Prez to flag off Golden Chariot on Feb 2

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Bangalore, Jan 31: President Prathiba Patil will flag-off 'Golden Chariot,' the much awaited luxury train of Karnataka State Tourism, here on February 2 State Tourism Secretary I M Vittala Murthy said today.

Addressing a press conference, he said the 18-bogie train will be the flag bearer of Karnataka. However, the Conference Coach is getting ready at ICF in Chennai and will be added in next two months. The coaches have been named after the dynasties that ruled Karnataka -- Kadamba, Hoysala, Rastrakota, Ganga, Chalukya,Bhahamani, Adhilshahi, Sangama, Shathavashna, Yudukula and Vijayanagar.

The train, which would have its commercial run from March 3, would cover places of historical importance, wildlife and world heritage sites, including Hampi, Badami,Ihole and Patadakallu, Belur, Halebedu and Sharavanabelagola where a 64-foot monolothic statue of Lord Gomateswara stands.

To a question, Mr Murthy said though the project was conceived in 2003, the cost had risen to Rs 38 crore from Rs 33 crore. The specially decorated coaches hall all modern facilities to meet the tastes of touring foreigners.

Each coach is equipped with wi-fi, plasma TV and attached baths. The cabins draw heavily from the Mysore and Belur Halebid Schools of art and architecture.

The bedspreads are hand-woven by artisans who had carried tradition down the ages. At the Ayurveda Centre, a spa and a state-of the-art gym will provide rejuvenation to the travellers.

The train would have a dedicated engine and travel at a maximum speed of 100 KMPH.

To another question, he said the fare has been fixed at 350 Dollas per person for the seven-day and eight-night journey. The train would start its journey from Bangalore and reach Goa

Mr Murthy said Mapple Hotels, the management partner for the Golden Chariot, has appointed IndiaWALKS as the Cultural Co-ordinator for designing and conducting on and off board activities including selection and training of guides at each destination. The Conference Coach would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and services. It can accommodate 30 business leaders.

Mr Arun Pai of Bangalore walk told UNI it was also proposed to involve local artistes in entertaining the tourists.

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) Managing Director Prashat Kumar Thakur said ''the Golden Chariot will be a major catalyst for renewed thrust on tourism in the state.

''It will also project and become a new symbol of culturally rich and diverse State that Karnataka is. Now, we can count ourselves as one of the few who can boast of a luxury train that can give utmost value for money and over and above unique and exhilarating experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere-anywhere in the world,'' he said.

The Luxury Trains CEO Sajivva Trehaan, who has been entrusted with marketing, said queries had already been received from tourists in Europe and the US and the company was confident of getting good response.

UNI

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