Northern Railway's Delhi Cantonment Station provides the launching pad for some of the most exclusive and exotic railway journeys in the world.
The first is the Palace on Wheels tour. Launched on January 26, 1982, in association with the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, this luxury meter gauge train consisted of the personal carriages or saloons of the erstwhile Maharajahs of Rajasthan's Princely states. After running for nine years these coaches were replaced in 1991 by new air conditioned meter gauge coaches where the interiors were done up in accordance with the aesthetics of the old saloons. Subsequently, after completion of gauge conversion in the area, the Palace on Wheels was converted to broad gauge.
Today, 14 saloons and 2 dining cars, hauled by a steam locomotive, take tourists on a seven day tour to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Bharatpur and Agra. The train runs weekly from September to April. Originally designed for the foreign tourist, the train now attracts a number of local enthusiasts also.
For more details go to http://www.thepalaceonwheels.com
After conversion of the Palace on Wheels to broad gauge, the meter gauge train was transformed, in association with the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, into the Royal Orient - a luxury train for destinations in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The week long trip takes you in royal style to Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Modhera, Ahmedabad, Gir forests, Ahmedpur Mandvi, Diu, Palitana and Jaipur. The package includes travel, sightseeing and food.
The Fairy Queen is the world's oldest steam locomotive that is still in active service. Built in 1885, she worked trains on the East Indian Railway up to 1908. In cold storage till 1971, the Queen came back in to public life that year as the first exhibit of the National Rail Museum, New Delhi.
In 1996, the Fairy Queen was given a complete overhaul in the Perambur Workshops of Southern Railway to make her fit to haul 60 tourists in an air conditioned coach supported by a generator - cum - service car as part of a unique initiative to promote rail tourism.
On July 18, 1997, this redoubtable relic of the steam age carried the first tourist group from Delhi Cantonment to Alwar for a Tiger Safari at Sariska Wild life Sanctuary. On January 13, 1998, the Guinness Book of Records, certified her as the world's oldest working steam locomotive. On January 25, 1999, the Indian Prime Minister declared this the most innovative and unique tourism project.
The Fairy Queen runs week end packages during the winter, from October to March.
For information and bookings, please contact:
International Tourist Bureau,
New Delhi Railway Station, New Delhi 110 001.
Phone : 91-11-3345156,3346804.
Fax : 91-11-3343090.
National Rail Museum,
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021.
Phone : 91-11-6881816,6880939.
Fax : 91-11-6880804.