Royal Rajasthan on Wheels to offer regal sojourn (Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) A regal train journey par excellence across the land of Maharajas in western India would be on offer from December with the launch of Royal Rajasthan on Wheels. This train, according to the Rajasthan Tourism Department, will be a landmark in terms of comfort, luxury and service. It will also provide an alternative to the Palace on Wheels, which is already booked till 2010.

The luxury journey comes with a tariff tag of $2,000 for super deluxe rooms per suite per person, $1,200 for a deluxe saloon single supplement, $800 for twin sharing of deluxe saloon plus taxes - a notch higher than its forerunner Palace on Wheels, India’s first luxury train which had tariffs starting at $400.

The Royal Rajasthan on Wheels will have a seating capacity of 82 and will have two super deluxe suites, 13 deluxe saloons, two restobars, international spa facilities, improved water supply and storage, boardroom and internet facilities.

The train has added another tourist destination - Bikaner, well known for camel racing, trade, lake and archaeology - to the route that traces the itinerary of Palace on Wheels across Rajasthan.

The train, to be launched in the first week of December, will start its weeklong sojourn from New Delhi and return there after visiting Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Bharatpur and Agra.

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is estimated to cost the state government Rs.400 million in its initial stage.

The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) has estimated that the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels also is estimated to bring profits of about Rs.120 million in its first year. In comparison, its predecessor Palace on Wheels made a profit of Rs.85 million last year.

In the past four years, Rajasthan has witnessed a jump in tourist arrivals - both foreign and domestic. While the foreign arrivals went up from 6,29,000 in 2003 to 1.4 million in 2007, the domestic tourism numbers leapfrogged from 12.54 million to 25.92 million in the same period.

This, according to the state tourism department, is thanks to systematic investment of Rs.1.28 billion in conservation, restoration and development of monuments, forts, palaces, step-wells, heritage hotels, upgradation of tourist centres, landscaping works and rural tourism projects.

Rajasthan Minister of State for Tourism Usha Punia told IANS: “The state of Rajasthan is vibrant with its colours and desert, well known for its wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, adventure and living traditions. Add to those handicrafts, shopping and it becomes a tourist marvel.

“We are in the process of promoting and outsourcing desert adventure sports, and encouraging medical tourism - ayurvedic and spa treatments which the foreigners are partial to,” she said here Monday.

“In fact, there is a lot being done in the ambit of rural tourism. Culture, costumes, language, food and hospitality in every region in Rajasthan differs from place to place. We are getting not only local artisans and folk exponents to the forefront, but also involving villagers to adopt these visiting tourists and share cultures,” Punia added.

The department has plans to jazz up the nightlife with cultural events like Jaipur-by-Night and a sound and light show at the Amber Palace.

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