TCI launches 'The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey' luxury train Journey
Travel Corporation (India) Limited [TCI], the premier destination management company for India, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Nepal, today announced the launch of its luxury train journeys - The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey - offering Indian travelers unparalleled opulence and exclusivity via a unique and regal rail travel experience of India.
The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey, winner of Asia's Leading Luxury Train, 2010, and nominated for 2011, has been included in the "World's Top 25 Trains" by The Society of International Railway Travelers.
The exclusive itinerary includes some of the best monuments of the Indian sub-continent: the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora, Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and the like. Halts at Ranthambore, Udaipur and Jaipur in the royal state of Rajasthan, offer a delightful melange of culture, history and wildlife.
Commenting on the launch Mr. Madhavan Menon, Director, Travel Corporation (India) Ltd. said, "This is a key initiative in the hugely potential Indian domestic market; in sync with TCI's considerable equity in luxury leisure travel. The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey is a perfect blend of heritage, opulence and hospitality making for a truly exotic experience for the discerning Indian traveler at a price specially lau nched for the Indian domestic market."
With 7 day all-inclusive itineraries, guests could chose from Silver, Gold or Platinum class travel, each with a host of distinctive facilities. Sight-seeing is conducted via private chauffeur-driven cars for Gold and Platinum guests or on a luxury coach for Silver guests, assisted by English speaking guides. The internationally awarded and lauded train has 21 climate-controlled suites including 11 aesthetically appointed guest coaches featuring panoramic windows, twin/double cabins, with en suite facilities, channel music, telephone and round the clock dedicated valet service.
An array of activities and facilities include a world class spa, functional gymnasium, all day dining, courtesy a Master chef, and a well stocked bar. A key highlight is that onboard guest services, food & beverage, housekeeping and a world-class butler service are provided by the internationally renowned Taj Group of Hotels and Palaces.
The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey is akin to a luxury hotel on wheels; travelling at night while you sleep, so you awaken to a new destination each day. This unique journey is sans the hassle of airport security checks and hotel check-in queues, transfers, packing and unpacking- a welcome element of comfort and stress free travel. Thanks to the all-inclusive fare, The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey offers exceptional value for money and is the most convenient way to visit multiple destinations in India- in regal style!
The Thomas Cook India stock was trading at Rs.48.30, down by Rs.0.25 or 0.51%. The stock hit an intraday high of Rs.49.30 and low of Rs.48.
The total traded quantity was 0.69 lakhs compared to 2 week average of 0.91 lakhs.
Bangalore: Luxury train Golden Chariot is showing all signs of hitting
another roadblock: The government has served an ultimatum on the railways to
take steps to enter into a revised MoU with Karnataka Tourism Development
Corporation (KSTDC) to continue operations.
"The signing of a revised deal has been pending inspite of several
correspondences and meetings," chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda wrote in a
letter to railways minister Dinesh Trivedi. Gowda wanted Trivedi to address
the issue of clearing Rs 6.52-crore arrears to KSTDC and to consider the
luxury train project as tourism development and not a revenue generating
one. This would help in creation of thousands of jobs and growth of tourism
"The train's departure schedule is planned from September 2011 to March
2012. Bookings across the world have already been made. So cancellation will
cause irreparable damage to the reputation of the state and the railways,
which will, in turn, affect the project's credibility," the CM said in the
Gowda wanted the railways to honour the original MoU with KSRTC based on
the revenue sharing model.
MUMBAI: Extended monsoon has proved to be a dampener for tourists on the eve of Diwali vacation
as Central Railway (CR) has delayed the reopening of Neral-Matheran services which normally resume on October 16 every year.
Matheran Light Railway (MLR) services, popularly known as toy train, are suspended for four months at the onset of monsoon between mid-June and October 15. CR said the reopening of the service has been delayed till unspecified date.
A CR official said, "The train passes through hilly terrain and has to navigate many tunnels and curves. Inspection of the route has been delayed due to the extended monsoon. Unless track clearance is obtained, the service cannot resume."
The 19.97-km routes and has a gauge of only two feet. The line built by Abdul Hussain Peerbhoy on March 22, 1907 is a huge hit among the tourist because the journey because of its heritage value and the journey provides a breathtaking view.
CR operates 10 services on weekends and eight on weekdays. As many as 2,000 people approximately travel by this train daily.
MUMBAI: Thousands of tourists flocking to Matheran, the small hill station close to Mumbai, will soon travel by swanky new coaches of the toy train, with a 3D view of the hills, forests and wildlife.
The new coaches, painted royal blue and white, with to-and-fro destinations on it, will offer new retractable chair car style seats, arm rests, pleasant interiors, huge windows and a transparent roof.
In contrast, the old coaches, made of wood and metal, had benches, making the three-hour journey tedious, especially for senior citizens.
A Central Railway official said that following a successful preview and trial runs, work would be undertaken to produce more coaches, each costing Rs.2.25 million.
So far, the Kurduwadi railway workshop has built eight coaches. More will be added within a year.
Those travelling to Matheran by road, some 90 km from Mumbai in Raigad district, must leave their vehicles at a distance and then walk or ride a horse all over the hill station.
Discovered by the British in 1850 and developed thereafter, Matheran is situated around 800 metres above sea level, with lush greenery and cool weather round the year. The monsoons are said to be "magical".
It was in 1907 that Mumbai industrialist Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy built the Matheran Hill Railway. It was inspected by a Unesco heritage site team in 2009. Its status report is awaited.
The official said that after more safety and field trials, Central Railway hopes to put them in service by early 2012, to ferry passengers on the Neral-Matheran-Neral route.
Though the new coaches will provide more comforts and leg room, it would be at the cost of the total capacity.
For instance, in the old version, the first class and second class had a capacity of 24 and 30 passengers. In the new it would be reduced to 24 and 20 respectively.
However, there are plans to join one or two additional coaches to each rake to compensate for the reduced capacity of each coach.
At present, four rakes ply on the 20-km narrow gauge route daily. On weekends it is increased to five pairs daily to cater to the holiday rush.
The new coaches have been provided mobile charging facilities. The first class coaches have fans, seat covers and curtains to make the trip memorable.
By next year, Central Railway hopes to offer services with at least two sets of new rakes, each with six coaches.
The fare structure for the trains with new coaches has not been finalised yet. "The priority is to offer a comfortable journey to the people on this beautiful section," said a railway official.
CHANDIGARH: Traveling to Goa to spend the New Year vacation on the sun-kissed beaches there will get easier for Tricity residents as Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is slated to launch a direct train to the coastal state. The journey has been tentatively scheduled to start on Christmas.
Sources said that the route of the train was yet to be decided and would be finalized within a week to 10 days. They stated that the train would reach Goa on December 30.
Speaking to TOI, IRCTC chief regional manager R K Sondh said, "All formalities for the train are in its final stages and we would be able to formally announce it soon. It would a Bharat Darshan train and its journey would include travelling to various tourist spots along the route. We are in the process of finalizing the route and once that is done, various places where the train is to stop, would be announced."
He added, "We are also finalizing hotels where the travelers would stay along the way. That would be done in another week. It would be a sleeper class train without air conditioning and we will charge Rs 500 per day for the ride." Sondh added that after gauging the response for the train, authorities would look at adding the direct train to Goa to its list of Holiday Special trains.
Where & When
Arrival in Goa
'500 per day, plus taxes
Once the date of departure is formally announced, ticket reservations can be made at railway office in Sector 34 through payment at IRCTC website as well as by making an online payment directly into the corporation's bank account
Some officials at the local railway station were not entirely enthusiastic about the train. They stated that it would prove extremely difficult for IRCTC to find passengers for the journey
The Indian Maharaja, India’s first privately managed luxury train, will leave from Delhi to Mumbai on its signature 168 hours mesmerizing rail journey. This Indian luxury train covers some of the most fascinating destinations in India and includes a dash of wildlife, royalty, heritage, spirituality and contemporary during its 8 days long itinerary. The Indian Maharaja was also adjudged Asia’s Best Luxury Train by the World Travel Awards for the year 2010. The train with total passenger capacity of 88 offers two rail journeys. Whereas, one itinerary commence from Mumbai and cover Aurangabad, Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Delhi the other one traverses the same course in reverse order.
The Indian Maharaja is designed to recreate the luxury and elegance of the personal carriages used by erstwhile princes of India. Equipped with state of the art amenities such as restaurants, bars, WI-Fi internet, LCD televisions and even a spa and fitness center, the Indian Maharaja offers a royal journey drenched in opulence. Whereas the catering on board the train is managed by the Taj Group of Hotels, off train excursions are managed by the TCI, operators of this luxury train. Cost of all off-train tours including transportation, entry fee at monuments and guides are included in the fare.
There is a huge demand in the travel segment and luxury train travel segment has witnessed huge upsurge in demand which is evident in the fact that Palace on Wheels is almost booked 3 months in advance and other trains are also expecting good response for this season. While flagging off the refurbished Deccan Odyssey from Mumbai, a luxury train service operating in Maharashtra, the tourism minister of Maharashtra Chagan Bhujbal also hinted that the train will earn profit for the first time since its inception in 2009. With foreign tourist arrivals at an impressive 8.1% per annum and number of tourist crossing the 5.5 million mark, luxury travel niche in India is only expected to grow.
Luxury train travel has witnesses a global revival and luxury trains in India are leading the way. Designed to cater specifically the international tourists, these trains offer whirlwind tour across some of the most fascinating destinations in India in unparalleled luxury. One of the Indian luxury trains, the Indian Maharaja train offers such sumptuous journey which includes a dash of wildlife, royalty, heritage, spirituality and contemporary during its 8 days long itinerary. The Indian Maharaja was also adjudged Asia’s Best Luxury Train by the World Travel Awards for the year 2010. The train with total passenger capacity of 88 offers two rail journeys. Whereas, one itinerary commence from Mumbai and cover Aurangabad, Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Delhi the other one traverses the same course in reverse order.
The Indian Maharaja is designed to recreate the luxury and elegance of the personal carriages used by erstwhile princes of India. Equipped with state of the art amenities such as restaurants, bars, WI-Fi internet, LCD televisions and even a spa and fitness center, the Indian Maharaja offers a royal journey drenched in opulence. Whereas the catering on board the train is managed by the Taj Group of Hotels, off train excursions are managed by the TCI, operators of this luxury train. Cost of all off-train tours including transportation, entry fee at monuments and guides are included in the fare. The only disappointment of this season in luxury train segment seems to be the termination of agreement between IRCTC and Cox & Kings. Their joint venture Royale India Tour Limited (RIRTL) were the operators of Maharajas’ Express dubbed the most luxurious train in Asia.
Revamped Deccan Odyssey Flagged off by MTDC
6 hours ago
The train now has refurbished interiors and includes a spa, fitness center, lounge with library, beauty salon cum spa, business center, conference room, bar and restaurants as well as lavisly furnished cabins. “Guests have all the conveniences and services of a five-star hotel in the train. They need not look for hotel reservations or even travel arrangements for sight-seeing trips at every destination. MTDC’s services include all meals as well as air-conditioned buses at every stop and guided tours for guests.” said tourism minister Mr. Chagan Bhujbal while flagging off the train.
Deccan Odyssey was launched in 2009 by the MTDC in collaboration with the Indian Railways following the resounding success of the Palace on Wheels of Rajasthan. The train was aimed to target the foreign tourists for promotion of tourism in Maharashtra. The train also commands major following among domestic travelers. The itinerary of the Deccan Odyssey includes tours to Mumbai, Sindhudurg, Goa, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Chandrapur, and Nashik. The luxurious round trip on board the Deccan Odyssey last for 168 hours. Tariff of the Deccan Odyssey start from US dollars 425 during the peak season run. The train is expected to make profits for the first time this tourist season since its launch in 2004.
New luxury train to cover Sikh shrines
02:11 PM,Nov 22,2011
Beijing, Nov 22 (PTI) Indian Railways will launch a special train next month to cover various Sikh shrines in the country to cash in on the success of luxury trains on the religious routes catering to overseas tourists. The 'Takht Express' would be launched on December 23 from Chandigarh. It would cover six sacred destinations for Sikhs, including Amritsar in nine days, Rakesh Tandon, Managing Director of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) said here. Tandon was speaking at a get together organised for Chinese travel agents, media and officials of Buddhist shrines here yesterday to popularise 'Mahaparinirvan Express' being run on the Buddhist circuit in India and Nepal. He said the train covering Sikh shrines was being launched following the high demand for such trains in religious routes. The IRCTC along with the Indian Embassy and India Tourism department, Beijing, organised the event to highlight the popularity of the Mahaparinirvan Express among the Buddhist all over the world as it covered most important places sacred to Buddhism. Starting from Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi the Mahaparinirvan Express covers Budhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi, Sarnath, Lumbini, Sravasti, Kushinagar and Agra. The event was organised to mainly popularise the train in China which has a large number of Buddhist population. PTI KJV
Haulage Charges Drain Luxury Train Profits
It took the Rajasthan tourism department 13 years to ride into the black
with their 'Palace on Wheels'. Will the 'Golden Chariot', operated by
Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) in the state's
backyards, be able to break even before that?
Figures show the Golden Chariot has been unable to reap golden benefits for
KSTDC, with the luxury train stopping way short of the Rs 60-lakh mark per
trip, which it requires to break even.
Commissioned in 2008, Golden Chariot's 18 coaches fitted with modern
facilities, has seen a gradual dip in revenue collection over its three
years of operations.
In its first year, it had raked in handsome returns with 31 trips. The
subsequent years saw the trip count nosedive to 26 in 2009-10 and 19 in
A big deterrent in making profits has been haulage charges the body needs to
pay Indian Railways, said KSTDC sources. While the charge was Rs 23 lakh per
trip in 2008, a rebate was announced after three months and the amount came
down to Rs 18 lakh. After one year, charges were revised to Rs 35 lakh per
KSTDC's outstanding arrears to Indian Railways stand at Rs 6.52 crore
(including manufacturing cost). KSTDC is believed to have approached the
state tourism department to bail it out and the department agreed to a
bailout sum of Rs 3 crore. With foreign tourists comprising the bulk of
travellers, the luxury train only boasts of 40% occupancy per trip, bringing
in not more than Rs 40 lakh. "Add to that some domestic tourists who get
down after four days. Not always do we have passengers to fill in those
seats which contributes to the revenue loss," said an official working with
the luxury chariot.
"We have not been able to attract people. Marketing needs to be more
intense," said Sundar Naik, managing director, KSTDC. For this reason alone,
senior KSTDC officials are travelling to the International Luxury Travel
Mart being held in France next month.
"Bookings for the Golden Chariot are on for the current season (October to
March) and we are hopeful of finishing with profits," said Naik. The Chariot
sets out on its fourth voyage in a fortnight's time.
That Karnataka's tourist showpiece, the Golden Chariot, is running under
loss is not surprising. There is little hardsell of this exclusive train
which covers some must-see destinations across the state. KSTDC should
market it at forums both within India and abroad. The haulage charge is also
steep. The Railways should make concessions in the interest of tourism, or
KSTDC will be stuck with a white elephant.
Golden Chariot runs two packages:
Pride of South and Southern Splendour
Pride of South
Seven nights, eight days. Begins at Bangalore, covers Kabini, Srirangapatna,
Mysore, Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Goa
TARIFF Rs 1.05 lakh for Indians on twin-sharing basis $3465 for foreigners
on twin-sharing basis
Seven nights, eight days. Covers three states. Starts at Bangalore, goes to
Chennai, Puducherry, Kerala
Rs 1.68 lakh for Indians on twin-sharing basis
$3990 for foreigners on twin-sharing basis
80:20 is foreigner-Indian ratio of travellers
India selling unique Buddhist train tour
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Sat, 12/10/2011 1:35 PM
Indian railway representatives introduced the country’s railway tourism to the Indonesian market on Thursday, promoting in particular its spiritual Buddhist tour on the Mahaparinirvan Express.
“The Mahaparinirvan Express train goes on a seven-night-and-eight-day package tour, which covers traditional Buddhist places. It provides an exclusive, safe and comfortable tourism service,” Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTR) joint general manager for tourism Arun Srivastava said on Thursday.
Speaking at a presentation of the tourism service at the Indian Embassy, Srivastava explained that the Mahaparinirvan Express was a fully air-conditioned train tour.
The tour covers many important places of Buddhist interest such as Lumbini where Buddhism founder Siddhartha Gautama was born; Bodhgaya, the place Buddha attained enlightenment; Sravasti, the city that sheltered Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetyana Gardens; and Kushinagar where Buddha died and attained Parinirvana (Final Nirvana).
The train also made stops at other Indian tourism destinations such as Agra, where the infamous Taj Mahal is located.
The tour package, he said, included all train journeys, hotel accommodations, road transports, tour guide services, meals, travel insurance, security and monument admission fees.
The train’s cabins are divided into three air-conditioned classes: first class, second tier and third tier. The first class cabins, boasting two berths and a sliding door, cost US$160 per person per night.
Tier two and three, which have more berths and a curtain in place of a door cost $130 and $105, respectively.
Srivastava said that the facilities and services would be worth the price, as the trip would be a unique, exclusive and comfortable train experience.
“This is not a public train where people at stations can just jump on board. Only passengers who have bought the package are allowed to board the train. This is an exclusive train,” he said.
The tour period, which starts in October, provides 14 trips in a year. Last year, the tour attracted around a total of 2,000 tourists, from 35 countries all over the world including the US, Canada, China and Singapore, he said.
Manadimetta Michael, an Indonesian who has taken the tour, said that the Mahaparinirvan Express did have its drawbacks, such as lack of privacy in the small cabins, as well as limited meal choices. However, he hailed the trip as the best he had ever been on.
“Whether you find it pleasant or unpleasant, India is definitely the most enjoyable place to visit,”
While the religion was founded in India, currently only 0.8 percent of India’s population of about 1.2 billion is registered as Buddhist.
Bhubaneswar, Dec 10 (PTI) After being stopped for over one and a half years following the Jnaneswari Express disaster, train services at night would resume partly from tomorrow mainly for those passing through Orissa. Train services in Kharagpur-Tata, Kharagpur-Adra and Rourkela-Chakradharpur sections would begin from tomorrow night with safety precautions, said a release by the East Coast Railway headquartered here this evening. The trains carrying passengers would run at a restricted speed of 75 KMPH between 22.00 hrs to 05.00 hrs on these three sections during bandh called by Maoists, the release issued by the chief public relations officer said. Light engines or goods trains would run before trains carrying passengers or convoy of passenger-carrying trains during night as a safety measure, it said. Night services of trains was stopped since May 28 last year when 13 coaches of Mumbai-bound Jnaneswari Express jumped the tracks in West Midnapore district of West Bengal, shortly after which another goods train rammed into the derailed coaches killing 148 people. The 18477 Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express would run on its traditional route of Cuttack-Bhadrak-Kharagpur-Tata-Jharsuguda. The 18478 Haridwar-Puri Utkal Express too would run on normal route but the 08477/08478 Tata-Jarsuguda-Tata special train will be withdrawn from December 12, the release said. The 12802 New Delhi-Puri Purushottam Express will not be regulated at Tata. Similarly, 12816 New Delhi Puri Nandankanan Express and 12282 New Delhi-Puri Duronto Express too will not be regulated over East Central Railway and will run on its scheduled timings with effect from December 13.
Rajat Arora, Hindustan Times, New Delhi,
December 06, 2011
To explore the huge tourism potential
surrounding the nostalgia of steam
locomotives, the Delhi division of the
Northern Railways has planned to develop the
iconic Rewari steam loco shed as a tourist
According to the plan, a steam loco ferry
service from Delhi cantonment to Rewari,
Haryana, is on the anvil. The railways not
only want to attract local visitors but are
also banking on the foreign tourists. "We plan
to rent out steam loco trains to tourists and
expect a lot of foreign tourists to rent a
steam train. In Europe, this model is very
popular and we are trying to replicate the
same in,"ˇ said Vikas Arya, senior divisional
mechanical engineer and in-charge of the
"We'll be earning decent revenue by doing
that. Renting a train can cost somewhere
around R6 lakh for a run,"ˇ added Arya. A coach
lounge and salon have come up at the Rewari
shed and other facilities are being developed
in the area to make it tourist-friendly.
A steam loco museum and a small library have
been redone to showcase the 117-year history
of the shed. The full package, including food,
stay and sightseeing may cost travellers
around R10,000 each and one way trip can cost
around Rs 5,000.
Considering similar programs in US, the
price is comparable and reasonable. May I say,
NR can mae money of it is advertised properly
PATNA: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to conduct a tour package for Goa from January 7. The tour package will include seven nights stay in Goa for tourists. The IRCTC has fixed Rs 10,600 per person for this tour package.
According to an IRCTC official, the IRCTC will start booking tickets soon for this tour which will continue till February 25, 2012. The IRCTC has decided to take off for the tour on different dates that is January 7, 14, 21 and 28 and February 11, 18 and 25, 2012, from Delhi for the convenience of tourists.
The booking can be made online or by directly contacting the IRCTC offices, located in the state capital or in Delhi, on phone, he said, adding the IRCTC has decided to ensure at least four days stay near Colva Beach in Goa.
Trains rescheduled: The railways on Sunday rescheduled departure of Magadh Express (12401) at 8.30 pm from Islampur while Jansadharan Express (12387) was rescheduled at 4 pm from Patna Junction. Jayanagar-Amristsar Express (14649) was rescheduled at 9.35 pm from Jayanagar and Muzaffarpur-Bandra Express (19040) was rescheduled at 6.55 pm from Muzaffarpur, said ECR CPRO Neeraj Ambastha.
Now book your reservation in trains through a mobile phone. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a public sector undertaking under the Railway Ministry, has been offering the service of booking e-ticket over the mobile phones. After initial registration and downloading of suitable software on mobile handset with internet facility, it will be quite easy to book a reservation ticket through a mobile. Passengers have to register at the time of first transaction and thereafter book the ticket using their ID and password. After booking, the passenger would receive a reservation message with full details of the ticket including PNR, train no, date of journey and class. This virtual message will be treated at par with the print out of the e-ticket which at present is taken out by the passenger and is known as Electronic Reservation Slip (ERS), the Ministry said in a statement. Hence, with the virtual message, passengers would not be required to take a print out of e-ticket to be carried with them. The reservation message of the confirmed ticket on their mobile during travelling would be sufficient, the statement said. The detail procedure of booking through mobile is also available on the IRCTC website. UNI NY SW 1918
NEW DELHI: Holding that railways PSU IRCTC is the "absolute owner" of luxury tourist train Maharaja Express, the Delhi High Court has set aside its earlier order to the state enterprise to run it jointly with UK's travel firm Cox & Kings as an interim measure.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Siddharth Mridul set aside the court's single-judge bench order, saying it is of "prima facie view" that the interim arrangement was not justified and legally sustainable.
"This is the prima facie view we hold, (that) it is difficult to make interim arrangement and pass an order in the nature of mandatory injunction directing continuation of the earlier arrangement which has been terminated by IRCTC. After all, it is to be borne in mind that the IRCTC is the absolute owner of the train in question and the said train belongs exclusively to IRCTC," the division bench observed.
The court also brushed aside the Cox & Kings (C&K) counsel argument that it should be allowed to run the train jointly with Indian Railway catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd as the train had earned worldwide reputation due to the efforts of the travel agency.
"Maharaja Express has earned worldwide name and is one of the premier luxury trains in the world tourism. No doubt, that is true. However, that would not mean that C&K has acquired indefeasible right to run this train. Purpose can be served if the train runs as usual but by the IRCTC on its own or with the aid and addition of some other party," the court added.
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CHANDIGARH: The much-publicized 'Special coach to Goa from Chandigarh' returned to city railway station on Monday with passengers complaining lack of hospitality by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation's (IRCTC) aboard the special coach.
The coach was attached to the Kerala Sampark Kranti and left city on January 4. The 72-seat coach was booked to capacity and the train reached Madgaon on January 5. Passengers, who were taken on a Goa tour on January 6 and 7, complained that no food was being served to them on the train journey on both sides and the food they got by paying extra was sub-standard. Not only that, the boarding and lodging facilities were also equally uninspiring even though every passenger shelled out Rs 7,015 for a single train ticket.
Speaking to TOI, IRCTC chief regional manager R K Sondh said, "All terms and conditions of the train journey were explained to the passengers and they were made aware that we would not be able to provide food for them on the train rides. However, they had the option of purchasing food trays from the pantry car in the train. If that was sub-standard, then they should have complained to pantry car manager on the train itself."
He added that the staying arrangements were satisfactory and passengers were free to upgrade their arrangements, if they felt the need.
New Delhi - The Supreme Court Thursday said the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp will continue to operate the high-end luxury train Maharaja Express after the railways terminated its arrangement with travel agency Cox and Kings for jointly operating and managing India's first pan-country super luxury train
CHANDIGARH: The ambitious plan of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to have two coaches full of passengers from Tricity joint up with a special train from Amritsar to Goa at Ambala Railway Station has come a cropper due to a poor response from residents.
The train was supposed to run on Wednesday, but has now been cancelled.
IRCTC chief regional manager R K Sondh said, "The train has been cancelled as there was poor response from residents. In Amritsar as well as Chandigarh, there were hardly any passengers for the special train, though we had been publicizing the train from the middle of January."
"We now plan to attach special coaches with a train to Kerala, Kerala Sampark Kranti, in April, but its exact date is yet to be decided. Bookings for it will start from March-end and hopefully, we will receive a better response," he added.
The news of cancellation of the train has disappointed some residents. A few of them said the authorities should have gone ahead with the plan of two coaches with passengers from Chandigarh railway station and they could have been sent along with the train to Kerala.
Jagtar Singh, a resident of Phase VI in Mohali, said, "I plan to meet my relatives in Goa who have reached there from Mumbai. Now, I am going to take a flight to Goa because of this last-minute cancellation."
Priya Gupta, a resident of Sector 18 in Chandigarh, said, "I had taken 15-day off from work to visit Goa. But with IRCTC not going ahead with its plan, I am left with not many options."
MUMBAI: Angry villagers staged a rail roko and shut down shops at Matheran railway station on Monday afternoon for over three hours to protest against Central Railway (CR)'s apathy towards toy trains.
Tourism in the hill station has taken a hit after some of toy train services to Matheran were cancelled last month.
Around 1pm, villagers started protesting on the railway tracks and demanded a solution to technical troubles in toy train engines.
The protest was called off around 4.30pm after the Central Railway DRM assured Ajay Sawant, president of Matheran Municipal Council, on phone, that he will call a high-level meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue at his office in Mumbai. Services resumed after the assurance.
Sawant said, "The livelihood of nearly 10,000 locals depends on tourism. We have held several meetings with CR officials. The DRM also visited the station but no action was taken. This led to anger among locals and we decided to stage a rail roko."
"The tourist season has started but the number of visitors has reduced this year due to affected train services," Sawant added.
Ramesh Patil, a villager who participated in the protest, said it has been over a month since many toy train services to Matheran were cancelled. This, he said, is causing inconvenience to tourists in reaching the hill station.
VA Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer, said, "There were six locomotives for this stretch. Of this, one has been sent for period over-hauling before its scheduled date. Of the remaining five, two developed a snag due to which one service had to be cancelled. The services are expected to run normally from Tuesday."
CR operates 10 services on weekends and eight on weekdays. Approximately 2,000 people travel by these toy trains every day.
Matheran has been declared as an eco-sensitive region by the Union ministry of environment and forests. It is one of the few places in the world where vehicles are not allowed. Tourists can take a taxi or bus to the hill station but it costs more and people prefer the train, which takes them to the entrance of Matheran. From here, it is a 3-km walk to the main market area of the hill station.
Ooty, also known as Ootacamund, Udagamandalam or Udhagai is the capital of Nilgiris district in the state of Tamil Nadu. Nilgiris means Blue Mountains. It is famous as the Queen of hill stations and known for its numerous tea estates.
Hailed as one of the most popular tourist resorts in India, Ooty is also a land of picturesque picnic spots. This beautiful, small town is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. Lofty mountains, dense forest, scenic grasslands and miles of tea gardens greet the tourists here.
This hill-station used to be a popular summer and weekend getaway for the British during the colonial days. The town served as the summer capital of Madras Presidency in British era in India. Even the wounded soldiers of the British army were sent here to recover after a war. However, there is no historical data showing Ooty to have been under the rule of any Indian kingdom or dynasty. The closest relevance is given to King Tipu Sultan.
Ooty can be a fun place to shop, but nothing extra-ordinary. The main places to shop at are along Commercial Road where one can find Kashmiri shops, government outlets and Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan.
The chief thing produced in this area is tea and all variety of tea is available for tasting as well as purchase. Honey and organic products harvested by local farmers can also be bought from here.
Where to stay
Hotels in Ooty usually provide rooms with a beautiful view of the luscious green valleys. Everything from budget to luxury hotels is available in this small town. Budget hotels charge anything between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,800 for a double bedroom. Students’ dormitories are also available where the rates are reasonable for students.
Luxury hotels have rooms with a picturesque view of the entire city and the mountains. They also provide internet access.
Hotels in Ooty Powered by Expedia.co.in
Where to eat
Ooty is well known for bread, buns, cakes and handmade chocolates; it would be a good idea for tourists fond of tasting local cuisines to sample the local bakeries. Ooty people follow a typical Madrasi cuisine, but one can also find Chettinad cuisine, which is one of the spiciest and most aromatic cuisines in India. Try the Chettinad chicken pepper which is a specialty of the city. There are numerous restaurants in Ooty, mostly offering South Indian food, but some do offer North Indian stuff.
What to do
Touring the tea plantations and taking walks through gardens is one of the favourite activities of the tourists here.
Trekking is also preferred by tourists. Ooty provides a number of charming treks, some long and some short, into the adjoining hills. Winter is the best time to explore the natural beauty of Ooty through trekking. One can also trek to Dodabetta, the second highest peak in the Western Ghats. The peak lies about 10 km from Ooty.
A visit to one of the tea factories can also be exciting. The factories are well equipped, produce tea of different qualities and flavours and focus on a large international market. One should surely try the taste of the fresh, just made tea to have that essence of freshness.
Best time to visit
Ooty is a destination that can be visited all through the year, however, October is considered a good time for visit. Summers are pleasant, winters are cold, and monsoons are beautiful.
PATNA: Divested of catering services, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is now focusing more on online ticket booking system across the country.
According to a senior IRCTC official, the IRCTC has been making all possible efforts to expand its network in the private sector. "Efforts are on to link our services to airline ticket booking operation, too," he said.
The IRCTC official said that the railways online ticket reservation through the IRCTC site has increased to about 3,60,000 to 3,70,000 bookings per day now while it was hardly about 40,000 bookings per day in 2008. However, the IRCTC is likely to target about 7,50,000 bookings a day by 2015, he said.
Confirming the sudden rush on the IRCTC site for ticket booking either online or through SMS system, IRCTC MD Rakesh Tandon said that the IRCTC has meticulously planned to cope with the rush of customers on its site. "The IRCTC has managed to maintain its lead position in the domestic travel ticket bookings. But it is keen to make its portal a 'one stop shop' for planning tours and other services required by passengers while undertaking journey," he said.
According to sources, the IRCTC which is a wing of the Indian Railways, has already become an agent of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IRCTC has tied up with Air India and Jet Airways to provide services to an elite class of passengers, sources said.
According to an IRCTC official, the IRCTC ticket business accounts for about 40 percent of the total revenue of the corporation which is about Rs 550 crore annually. However, one of the major initiatives in reaching the goal would be to make fast bucks through SMS ticket booking service like online ticket booking system. The IRCTC is also planning to reduce the payment transaction time which is about 1.5 to 2.5 minutes per ticket booking online. The failure rate at the transaction stage is said to be about 20 to 25 percent only. But in the case of certain banks, the failure rate goes up to even 40 percent due to lack of 'state-of-the-art' arrangement between the IRCTC and a few banks, he said.
After successful launches of several tour packages to Bharat Darshan-Dakshin Yatra and Shirdi Dham in the past, the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is once again set to launch fresh travel tours to for the devotees to visit Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu. A person willing to travel to Vaishno Devi Shrine is just required to pay an amount of Rs 2,580 for getting seat confirmed in the special train which will depart from Varanasi and Lucknow railway station.
While the first tour would leave for Vaishno Devi shrine from Varanasi on May 25 and reach Kanpur Central railway station and proceed towards state capital to end journey in Jammu, the second travel tour for the same shrine would depart on May 31 from Varanasi via Lucknow route. The third tour and the fourth tour packages for Vaishno Devi have been scheduled in the month of June and will leave Varanasi railway station and proceed via Kanpur Central on June 12 and June 18 respectively. The fifth package for the cave shrine in Jammu would also proceed through the same route. The tour package has been planned for departure on July
BHUBANESWAR: The state government plans to tap in the tourism potential of famous Buddhist sites by asking the Indian Railways to run the Mahaparinirvan Express, a special Buddhist train, in Odisha.
"We are trying to convince the Railways to extend the Buddhist train's route to Odisha. If through, we can expect arrival of more tourists, particularly foreigners from Buddhist nations," state tourism director H S Upadhyay told TOI.
Sources said the department recently spoke with functionaries of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Railways, to explore feasibility of extending the train's route. At present, the Mahaparinirvan Express covers Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, connecting several Buddhist sites in Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Sarnath, Gorakhpur, Khushinagar, Gonda, Sravasti and Agra. The entire package consists of seven nights and eight days. Under the package, pilgrims are also taken to Lumbini in Nepal by bus from Khushinagar, the sources added.
"Odisha has several fascinating Buddhist sites such as Dhauli, Langudi, Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri. The government is taking measures to beautify those sites," Upadhyay said.
Sources said the Odisha chapter of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) had in the past demanded the government to extend the Buddhist train's route to the state. "It had been a longstanding demand. It is good if the state government facilitates extension of the train route. Since tribal tourism is in the doldrums, we need to tap the Buddhist tourism sector," Bhubaneswar-based tour operator Benjamin Simon said.
Even though thousands of tourists from East Asia, South-East Asia and Nepal visit Bodh Gaya in Bihar every year, the footfall in Odisha is abysmally poor. Sources said nearly 1,175 tourists from South Korea visited the state in 2009. A little over 3500 visitors from Japan toured Odisha same year. In all, 8,547 tourists from different South East Asian countries had thronged to the state in 2009.
Travel professionals faulted the state government for poor promotion of Buddhist tourism abroad. At a recent entrepreneurs' conference in Bhubaneswar, some tour operators from China and Japan expressed ignorance about the presence of a host of enchanting Buddhist sites in Odisha. "We had not expected to see those enchanting relics of Lord Buddha, huge monasteries, stone stupas, sculptures and images of Buddha and Bodhisattvas in Odisha," a tour and travel professional, Kiatfuengfoo, had told TOI.
The foreign tour operators had advised the government to organize road shows and travel fairs in Buddhist nations. The view was echoed by those in the domestic circuit. "Vibrant publicity and better air connectivity to South East Asian countries can bring in more visitors to Buddhist sites in Odisha," said Srimant Kumar Dash, president of India-Japan Friendship Centre, a voluntary organization. "There should be more interpretation centres at Buddhist sites. Trained guides and scholars should be present there to explain to tourists about the historical and archaeological importance of the place," Dash added.
NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways and the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) joined hands Thursday to improve tourism services offered by the two entities, drawing maximum advantage from each other's large customer base, expertise and network of facilities.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to this effect has been signed between the ITDC and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, according to a statement.
Among the popular services offered by the IRCTC are the Bharat Darshan tourist trains, Mahaparinirvan Express (Buddhist circuit special train) and educational tours for school children.
The ITDC has carved a niche in the production of packaged drinking water ( Rail Neer), e-tickets, cab rental services, online hotel booking services, budget hotels and online air ticketing. The company has been operating travel services under the Ashok Travels & Tours (ATT) brand.