As the only luxury train in South India, the Golden Chariot is really something special. The train has been awarded the title of ‘Asia’s Leading Luxury Train’, taking guests on an adventure around the three main states of southern India on an excursion-packed itinerary.
Operated by the State Government of Karnataka & Ministry of Railways, the train underwent refurbishment in 2020, and is now even grander with interiors modelled on India’s royal palaces. Start your day with a workout in the on-board gym or enjoy a massage in the on-board spa before exploring palaces, ruins, local villages and nature reserves. Operating week-long itineraries round-trip from Bangalore, this is truly a bucket list experience.
Prices from: US $8,400 for two people sharing a cabin
Departing from: Bangalore
Journey length: 6 nights
Golden Chariot routes
Riding on the Golden Chariot is a great way to explore the three main states of southern India like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala along with two union territories Goa and Pondicherry. The train runs two itineraries which depart either once or twice a month, the ‘Pride of the South’ and ‘Splendor of the South’.
Pride of the South takes passengers on a round-trip from Bangalore via the Bandipur National Park (where passengers can enjoy a safari), Mysore Halebidu and Chikamgaluru, Hampi for the Hampi ruins, Badami and Goa. Splendor of the South covers Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry, round-trip from Bangalore via Chennai, Pondicherry, Thajavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey and Kochi.
Golden Chariot train
Everything about this train is indescribably grand, from its striking royal purple livery to its interiors modelled on the early 20 th century Mysore Palace. Along with sleeper carriages the train boasts two restaurant cars, conference facilities, two massage rooms, a fully equipped gymnasium and a lavish bar and lounge car (called Madira). Modelled on the Mysore Palace, the Madira lounge is pretty opulent and has gold curtains, red and gold seating, mirrored ceilings and intricate lattice wall panelling, and drinks can be ordered from friendly and attentive stewards.
The two restaurant cars (Nala and Ruchi) are equally as grand, modelled on the interiors of the royal Hampi and Halebid temples. Two massage rooms for traditional and Ayurvedic massages are also on board, and, highly unusual for a passenger train, the Golden Chariot also has an on-board gymnasium. Internet connectivity is available via a USB-stick, and satellite antennae provide live television service in the cabins.
Much like the lounge and restaurant car, the compartments on Golden Chariot also take inspiration from some of the region’s most beautiful buildings, this time the intricately carved 12th century Hosalya temple. The train has 44 air-conditioned cabins in 11 inter-
connected carriages, and passengers can choose from one of 26 twin bed cabins, 17 double bed cabins or one disabled cabin. All cabins have a small wardrobe, vanity desk, flat-screen TV, plug sockets and a private en-suite shower room with complimentary toiletries.
Food and drink
The train has two restaurant cars catering to its capacity of 88 passengers on board, named Nala and Ruchi. In surroundings reminiscent of a royal palace, think white tablecloths, salmon pink curtains, carved wooden pillars and plush floral banquettes, guests can choose from a wide spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian culinary delights typical of the region.
Breakfast is always served on board, and lunch and dinner are either served on board or on-land as part of an excursion. Tables in the restaurant cars are arranged in groups of twos and fours next to the windows and guests can request special dietary meals when booking.
The Golden Chariot is an excursion train, treating passengers to some magnificent off-train adventures across southern India. All sightseeing tours and excursions are included in the train fare, and passengers can enjoy experiences like an evening safari at the Bandipu National Park, visit to the Mysore Palace, exploring the Hampi ruins and Badmani caves or visiting Goa’s museums and the churches of North Goa.
Excursions also happen during the evening, such as a visit to a local coffee plantation with coffee tasting and dinner and an evening of Bollywood entertainment followed by dinner in a top Goa hotel.
Dress code on the Golden Chariot
Despite the Golden Chariot being a luxury train there is no formal dress code. Guests should wear smart casual clothes during the day and make sure to pack comfortable shoes for excursions. We’d advise smart casual clothes in the evening.
Due to the price, passengers on the Golden Chariot are usually retired couples or people celebrating a life milestone like big birthday or anniversary. The train has a social crowd and passengers are encouraged to mingle in the restaurant and lounge cars.
As part of the package guests get accommodation on board, all meals, sightseeing and excursions by air-conditioned coach and all entrance fees for listed activities. The tariff does not include spa and conference car facilities, alcoholic beverages, laundry or gratuities. The recommended tipping charges are $125 per passenger for the entire journey.
Pros and cons
The Golden Chariot is a great way to explore the lesser-trodden states of southern India, with some seriously impressive excursions on the itinerary and the ease of departing from and retuning to the same location. Children between 5 and 12 get 50 percent off and triple suites are available for families. While there is no wi-fi, there is internet access through USB connectivity.