First day on Golden Chariot - The Luxury Train of South India

It was the day of Holi Festival and I started early at 3am for Bengaluru. I was full of excitement and everything went well and I reached Bengaluru by 9:30am. Now plan was to start at 4pm from Taj West End and I had whole day. Because of Holi I didn’t want to go out, but later got to know that Holi is not celebrated at that scale in south India.


It was the day of Holi Festival and I started early at 3am for Bengaluru. I was full of excitement and everything went well and I reached Bengaluru by 9:30am. The plan was to start the train journey at 4pm from Taj West End and I had whole day to spend until then. Because of Holi I didn’t want to go out, but later I got to know that Holi is not celebrated at that scale in south India. 


After spending few hours at Transit Lounge, I headed towards Taj West End.  Instead of taking taxi, I thought to explore the luxury buses which run between the city and Airport. After asking few folks, I boarded the bus and they said we will drop you from 2 km away from the hotel, which was fine as I had time. I reached Taj WestEnd at around 1:30pm. Till 4pm, I spent time at the reception reading ‘Know your Worth’ by Vibha Malhotra and N. K. Sondhi.

After spending some hours at the Transit Lounge, I headed towards Taj West End. Instead of taking a taxi, I thought I would explore the luxury buses which run between the city and the Airport. After asking around, I boarded the bus and they informed me that the bus will drop me 2 km away from the hotel, which was fine as I had time. I reached Taj WestEnd at around 1:30pm. Till 4pm, I spent time at the reception reading this awesome book Know your Worth by Vibha Malhotra and N. K. Sondhi.

At 4pm, registration for Golden Chariot started followed by high tea. This was good opportunity to interact with some of the folks who would be part of the journey.


At 4pm, the registration for Golden Chariot started followed by high tea. This was a good opportunity to interact with some of the folks who would be part of the journey. 

At 5pm, one of the chief gardeners of Taj took us on the tour of the property. He started with the fact that Taj WestEnd is oldest Indian Hotel which was started at hotel. There are can be other old buildings which are not hotels, but they were built for different purposes, like various havelis or palaces. He also showed us one of the oldest post-box which is still in use (see above photograph of oldest post-box). He seemed to be very passionate guy about plantation, green landscapes and very well appreciates the importance of natural resources.

At 5pm, one of the chief gardeners of Taj took us on the tour of the property. He started with the fact that Taj WestEnd is oldest Indian Hotel which was started as a hotel. There can be other old buildings which are not hotels, but they were built for different purposes, like various havelis or palaces. He also showed us one of the oldest post-box which is still in use (see above photograph of oldest post-box). He seemed to be passionate about plantation, green landscapes, and very well appreciates the importance of natural resources. 


Throughout the walk he showed us various old trees which are as old as this property. During the tour, we tasted tamarind which was plucked in front of us.

Throughout the walk he showed us various old trees which are as old as this property. During the tour, we tasted tamarind which was plucked in front of us. 


He also showed us one of the oldest terrace garden (the one you see in above photograph) on first floor of the property. It was amazing to see how carefully this whole property is maintained in the middle of the city.

He also showed us one of the oldest terrace gardens (the one you see in above photograph) on first floor of the property. It was amazing to see how carefully this whole property is maintained in the middle of the city.

Taj West End is surrounded by lot of forestation and you don’t feel like that you are in a city full of concrete jungles.   After the campus tour, GM of Golden Chariot talked about Golden Chariot, it’s route, a tentative schedule and what all to expect on the train and during 7 days tour in Karnataka. It was a good session to know about things and have right expectations.

Taj West End is surrounded by lot of forestation and you don’t feel like that you are in a city full of concrete jungles. 

After the campus tour, the GM of Golden Chariot talked about Golden Chariot, its route, a tentative schedule and what all to expect on the train and during the 7 days tour in Karnataka. It was a good session to set the right expectations

After the presentation, there was a cultural program where famous dance master Mr Satish Babu performed different forms of dance with one of his students Prerna. They started with Anand Tandava Nritya followed by Navarasa. Navarasa was very interesting where he showed various expressions used in dance forms and all these expressions are inspired by human behaviour in different situations.

After the presentation, there was a cultural program where the famous dance master Mr Satish Babu performed various forms of dance with his student Prerna. They started with Anand Tandava Nritya followed by Navarasa. Navarasa was very interesting where he showed various expressions used in dance forms and all these expressions are inspired by human behaviour in different situations. 


Then Satish Babu performed Deepanjali, wherein he was dancing with various lanterns on his head and arms, while dancing on a brass plate. Do check out the video for more.

Then Satish Babu performed Deepanjali, wherein he was dancing with various lanterns on his head and arms, while dancing on a brass plate. Do check out the video for more. 


And finally the performance was concluded with Tanjavur doll dance. I loved the doll dance and you must see the video of this.

And finally the performance concluded with Tanjavur doll dance. I loved the doll dance and you must see the video of this.



After the performances guests also got a chance to get clicked with artists. Richard & Bridget in above photograph with artists.

After the performances guests also got a chance to get clicked with the artists. Richard & Bridget in above photograph with the artists. 

It was time to head towards Iskon Temple. Before starting the journey, everyone goes to Iskon temple and Iskon Bengaluru is one of the important temples by Iskon organisation.   It started raining as we reached outside the temple, but it was manageable. As we reached closed to the entry gate, it started raining heavily and one has to go through open areas to reach main temple. All of us the group were brave to take the call that we want to see the temple. It was ok if we got exposed to showers but it was worth. As we headed back, some of us found that our shoes are wet. They were placed in common area just outside the temple. That was little disappointing for some of us. This event spoiled the mood of some co-travellers. This is was of my learnings from this trip, but why it was learning? I would be writing a separate post about learnings from the trip and how someone can get prepared when planning such trips. Also there was few things for Golden Chariot team. So stay tuned.

It was time to head towards the Iskon Temple. Before starting the journey, everyone goes to Iskon temple and Iskon Bengaluru is one of the important temples by Iskon organisation. 

It started raining as we reached outside the temple, but it was manageable. As we reached the entry gate, it started raining heavily and one has to go through open areas to reach the main temple. All of us in the group were brave enough to take the call that we want to see the temple. It was ok if we got exposed to the showers but it was worth it. As we headed back, some of us found that our shoes were wet. They were placed in common area just outside the temple. That was little disappointing for some of us. This event spoiled the mood of some co-travellers. This is was one of my learnings from this trip, but why was it a learning? I would be writing a separate post about learnings from the trip and how someone can get prepared when planning such trips. Also there are a few things for Golden Chariot team. So stay tuned. 
Everyone headed towards the bus which took us to Railway station and we got to see the Golden Chariot.  There were special arrangements for welcoming all the guests. As we reached, we realised that there was another big group who had come directly to the train.

Everyone headed towards the bus which took us to the Railway station and we got to see the Golden Chariot.

There were special arrangements for welcoming all the guests. As we reached, we realised that another big group had come directly to the train.

Everyone is supposed to sit in ‘Madira’ coach which is bar on the Golden Chariot. Everyone is allocated a room here with a quick briefing. It was little chaotic as number of passengers were much more than the capacity of this single coach. It was supposedly a cocktail evening, but we could really enjoy this gathering.

Everyone is supposed to sit in the "Madira" coach which is the barroom on the Golden Chariot. It is in this room that everyone gets to know of the room they are allocated. It was little chaotic as the number of passengers was much larger than the capacity of this single coach. It was supposedly a cocktail evening, but we couldn't really enjoy this gathering.

We checked into our rooms. I stayed in Kadamba-C. This was awesome moment when I first looked at the room. It was certainly out of the world. It was time to settle down a bit. The room had 2 single beds and I was the only one staying in this room.

We checked into our rooms. I stayed in Kadamba-C. The room was certainly out of the world. The room had 2 single beds and I was the only one staying in this room.  I kept my luggage there.



Room had attached toilet & bath, with appropriate essentials which you usually expect in 5 star hotels of resorts in India. All these rooms are air conditioned but there is central AC control for 4 rooms in a coach.



The room had an attached toilet & bath, with appropriate essentials which you usually expect in 5-star hotels or resorts in India. All these rooms are air conditioned but there is a central AC control for 4 rooms in a coach.


Dinner menu was awesome. Grilled pineapple & prunes salad was served, allowed with Mulligatawny Soup. In main course, there were two options - Thali or Cajun Grilled Fish with Supreme of Chicken in Black Olive sauce. Thali comprised of Men MilGU, Manguluru Chicken Curry, Dharwadi Bendekai, Mysuru Brinjal Curry, Drumstick Ulli Sambr, Tawa Chapati, fluffy steamed rice & Khajur, kale ka raitha. In desserts, there were 2 options - Tender Coconut Souffe or Julab Jamun. We took 1 hr to have dinner and it was lovely. It was sort of food meditation for us :).

The dinner menu was awesome. Grilled pineapple & prunes salad was served, followed with Mulligatawny Soup. In main course, there were two options - Thali or Cajun Grilled Fish with Supreme of Chicken in Black Olive sauce. Thali comprised of Men MilGU, Manguluru Chicken Curry, Dharwadi Bendekai, Mysuru Brinjal Curry, Drumstick Ulli Sambr, Tawa Chapati, fluffy steamed rice & Khajur, kale ka raitha. In desserts, there were 2 options - Tender Coconut Souffe or Gulab Jamun. We took 1 hr to have dinner and it was lovely. It was sort of food meditation for us :). 

After dinner, I had some work so sat in the restaurant to work till 12:30am. There is wifi on the train but only available in restaurants & the bar. There is no wifi in the rooms. This was also the time to interact more with Mr Mahendera Singh Rathore and Mr Abhijay Verma. These folks along with chief chef Mr Deepak Chaubey ensure best services to the guests travelling with Golden Chariot.

After dinner, I had some work so we sat in the restaurant to work till 12:30am. There is wifi on the train but only available in restaurants & the bar. There is no wifi in the rooms. This was also the time to interact more with Mr Mahendera Singh Rathore and Mr Abhijay Verma. These folks along with chief chef Mr Deepak Chaubey ensure best services to the guests travelling with Golden Chariot. 

Check out this place for more about Golden Chariot Journey.   -------------------- --------------------  If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -  - Manage your waste well and don’t litter - Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. - Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. - Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.  - Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

Check out this place for more about Golden Chariot Journey. 


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If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.

- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.


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Do check out this video, if you want to see how it looks from inside. 

Comments

Yogi Saraswat said…
Beautiful journey !!
Very immersive reading on your journey.��
VJ Sharma said…
Thanks Yogi and Arvind :)

Stay tuned for interesting travel stories from this trip.
Reetika said…
Well captured! It's anyways so interesting to read your travel blogs..

Inspired to take this trip. Thanks for sharing
Good stories, pls share more.
Antarik Anwesan said…
This is amazing. Have always wanted to take a journey on one of these luxury trains. :)
VJ Sharma said…
Thanks Reetika, Puneet, Narasimha and Antarik !

Narasimha - 2 more posts have been shared about Golden Chariot, so do check them and more will come next month.
shutterbugruts said…
Hi VJ,

As always your pictures speak thousand words. I like your experience with the food. It looked awesome. The train is so luxury and lovely I must say. Great article :)
beautiful train and each of your pictures had a their own story to tell. nicely captured.

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