India conjures up all sorts of images for me so I really didn’t know what to expect when I was given an invitation to take a trip on-board the luxury train Deccan Odyssey from Delhi to Mumbai…but I was about to find out….
After travelling from London in business class with Emirates on the flagship A380, the largest aircraft in the fleet with the most up to date on-board entertainment, flat bed’s, cocktail bar, mood sensitive lighting and amazing food & drink I really arrived into Delhi feeling raring to go!
On arrival I was met by my guide Brijesh armed with a mobile phone and WIFI dongle to keep me up to date with the world, his caring attitude and personal knowledge was proven to be second to none and before boarding the Train I was given a tour of Old & New Delhi by a charity who help the Street Children of the city by encouraging them to become guides and take tourists to show them the sights as a paid job which can give them greater opportunities for a better life. In Old Delhi the sights and sounds are like nothing on earth with people, rickshaws, mopeds and animals jostling for space in the narrow alleys, in contrast to New Delhi which is now a modern city area housing the consulates and financial offices.
Once on-board the Train after a traditional Indian welcome and a rose petal path to the carriage I had the chance to settle into my luxurious, spacious en – suite cabin with décor reminiscent of a regal era but with all the modern amenities you would expect in a first class hotel along with a personal attendant to ensure you have everything you need. The Deccan Odyssey offers gourmet dining always with a choice of Indian or European cuisine over four courses and fine wines with a Bar for a pre-dinner drink or nightcap. The service on- board was very attentive and although the surroundings are very grand the atmosphere is relaxed.
Our first stop was Rathanbore National Park where we were taken on safari game drive in search of Tigers who failed to make an appearance however we did see Monkey’s, Crocodiles, Zebra and many different Bird species. The views across the National Park are spectacular and well worth a visit.
Next on to Agra the home of the Taj Mahal which was in fact a gift of love from the Emperor Shah Jahan to his Wife which took over 20 years to complete, of course an amazing sight as expected and the intricate marble detailing is amazing. Another must see is the Agra Fort set in beautiful gardens which still functions today as a military base.
Jaipur known as the ‘Pink City’ due to pink sandstone carvings at the Palace of Winds which was just a façade of a Palace for the Ladies of Royalty to spy on the everyday life in the city and Jodphur known as the ‘Blue City’ with the vividly painted houses were the following two days of sightseeing before heading onto Udaipur.
Udaipur the City on the Lake was my favourite destination it is set on the tranquil waters of Lake Pichola the atmosphere there was much calmer with everywhere accessible by boat or on foot, a walking tour is the ideal way to see the Old City which is home to various street traders in a more superior environment than other parts of India, the City Palace and the Crystal Gallery. If you wanted to escape for a few day’s here the Taj Palace on the Lake would be an ideal 5* retreat only reached by boat and secluded from the city life.
After visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Champaner –Pavagadh Archaeological Park housing palaces, mosques, tombs & temples all dating from the 8th to 14th centuries along with a high tea at the Laxmi Vilas Palace it was onto my final destination Mumbai.
Now the last two days of my trip were spent in Mumbai which I would say is the most westernised city with lots of British influence we even saw red London Buses and traffic lights! Of course many historic landmarks to see here and one final highlight for me was to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel as featured recently on the BBC 1 television show.
Overall an amazing journey which I would highly recommend. For further information on India please contact Lee on 01394 615620.