Deccan Odyssey, a luxury train launched to promote Maharashtra tourism in a joint collaboration between the Indian Railways and state government, may start ferrying tourists again next year. The train service has been at a standstill for over 30 months due to the pandemic.
India presently has five luxury trains – Palace On Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Golden Chariot, Royal Rajasthan On Wheels and the Maharajas’ Express.
Deccan Odyssey, which is operated by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), takes visitors on ‘seven night-eight day’ trips across Maharashtra. In 2014, travel company Cox and Kings was given the contract to manage its on-board and off-board services, sales, marketing and operational activities for a period of five years. It subsequently went bankrupt. The train service was then shut down due to the pandemic. When it was operational before the pandemic, the Deccan Odyssey offered six different trips, each with an unique name. The price of the trips ranged from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh, depending on the travel package one selected. The MTDC said that while the older agreement has expired, it is reviving the train service and has appointed another travel company, Ebix Travel, to operate the train.
“Global tenders were floated and the operator has been appointed. Now, the operator is preparing the itinerary list so that the destinations can be finalised by MTDC, and the list can be sent to the Railway Board for final approval.” said Akhilesh Shukla, finance head of MTDC. Shukla said the train rake is being refurbished by the Railways as it has been non-functional for over two years. Officials said they are hopeful that the service will resume by early next year.
Deccan Odyssey initially covered various tourist spots of Maharashtra and allowed travelers to get a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of the state. This luxury train comprised 21 coaches, of which 11 were to accommodate guests and the rest were used for different purposes such as dining, lounge, conference car and health spa.
Deccan Odyssey later started plying to tourist spots across India, and will continue to do so when it becomes operational again next year.
Inspired by the imperial carriages used by the maharajas of yore for traveling, each of the coaches of this luxury train is inspired by a different royal era of Maharashtra, ruled by diverse dynasties.