Discovering India with the Maharajas’ Express
If you want to experience the best luxury train in India, the Maharajas’ Express could be for you. Tag-lined as “the world’s leading luxury train”, this well-known rail tour of India strives for greatness – and very much hits the mark!
India is a country known for its vibrant culture, flavourful food, and warm hospitality. There’s so much to discover, and such vast distances between it all, that planning a trip can seem like a daunting experience. Travelling on a luxury train with a planned itinerary removes any stress. All that’s left for you to do is sit back, relax, and experience India from the comfort of your beautiful cabin.
I spent a week exploring India on board the Maharajas’ Express, and it was the ideal way to discover the country. Here are some of the highlights from our tour, the “Indian Panorama” route.
Exploring the Pink City
The first stop on the Maharajas’ Express is Jaipur, also known as the Pink City thanks to its beautiful red-sandstone city centre. Highlights included the cake-like Hawa Mahal, an intricate, tiered building in the city centre, as well as a stop at the Water Palace at the centre of the Man Sagar Lake. Finally, we headed to the Amber Fort, for stunning city views and a glimpse into India’s long and fascinating history.
Ranthambore Tiger Safari
Day two sees the Maharajas’ Express arriving at Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. With over 60 Bengal tigers calling the park home, this is one of the best places in India to spot a tiger in their natural habitat. After an early morning coffee, we loaded into jeeps to head into the park. The sun was rising through the trees as we drove through the forest in search of tigers – as well as monkeys, deer, birds, and crocodiles.
Champagne Breakfast at the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is the jewel in the crown of any India itinerary, and it’s the first port of call on day three of the Indian Panorama tour. We explored the stunning mausoleum, learning all about its romantic history from our expert guide. After the tour, we were treated to a champagne breakfast on a hilltop facing the Taj Mahal. A truly royal experience!
Despite being over a thousand years old, the Khajuraho temple complex in the state of Madhya Pradesh has been remarkably well preserved. Intricate carvings still cover the sandstone temples, many of them depicting surprisingly erotic scenes or illustrating the Kama Sutra. Graphic or not, the artworks are beautiful, and Khajuraho is an eye-opening insight into a very different side of India’s culture.
Sunset Cruise on the Ganges
On day five, the Maharajas’ Express arrives into Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and one of the holiest places in India. After a day exploring the city, we stepped onto the top deck of a small river boat and set off down the Ganges at sunset. This is the perfect time of day to cruise the famous river, as this is when the daily Hindu aarti ritual takes place to bless and thank the Mother Ganges. Watching the ceremony from the water, the strength of the faith and love coming from the crowds on the river bank seemed almost palpable. It’s a very special thing to see, and incredibly moving.
The final night on board the Maharajas’ Express is a very special night. Every guest is given a sari, picked out by their butler, and an “Indian Night” party is thrown. Although every meal we had on board was incredible, the meal on the last night surpassed all the others in terms of quality and presentation. And after dinner, we enjoyed drinks and Bollywood dancing – an experience I will never forget!
Crossing India on board a luxury train was the perfect way to travel. From exploring new destinations every day, to simply sitting in the bar or in bed with a chai watching India’s gorgeous landscapes roll by, every moment felt like a dream come true. A must for the bucket list of every train-lover.