The Golden Chariot Bags Asia’s Leading Luxury Train Award at WTA 2013

India did not stay behind to shine in the list of Asia Winners 2013. The Golden Chariot was voted by travel agents worldwide and announced as the Asia’s Leading Luxury Train 2013 at the 20th World Travel Awards. Other luxury trains nominated for the same category were Deccan Odyssey, Eastern & Oriental Express, Maharajas’ Express, Palace on Wheels, and The Indian Maharaja. Apart from this, the train was also nominated for the 2013 World’s Leading Luxury Train.

Indian Luxury Trains world travel awards

 

Other Asia Winners 2013 from India are:

  • India – Asia’s Leading Destination
  • Trident Gurgaon, India – Asia’s Leading Hotel
  • Maharajah’s Pavilion, The Raj Palace, India – Asia’s Leading Hotel Suite
  • The Oberoi Gurgaon, India – Asia’s Leading Luxury Hotel
  • The Golden Chariot – Asia’s Leading Luxury Train
  • Incredible India – Asia’s Leading Tourist Board

La Cigale Hotel (Doha, Qatar) hosted the glittering ceremony of the 2013 World Travel Awards Grand Final on 30th November 2013. To celebrate the leading travel and tourism brands, the ceremony was attended by some industry’s elite such as CEOs of leading travel companies, tourism board chiefs, government ministers, and guests of honor HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority and Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani.

At the award ceremony, India also benchmarked its presence in the travel and tourism Industry by bagging some of the prestigious awards. ‘Incredible India’ was awarded as the World’s Leading Tourist Board, 2013.  On the other hand, ‘The Raj Palace, India’ also won the World’s Leading Heritage Hotel, 2013 and ‘Maharajas Express’ also bagged the award for World’s Leading Luxury Train, 2013, for the 2nd consecutive year.

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Top 5 Hill Stations in South India

The southern region of India is praised for its unspoilt beauty and natural setting. There also are numerous hill stations that are renowned to be the best travel destinations for leisure travelers.

Along with the vivid colors of nature, travelers can also visit architectural attractions such as temples, caves, monuments, etc.

Here is a small list of top five selective hill stations of South India that you should must visit.

Ooty

Ooty Hill Station
Ooty (Tamil Nadu), “the queen of hills”, is fair enough to be on the list of top five hill stations of South India. The natural beauty, pleasant climatic conditions and numerous tourist attractions make it a sought-after travel destination in India. During the months of summer, Ooty is flocked by tourist from all parts of the world. Doddabetta, the highest peak in Nilgiri, is one of the major attractions in Ooty. Moreover, there also are attractions such as The Government Botanical Garden, Lake View, Pykara, beautiful tea plantations, etc. The rich flora and fauna could also be spotted in Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.

Munnar

Munnar Hill Station
Munnar (Kerala) is a beautiful and an incredible hill town in South India. The congregation of three mountain streams, namely Mudrapuzha, Kundala and Nallathanni., bestow the place with an unspoilt beauty. There also are beautiful lakes where nature lovers can spend some time in adoring the nature and settlement. Tourists can also add the element of thrill and excitement via various activities such as Paragliding. Some of the other tourist attractions in Munnar are a Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, Evarikulam National Park, The Christ Church, and Mudapetty Dam.

Idukki

Idukki Hill Stations
Idukki (Kerala) is regarded as a nature blessed hill town of South India. The wildlife sanctuaries, mountain trekking, elephant rides, etc., are some of the attributes that make this hill town a sought-after destination. Thus, Along with nature lovers, adventurous travelers also feel attracted to this hill town. The lush green forests also add to the beauty of the place. Moreover, the place also offers some of the heart-throbbing scenic views of the surrounding.

Coorg

coorg hill stations
The old-world charm of the Coorg (Karnataka) has attracted tourists from all parts of the world. The peacefulness of the place and natural setting is adored by visitors. Tourist attractions such as Iruppu Falls, Abbey Falls, Madikeri Fort, and Raja’s Seat, also make this place worth a visit. Moreover, Coorg is also a favorite destination for wildlife enthusiasts as it features Nagarhole National Park.

Coonoor

Coonoor Hill Station
Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) is located at a very short distance from Ooty. For a memorable trip, tourists at times combine both the destinations in their itinerary. Coonoor is majorly famous for its tea gardens. Moreover, tourists can also visit attractions such as Sim’s Park, Pomological Station, Pasteur Institute, Law Falls and Lamb’s Rock.

Top 5 Must See Tourist Places in South India

The distinctive culture is one major attribute that distinguishes South India from other regions of the country. Apart from this, every state in South India upholds a distinctive identity.

The architectural brilliance is also witnessed in south India and the same is reflected in intricate temples. The visitors could also find historical ruins, hills, palm fringed canals, and beach to explore and make the south India tour interesting. So, get ready to explore the distinctive South India and do not miss to visit these top 5 tourist places.

1. Hampi

Hampi

The historical significance makes Hampi a must visit destination in South India. Hampi served as the last capital of the greatest Hindu empires, Vijayanagar. The ruins of the past are extremely captivating and date back to the 14th century.

Hampi extended over 10 miles (25 km) and consists of more than 500 monuments. The visitors could feel an incredible energy here. Moreover, Hampi is also a great getaway from Goa.

2. Fort Kochi

Santa Cruz Basilica-Fort Kochi

Kochi is perfectly dubbed as ‘Gateway to Kerala’, and is praised for its eclectic influence. The city reflects the imprints of British, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese invaders. The visitors distinguish Kochi from the Chinese fishing nets at the waterfront.

The structures holding architectural and historical significance also make Kochi a must visit destination in South India. For the best experience, it is advisable to explore Kochi on foot. Further, to make the trip worthy, you may enjoy traditional Kathakali dance or get pampered with an Ayurvedic treatment.

3. Kerala Backwaters

Kerala_backwater

Kerala is a must visit destination for travelers looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. Houseboat trip along the backwaters is one of a kind experience. As the houseboat sails across the palm-fringed Kerala canals, delicious Indian food and chilled beer are also served onboard to make the trip memorable for the guests.

4. Varkala

Varkala_Beach

The breathtaking Varkala beach in Kerala has left the visitors spellbound. The stretch of cliff and panoramic views of the Arabian Sea are fascinating elements that make surroundings pleasant.

One could find coconut palms bordering the cliff, quaint shops, hotels, beach shacks, and guest houses. Varkal beach is also listed as the best beach of India. Temple festivals, celebrated during late March – early April, is very popular and worth attending.

5. Madurai

Madurai

Meenakshi Temple, the most important and impressive temple, makes Madurai a must visit travel destination in South India. The existence of the city dates back to more than 4,000 years old. Since then, the city is renowned as a major center for learning the Tamil culture.

Various magnificent temples and structures were built during the rule of Nayak Dynasty. The footfall in Madurai is high due to tourists and pilgrims flocking from all parts of the world. During April each year, the 12-day Chithirai Festival is held in Madurai. This festival features a re-enacted celestial wedding of God and Goddess.

10 Things To Know About The Golden Chariot

The Golden Chariot is one of the popular Indian luxury trains, known for providing a conventional travel experience to the guests. The train is functional and covers some of the major destinations of South Indian States namely Goa and Karnataka. The train gets its name from a famed Stone Chariot at Hampi in Vitthala Temple. There are 19 coaches, colored gold and purple with a unique logo consisting of a mythological animal having a body of a lion and the head of an elephant.

Golden Chariot Train

On 10th March, 2008, the golden Chariot had its first journey. The train operates weekly and travels through various popular destinations, keeping the element of royalty throughout the journey. Inspired from the India’s first luxury train, Palace On Wheels, the Golden Chariot has all modern facilities and services onboard to meet the satisfaction level of the guests. The train is a joint initiative made by the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) and KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation). The Mapple Group is assigned to maintain hospitality services onboard.

1. History

After the success of Palace on Wheels, the KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism and Development Corporation) and IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) signed the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) in the year 2002. Further, to design the luxury train. ICF (Integral Factory Coach) was assigned with the task. Almost after 900 layouts, a design was finalized.

To complete the railway coaches according to the design, the Architect Kusum Pendse worked inexorably with 200 carpenters. After diligent work of almost 4 months, on 23rd January 2008, the Golden chariot was ready to be launched on the track and spread its golden and violet colors. On 10th March 2008, The Golden Chariot enjoyed its maiden journey starting from Bangalore to Goa.

2. Facilities

Golden Chariot Facilities

There are 11 coaches, each with 4 cabins, resulting in 44 cabins in total. Each coach is named after the dynasties that ruled in Karnataka and were known for their royalty. There are coaches named as Hoysala, Chalukya, Sangama, Vijayanagar, Bahamani, Yadukula, Rashtrakuta, Kadamba, Ganga, Adil Shahi, and Satavahana.

The guests are also facilitated with 2 restaurants onboard along with a lounge bar, conference, spa and gym facilities. The golden chariot also offers luxury facilities along with modern facilities such as Wi-Fi connectivity, satellite television, etc.

3. Passengers

The guests onboard are more often natives of the USA, Japan, Germany, UK, and France. The Train is designed to accommodate about 88 passengers.

4. Cabins

The 44 cabins of the Golden Chariot are categorized to meet the specific requirements of the guests onboard. The categories are:

  • 26 Twin Bed Cabins
  • 17 Double Bed Cabins
  • 1 Cabin for the Physically Challenged

Twin Bedroom on Borad The Golden Chariot

The carvings on the wall panels, ceilings, and furniture reflect the architecture of Mysore and Hoysala. Each cabin is equipped with all modern facilities and services such as WI-FI internet, writing desk, central air conditioning, wardrobe, satellite LCD television, and more.

5. Dining

To serve some of the delectable cuisines to the guests onboard, there are two multi-cuisine restaurants, serving both non-vegetarian and vegetarian cuisines.

  • Nala
  • Ruchi

Golden Chariot Dining Car
The names of the restaurants are inspired from the Indian mythological texts. Nala was a chef and a legendary king during the time of the Mahabharata, and Ruchi is a Sanskrit term which means fine taste. Apart from this, the interiors also reflect the Hampi and Halebidu style of architecture.

6. Lounge Bar

The Golden Chariot is also praised for on-site lounge bar:

  • Madira

The bar is well-stocked with an array of international spirits and wines. The interior is inspired from the majestic Mysore Palace.

Golden Chariot Lounge Bar

7. Conference Car

Golden Chariot Conference Car

The luxury train is also praised for the conference car onboard that has the capacity to accommodate about 30 guests at a time. The car is also backed with modern facilities and exceptional services that make the journey comfortable and memorable for the guests onboard.

8. Health & Recreation

The Golden Chariot is also known for providing excellent Health and recreational facilities onboard.

  • Nirvana Spa

Modern Spa with Traditional Treatment Inside The Golden Chariot

The spa is praised for providing excellent Ayurvedic and Spa Therapies. All modern gymnasium equipments are also available in the recreational coach.

9. Destinations

The luxury train Golden chariot has two different itineraries namely Splendor of the South and Pride of the South.

Golden Chariot Destinations

  • Splendor of the South: This is an itinerary of 8 days and 7 nights that covers some of the major destinations from Bangalore to Chennai, Pondicherry, Tanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey, and Kochi. The itinerary starts and ends in Bangalore.
  • Pride of the South: This is an itinerary of 8 days and 7 nights that covers some of the major destinations from Bangalore to Kabini, Srirangapatnam, Mysore, Shravanabelagola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Goa.

10. Tour Facilitators

To help the travelers enjoy the luxury travel, there are various tour operators and travel agents, involved in providing confirmed booking. There also are websites through which online booking is also available for Golden Chariot Journey.

Contributed by:-  Neelam Talreja