There are some doors that can take us to another realm and passing through some of the more magical ones may even transform us into something else – A Maharaja and a Maharani.
Without much ado allow me to accept that Maharajas’ Express does that to all its passengers. As a friend would say “Seeing is believing”, it sure is, there is no short cut to experiencing the Maharajas’ Express than to be on it.
It is beyond doubt the most luxurious train in the world, yes the world! In case some of us are more analytical – winning the luxury train segment of World Travel Awards for 3 years in a row and nomination for the 4th year too should be a point in case! More than that for the passengers there are features which make it exquisitely desirable – only train in the world to have non sliding doors, bath in attached rest rooms, 24 carat gold plated and patented cutlery to call out a few. It is indeed half a mile of an era that only Maharajas’ can relate to.
With its 2 restaurants and a common area, 2 well-endowed bars and some more common areas it is a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world (oh! they can print real size newspaper of your choice and language daily!) With well thought designs and an integrated look and feel to rooms, common areas and corridors; all carriages have a personality and character of their own. It is like they are representatives of the era when the princely states were at the pinnacle of their opulence. Pictures and artifacts maintain the feel of being in a palace and some almost seem to be waiting to come alive. It is almost an honour to be on the train itself, no amount of money can create the magic that the train and its staff do as a matter of habit.
The man behind it all is Sunil Tarneja, general manager, Maharajas’ Express. He brings with him a rich experience of managing some of the leading hotel chains which has helped the cause of revamping more than a couple of the largest base kitchens in the Indian railway network. He is a thorough professional with an eye for detail, instinctively precise and a wholesome team player. Chef John Stone is a delight to meet, the passion which he brings to work in even the simple yet very essential bits like cleanliness, procurement of material, storage, placement etc. is commendable and makes you feel that the food has not been prepared for guests but for family. To my mind, food makes the big difference in travel and in a great travel experience.
The lodgings are anything but simple. They are an elegant balance of age old regalia and the modern needs that we have in these times. Intricate details which cannot be put down in words have been attended to with marvelous panache. It is like everything has been thought of – the colour, design, motifs, paintings, bed sheets, furniture all are closely linked by a pattern or story or mystery. From carpet to ceiling it is all seemingly arranged for luxury and enjoyment. I am sure the travellers will not be able to ask for something which cannot be made available.