It was in the eighties when Indian
Railway and Rajasthan Tourism decided to work together on a project to
resurrect some of these forgotten symbols of its historic heritage. Thirteen
carriages from different princely states were brought together and
refurbished, and the Palace on Wheels was launched. A superb train that
evoked the past with modern facilities and created a journey that was on
offer to people around the world-wannabe princes who could be royals for
their week of the journey.
For, along with the restored carriages-some still glowing with their
original teakwood panels intact-came liveried attendants, royal repasts from
the attached kitchen, a lounge, and a dining car. The Palace on Wheels
become so popular and there is and would always be resistance to any move to
discontinue it. The result was a spanking new train that faithfully
recreated the old one, but much more comfortable, and intended to provide a
smoother ride. However, this too was on the meter gauge being used for yet
another exotic journey in the form of the Royal Orient Express that travels
from Delhi to parts of Rajasthan, but is used primarily to discover the
neighboring state of Gujarat.
The Palace On Wheels
started as a unique holiday train hauled by a steam
engine with its inaugural trip on 26th January, 1982. It started to roll on
its regular operations from October 1982.
The Palace on Wheels
, on broad gauge, is clearly the pride of the Indian
Railways. It is luxurious, and it is modern. The coaches have different
names derived from the former princely states and that provides the link for
the coat of arms and the decor inside. Within each carriage are comfortable
of showers, built-in wardrobes with full-length mirrors, overhead and
night-lights, piped music, service bells and public address system. The
rooms and corridors are carpeted, the furniture inlaid and upholstered
especially for the train. Blinds drape large windows, which frame views
across the desert and the passing arid landscape. At the end of each coach
is a lounge.