourage you to approach the fort by jeep and skip the elephant ride as animals should not be used as a tourist attraction.
After delicious lunch that we were served in Amber Fort, we head straight to Hawa Mahal and City Hall for some more sightseeing and photography options. Jaipur is just full of them!
Day 3: Ranthambore National Park and Chittorgarh
The second day we had to wake up very early for a morning jungle safari at the Ranthambore National Park, one of the biggest national park in Rajasthan and home to tigers, leopards, crocodiles, monkeys and other (less exciting) wildlife.
The moment we entered the park we saw a tigress lying in the grass and relaxing. The guide told us how fortunate we are as the park is so large that the chance of spotting a tiger during your 1h visit is relatively low.
I couldn’t believe our luck either when the tiger decided to cross the path in front of our car, just like on National Geographic videos! Could this moment be any more perfect?
After this exciting tiger encounter, next stop on our Rajasthan itinerary was Chittorgarh, and it’s 7th-century fort. 180-metre uphill later we arrived at one of the best sunset spots in India.
Put this place high on your bucket list, and you won’t regret! I enjoyed a lot our sunset walk near the old temple, accompanied by a family of monkeys that was playing around.
We finished the day at light & sound show that gave us an introduction to Hinduism.
Day 4: Udaipur
If there was one city from the Palace on Wheels’s itinerary that I would like to go back to and spend more time in, it would be Udaipur. Unlike other cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is so peaceful and calm thanks to its picturesque setting.
As we were in Udaipur during the World Music Festival, our day was enriched with a morning tuk-tuk ride and a concert by the lake. After that, we went straight to Udaipur city palace – a palace complex considered the most significant of its type in whole Rajasthan.
It was so huge that I had lost everyone from our group in the first minutes after entering. The views from the palace are impressive but if you came to Udaipur to relax and unwind, the city palace is not for you. At least, it was not for me with the number of people inside! Fortunately enough, I have found my group and managed to escape the crowd just in time for lunch and boat ride.
As you may already know, I love checking the city from different angles. That’s why I was very excited for a boat ride on Lake Pichola. It is intriguing to see women washing the clothes next to the lake, kids playing in the water all in front of the beautiful architecture of Udaipur.
Fun Fact: Did you know that The Best Exotic Marigold hotel was shoot in Udaipur?
Day 5: Jaisalmer
To be honest, before my trip I haven’t fully acknowledged that there is a desert in India. As I dropped the pins on the map after checking Palace on Wheels itinerary, I got interested in the city called Jaisalmer that lies in the heart of the Thar Desert. The architecture of the town it’s distinguished by its yellow sandstone for which is named the “Golden City.” It is one of a few fortifications in the World which remains a normal city inside the walls. If you are a camel lover, just before entering the city, you will find the most friendly ones.
After a short camel ride and afternoon tea, we were transported back to the train to get ready for dinner. This was the first and the only night that we got to spend outside our train restaurant.
All dressed up, we headed straight to the hotel to enjoy local food and dance the night away.
Day 6: Jodhpur
Jodhpur is also known as a blue city because of all the blue paint that decorates the old town. On top of the hill stands, quite impressive, Mehrangarh Fort – that is where we started our day. A tiny elevator takes you up to the top from where you can enjoy the “sea of blue houses” that scatters without end.
After the visit in Jodhpur, we decided to split off from the group and take a tuk-tuk to the old town. We were thrilled about our decision as we managed to observe the daily life of Jodhpur residents and take some more pictures.
We still managed to get back just in time for lunch that was prepared for us in a deluxe resort. A refreshing afternoon swim was precisely what we needed!
Day 7: Bharatpur & Agra
Bharatpur is one of the finest bird sanctuary in the World. It is home to thousands of birds. That day we woke up at 5 am and equipped with our cameras we headed for some more fauna encounter. Even though I am not a huge bird fan, I was positively surprised with this excursion. Seeing the park in the morning, all covered in the fog, hearing the sound of birds waking up, made it a really magical experience.
I was waiting for this day from the moment we started our journey. I always wanted to visit Taj Mahal, since I was a little kid and saw it in a travel album that my mom bought. I thought it looks impressive in the picture, imagine my face when I saw it in real life! Yes, a total jaw-drop 😉
Taj Mahal was built as a symbol of love, in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, emperor’s wife, to host remains of her body. It is made of shimmering white marble that seems to change color depending on the daylight. I saw Taj Mahal during sunset and sunrise (I went all the way back to Agra after finishing my trip on Place on Wheels) and can’t decide when it is more beautiful. Funnily enough, there are always tons of people there, no matter what time you go.
I suggest looking at Taj Mahal from the mosque that is just next to the mausoleum. Not only it is beautiful inside, but it will also offer you a different angle for seeing Taj 😉
Palace on Wheels
Let’s talk about the train itself! Place on Wheels was launched in 1982 as a tribute to the tradition and luxurious life of the Maharajas. It offers 14 coaches with four twin bed ensuite chambers in each coach, two restaurants, massage room and gym.
There also is a personal attendant ‘Khidmatgar’ in each coach assisting the guests. You don’t know what is happiness until you get coffee and cookies straight to your bed in the morning.
Whenever I explain to friends my experience on board of Palace on Wheels, I always find myself talking about the service. Outstanding service is definitely what makes Place on Wheels worth the money.
From the moment we entered the station, our experience in India became hassle free. No more worries that your luggage is too heavy, that you need to stand in line, that you get lost or scammed. Just say the magical word “Palace on Wheels,” and you are the VIP.
While on the train, we were continually spoiled. The food was delicious, every night we were served about 12 dishes of local specialties, all made from fresh ingredients, picked up daily at the station of arrival. My favorite part of dinner was ice cream (different flavor every day) – I am still dreaming of it!
Kith, our assistant, was always taking care of us, bringing a blanket for the morning safari, getting us coffee and cookies in the morning and even helping me with dressing a turban. I got spoiled for life!
I have never slept on a train before, so I am sure Palace on Wheels was a great first experience for that! The rooms were equipped with two twin beds, a desk with table and wardrobe. In each room, there was a bathroom with hot and cold shower and radio.
I found the rooms quite tiny as we were two girls with just one wardrobe. A definite improvement would be to have windows that allow us to watch the outside while not being seen at the same time.
I am a heavy sleeper but sleeping on a moving train was a challenge even for me. I was constantly bouncing from one side of my bed to another. I guess good sleeping pills might solve the problem.
Taking into account the price (starting at 3500 USD per person in double room in low season), Palace on Wheels is not an option for everyone.
After the train ride, I revisited Agra and Jaipur on my own, and now I have to say that I wholeheartedly recommend Palace on Wheels as it is a great way to travel stress-free and have a relaxing experience in India.
Thank you, Palace on Wheels and Incredible India for inviting me to this experience. As always all opinions are my own.