The Golden Chariot
|The Golden Chariot|
Logo of The Golden Chariot
|Built at||Integral Coach Factory, Chennai|
|Family name||Luxury Trains|
|Operator||Indian Railways and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC)|
|Line(s) served||Bangalore-Mysore-Hassan-Hospet-Badami-Vasco (Goa)-Bangalore (South Western Railway)|
The Golden Chariot is a luxury tourist train that connects the important tourist spots in the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala & Tamil Nadu as well as Pondicherry, depending on the selected itinerary. It is named after the Stone Chariot in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi. The 19 coaches on the train are coloured purple and gold, and sport the logo of a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion. The Golden Chariot is operating between the months of October–March for 2013/14 season with a departure every week, on Monday and had its maiden commercial run on March 10, 2008.
The train, along with the Deccan Odyssey, is designed on the lines of the more popular Palace on Wheels with accommodations, spa treatments and dining. It has been awarded the title of "Asia's Leading Luxury Train" at World Travel Awards, 2013 The train is operated by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and The Maple Group handles the hospitality services on the train.
When the success of Palace on Wheels reached the corridors of the Karnataka State Tourism and Development Corporation (KSTDC), it resulted in the signing of MOU between the state tourism board and the Indian Railways in 2002. Later the Integral Factory Coach (ICF) was assigned with the task to give shape to this luxury train. Around 900 layouts were prepared by the engineers before finalizing the design. Architect Kusum Pendse along with 200 carpenters inexorably worked hard to complete the designs of these railway coaches. The process took around 4 months. Finally on 23 January 2008, Golden Chariot was unveiled on the tracks veneered in classic colors of purple and gold symbolizing elegance and golden jubilee celebration of Karnataka. An inauguration ceremony was organized at the Yeshwanthpur Railway Station wherein president Pratibha Devi Singh flagged off the train. Finally on 10 March 2008, Golden Chariot chugged on its maiden journey from Bangalore to Goa.
The Golden Chariot offers accommodation in 44 cabins in 11 coaches that are named after dynasties that ruled the region: Kadamba, Hoysala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahamani, Adil Shahi, Sangama, Satavahana, Yadukula and Vijayanagar. It also has two restaurants, a lounge bar, and conference, gym and spa facilities. It has onboard internet connectivity via an USB-stick, and satellite antennae providing live television service in the cabins.
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Recreating the architectural aesthetics of erstwhile south Indian dynasties are the 44 guest cabins categorized as 26 twin bed cabins, 17 double bed cabins and 1 cabin for the physically challenged. The carvings on the ceilings, wall panels and furniture are inspired from the Hoysala and Mysore architectural movement. State of the art amenities are available such as internet (USB stick provided), LCD television with satellite channels, writing desk, wardrobe and central air conditioning.
Golden Chariot features two multi-cuisine restaurants—Nala and Ruchi—serving a buffet spread of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. The names of both these restaurants draw inspiration from the Indian mythological texts and their interiors are reminiscent of Halebidu and Hampi architectural style. While Nala was a legendary king and a chef in the days of Mahabharata, Ruchi is a Sanskrit word meaning fine taste.
The on-site lounge bar—Madira—is stocked with an assortment of international wines and spirits. The interiors of this lounge bar draw inspiration from the aesthetics of the Mysore palace.
The conference car on board the Golden Chariot offers a seating capacity of 30 guests in all. The car is equipped with modern technology such as 42 inch LCD television, and audio-visual equipment.
Health and Recreation
The ‘Nirvana Spa’ housed on board Golden Chariot offers holistic wellness through an array of Ayurvedic and spa therapies. The recreational coach also comprises a fully equipped gymnasium.
The Golden Chariot offers 2 itineraries. The itineraries are named Pride of the South and Splendor of the South.
Pride of the South
Pride of the South tour is a 7 nights and 8 days itinerary during which several tourist places in Karnataka are covered. The destinations covered during Pride of the South are Bengaluru (Day 1), Mysore (Day 2), Nagarhole National Park (Day 3), Hassan, Karnataka, Belur and Halebidu (Day 4), Hospet and Hampi (Day 5), Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami (Day 6), Goa (Day 7), and back to Bengaluru (Day 8). 
Splendor of the South
Splendor of the South tour covers tourist places in 3 South Indian states. During this 7 nights and 8 days itinerary, tourist places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry are explored. Destinations covered during this itinerary include Bangalore (Day 1), Chennai (Day 2), Pondicherry (Day 3), Tanjavur (Day 4), Madurai (Day 5), Thiruvananthapuram (Day 6), Alleppey and Kochi (Day 7) and return to Bangalore (Day 8).
- Palace on Wheels
- Maharaja Express
- Deccan Odyssey
- Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
- Fairy Queen
- Mahaparinirvan Express
- "The Golden Chariot website : Introduction". The Golden Chariot: Official website.
- "Golden Chariot to sport regal colours". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Golden Chariot 2013/14 Schedule". The Golden Chariot website.
- "Golden Chariot train's first commercial run on March 10". The Times of India. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Asia's Leading Luxury Train Award".
- "The Golden Chariot is a totally wired train". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- Somashekar, G.R.N. (2008-09-06). "Rajavilas on rails". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Golden Chariot: Facilities". Golden Chariot: Official website. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Now, Golden Chariot's luxury trail across South India". The Times of India. 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-04-21.