Tailor-made Tour 8 days from £4885 per person

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  Places Visited: Bengaluru, Mysore, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Thanjavur, Chettinad/Karaikudi, Cochin, Chertala/Mararikulam, Bengaluru

Named after the famous stone chariot at Hampi, the Golden Chariot, launched in 2008, is South India’s first and only luxury train. The modern refinement and traditional ways of hospitality has earned the Golden Chariot various accolades including the recognition as one of the seven best luxury rail journeys in the world by Vanity Fair Magazine within 4 years of its inception.

A Midas touch of heritage, royalty and cultural ethos manifests in the interiors of the Golden Chariot, a picture-perfect replica of erstwhile south Indian heritage and splendour. State of the art amenities and personalised service, provided by a dedicated team of butlers, aims to offer a one of a kind luxury train experience in India.

All 11 guest carriages flaunt traditional décor reminiscent of a particular erstwhile ruling dynasty of the south after which they have named. With a total of 44 cabins, all are fitted with facilities like LCD television, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a private bathroom providing cosy comforts to the guests. Other facilities and services provided on board include two ornately designed restaurants, a lounge bar, inspired by Mysore Palace, a business centre, gym and a wellness spa.

This 5-night tour allows you to explore the cultural heritage and natural beauty of different cities in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, travelling the large distances required whilst you sleep in the comfort of your luxury cabin. Starting and ending in Bengaluru, you’ll visit Mysore before continuing into Tamil Nadu to explore the temples and mansions of Mahabalipuram, Thanjavur, and Chettinad. Heading into Kerala you’ll spend time in the colonial city of Fort Kochi and enjoy cruising on the Kerala backwaters in Kumarakom.

Holiday Types

Cultural Holidays Wildlife Holidays River Cruising Holidays Luxury Train Holidays Family Holidays Honeymoons Beach Holidays Adventure Holidays


Suggested itinerary

Day 1

On arrival into Bengaluru you will be met by a TransIndus representative and transferred to the luxury Oberoi Hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and recovering from your flight.

Once a sleepy regional capital, Bengaluru (previously Bangalore) is the go-ahead, trend-setting capital of Karnataka state. As the home of India’s own Silicon Valley, the city has been at the forefront of the country’s IT revolution for the past two decades or more, and has a noticeably upbeat feel, with a hi-rise skyline of glass-sided towers to match.  Traces of Bengaluru’s pre-colonial past include a scattering of splendid medieval temples, among them the 800-year-old Dharmarayaswamy near the centre.

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Day 2

This morning you will be transferred to the train station to check in to the Golden Chariot. The train will depart towards your first destination, Mysore at 09.45. Lunch will be onboard before spending the afternoon exploring Mysore Palace. Dinner will be onboard as the train proceeds to Chengalpattu.

Mysore, the former capital of the Wadiyar Rajas, is by far Karnataka’s most popular visitor attraction. Unlike Bengaluru, the city seems to have been largely bypassed by the dotcom revolution and retains plenty of traditional charm, particularly in its markets, which serve as important centres for the trade in sandalwood, incense and hand-woven silk. The stand-out sight here, though, is the Maharaja’s Palace – a lavish, fairytale confection in the quintessentially Raj-era Indo-Saracenic style. Clad in 18-carat gold, hundreds of Mughal-style domes and Rajasthani cupolas crown the complex, which is illuminated every Sunday with 100,000 electric bulbs. It was built in 1912 on the site of an old wooden palace and boasts a sumptuous interior, including the famous ‘Thousand Pillar Hall’.

Much of its interiors were imported from different parts of the world, including England, which provided the vast brass gates that lead directly into the central courtyard from the gardens.  

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Day 3
Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram

Enjoy breakfast onboard as the train arrives at Chengalpattu Railway Station. There is an optional excursion this morning to Kanchipuram. Known for its many temples, Kanchipuram was once the capital of the Pallava dynasty and one of India’s seven holy cities. After lunch onboard, visit the monuments of Mahabalipuram before enjoying dinner at a beachfront hotel. The train will continue this evening to Thanjavur.

Thousands of years before the British first landed on the Coromandel Coast, merchants’ ships were setting sail from a city further south to ports as far afield as the Malacca Straits. Known as Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram), the town was praised by both Periplus and Ptolemy for its wealth and sophistication. Marco Polo enthused about the ‘Seven Great Pagodas’ that rose from its shore, a skyline hewn from solid granite by the Pallava Dynasty in the 7th century AD.

Numerous vestiges of this golden era survive amid the giant humpback boulders looming above the modern village. Ranging from shrines sculpted in the form of rathas (temple chariots), to mandapas (cave sanctuaries) and giant open-air reliefs, they include the world-famous Shore Temple.

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Day 4

Disembark this morning for a visit to the magnificent Brihadeshvar Temple. Enjoy lunch back onboard as the train continues to Chettinad. In the afternoon visit the Athnagudi tile factory and Chettinad mansions.

Completed in 1010AD, Thanjavur’s great Chola shrine recently celebrated its 1000th birthday. Its construction marked the apogee of Chola power and reflects the engineering prowess and artistic genius of the period. The shrine’s defining feature is a giant, richly carved sanctuary tower. Measuring 61m (200ft) from base to crown, the vimana is capped with an 80-tonne dome of solid granite that required a 7-mile-long ramp and team of elephants to install.

Chettinad’s caste of traders and moneylenders, the Nattukotai Chettiyars, grew wealthy in the 19th century, when they amassed vast fortunes in the British colonies of Burma, Ceylon and Indochina. The scale and sophistication of the mansions they built back in their homeland stand as testaments both to their business acumen and changing fashions in architecture. While outwardly following the European trends of their day, the houses adopted more familiar, traditional designs indoors.

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Day 5

You’’ll wake this morning to find yourself on the Keralan coast and in the port of Cochin. Visit Matancherry Palace in Fort Cochin followed by a traditional Keralan dance performance. Lunch will be onboard the train and there is an optional afternoon excursion to visit the Chinese Fishing Nets and St Francis Church. Dinner onboard.

For centuries the hub of India’s spice and tea trade, Fort Cochin occupies the northern tip of a peninsula dividing the mouth of the Vembanad Lake from the Arabian Sea. Its low-rise, red-tiled skyline bears the imprint of its former colonial residents: Lusitanian chapels, Jewish synagogues, Dutch burghers’ houses, Armenian mansions, and British bungalows and godowns (warehouses) all survive in the Fort’s grid of narrow lanes – the largest collection of early colonial buildings in Asia

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Day 6

Today you will spend the day cruising the Keralan backwaters aboard a houseboat. Enjoy a delicious lunch onboard as you witness life on the backwaters. Return to the train this evening for dinner on board as the train makes its way back to Bengaluru.

Until the 1980s, large barges made of oiled jackwood and canopies of plaited palm leaves were used throughout the Kuttinad region of Kerala to transport rice and other produce through the backwaters. Now, trucks do the haulage work, but the boats – known as Kettu Vallam in Malayali – have been put to more lucrative uses, taking visitors on cruises around the canals, rivers and lagoons of this fascinating region, where most of the population still live in island villages.

One thing that changes little over time, is everyday life in the backwaters. Villagers still bathe and wash their clothes from steps on the riverbanks, and travel around in canoes. Floating duck farms with thousands of birds being herded by a man paddling a dugout are a common sight, as are locals fishing for crab and the other backwater delicacies that make Kuttinadi cuisine one of the most varied and succulent in India.

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Day 7

Your journey ends today as you arrive back into Yeshwantpur Railway station in Bengaluru. You will be met by a TransIndus representative and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Known as ‘The Garden City’ in British times, Bengaluru also has some pleasant parks where you can escape the traffic. Created in 1760 by Sultan Haider Ali and later enlarged by experts from Kew, the Mughal-inspired Lalbagh Botanical Gardens hosts regular flower shows in its giant glass house, modelled on London’s Crystal Palace.

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Day 8
Bengaluru, UK

Transfer to the airport for your return flight.

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Tailor-made Tour 8 days from £4885 per person

What's included

✓  Five nights’ luxury accommodation aboard the Golden Chariot, two nights at a five-star hotel in Bengaluru. 

✓  All internal transportation and transfers in private chauffeur drive vehicles

✓  Expert English-speaking guides throughout

✓  Entrance fees to sites and monuments featured

✓  Meal Plan: Full Board à La Carte service onboard the train and Bed & Breakfast in Bengaluru.

✓   International Flights: We will be happy to organise international flights in economy or business class at a supplementary cost.

Places and Experiences in this tour

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