Around the Deccan in Seven Days – The Five Star Life Aboard The Deccan Odyssey

The mystical Ellora Caves


The Deccan Odyssey offers you a memorable and comfortable way of touring if you have limited time. You pack in a lot in seven days. Most of the distances are covered at night while you are sleeping.

Luxury trains like this one are relics of the past. Indian nobility once travelled in this style. Abroad, the most glamorous of them all was the legendary Orient Express that steamed out of Paris, beginning 1883, and ended up in Istanbul in Turkey. It was the setting for a number of novels, including Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train. Both were made into films. The train was discontinued in 1977. Today, there is another train bearing the same name but with a much shorter route. It has neither the aura nor the glamour of the original.

You will find a number of European countries with upscale trains that cater to tourists. The Belmond group operates seven such trains of which the Grand Hibernian in Ireland and the Northern Belle in Britain are the most popular. Deccan Odyssey’s advantage over its European counterparts is the quality of service on board. On the trip I took, there were 40 passengers with a staff of 40 to take care of our needs. It is just not economically feasible for European trains to provide such personalised service.

The train’s design is a mix of opulence and heritage. The dark blue exteriors carry gold insignias of crossed swords, a nod to Maratha warriors of the past. The train is jointly owned by the Maharashtra Government and Indian Railways but they have wisely given its management to Cox & Kings, a highly regarded travel and hospitality operator that traces its history to 1758.

The last night was the gala night with dancing to Bollywood music in the bar. Ladies in saris and men in kurtas provided as keepsakes. The Turkish ladies had a flair for Bollywood-style dancing, no doubt learnt from our films.


THE TRAIN: The Deccan Odyssey is a luxury train operating on six journeys — Maharashtra Splendour, Indian Odyssey, Jewels of the Deccan, Maharashtra Wild Trail, Indian Sojourn and Hidden Treasures of Gujarat. Except Indian Odyssey all the journeys begin in Mumbai. All the journeys are for eight days and seven nights.

A dinning car on the Deccan Odyssey train

The train has 21 coaches, including two dining cars, Waavar and Utsav, two generator cars with luggage store, two staff cars, a spa car and a bar car.
Among the services offered on board are wi-fi, cell phones, channel music and also a beauty saloon.

SCHEDULE: The Deccan Odyssey usually operates between September and May. The next train is Jewels of the Deccan, which departs on October 8. It starts from Mumbai and travels to Bijapur, Aihole, Pattadakal, Hampi, Hyderabad, Ellora Caves and Ajanta Caves before ending in Mumbai during its eight-day itinerary.

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