Karnataka: 'Golden Chariot' to roll from Jan

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Kochi, Dec 16: 'Golden Chariot', a luxury tourist train aimed at high-end travellers visiting Karnataka, will be launched next month, the state's Tourism Director C Somasekhara said here.

Talking to reporters last evening, Dr Somasekhara said the train will run from Bangalore to Goa via Mysore, Hassan, Hampi and Gadag in seven days. To be priced at about US$ 350 per person per night, the journey will ''offer the best of luxury inside the train and unmatched experiences outside,'' he said.

Stating that Karnataka was pitching tourism as the ''next revolution'' in the state after IT, he said that it was aiming at a 20 per cent increase in both domestic and foreign tourists this year.

Karnataka had received 27 million domestic and 550,000 foreign tourists in 2005 and had been registering a 15 to 20 per cent increase in arrivals over the past three to four years, he added.

Describing the 'Golden Chariot' as a major product aimed particularly at foreign tourists, he said this was expected to boost foreign arrivals in a big way. ''Already, we are getting a number of inquiries about the train,'' he said.

Apart from the train, the state was also banking upon its ''beautifully motorable roads'' to attract tourists with a special ''driving through Karnataka'' holiday product, he said.

Several driving circuits, including from Bangalore to Shimoga, Mysore and Hassan, had been developed.

Water sports and other adventure activities and homestay facilities in the coffee plantations of Coorg and Chikamagalur were the other new products being offered in addition to the main tourist attractions such as the Hampi and Pattadakal temple complex World Heritage sites, the Mysore Palace and Vrinadavan Gardens and the Jog Falls.

UNI

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