'Golden Chariot' luxury train to go commercial on March 10

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Panaji, Feb 28 (UNI) The Golden Chariot, the Karnataka government and Indian Railway's luxury coach showcasing the South Indian state's culture and traditions to promote tourism, is set to launch its commercial operations from March 10.

''The response to the roadshows in India and abroad is tremendous and we are ready to start bookings for the 'chariot' from March 10, even as we have plans to add 19th capsule to the coach,'' according to Information Department secretary and Chairman of Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation I M Vittala Murthy.

Interacting with mediapersons here on various features of the Rs 38 crore venture on the lines of the popular ''Palace on Wheels'', he said the ''chariot'' chugs off from Bangalore on a 7-day tour of various places including Mysore, Srirangapatna, Kabini, Shravanabenagola, Belur, Halebidu, Hampi, Badami, Aihole,Pattadakal, before culminating in Goa.

The authorities fixed the tariff at 350 dollars per day and the tourist had to pay for seven days. It was lower compared to 490 dollars for the famous ''Palace on Wheels'' coach that tours Rajasthan.

''The Golden Charriot is another big step in making tourism a major revenue earner for the state and the country, besides pushing business and employment opoortunities,'' he added.

The trial run of the luxury train was flagged off on February 2 by President Pratibha Patil at Bangalore and had terminated yesterday in Goa before retreat.

It is the only train in the country with Wi-Fi environment in its 18 thematically designed 11 passenger coaches, with each cabin fully equipped with modern amenities like plasma TV and attached bathrooms.

Each cabin reflects the glorious art and architecture of Karnataka, particularly Mysore, and Belur-Galebed schools even as the bed spreads had been hand woven by artisans who had carried traditions down the ages.

The coaches, specially designed and manufactured by the Integral coach Factory, Chennai, were named after various Karnataka dynasties like Adamba, Hoyasala, Rashtrakuta, Ganga, Chalukya, Bahamanhi, Adilshahi, Samgma, Shatavahana, Yedukula and Vijayanagara.

Interestingly, the train includes Arogya and Ayurveda centre, spa and a state of the art gym providing rejuvenation for the tourists, besides a lounge bar with mouth watering cuisines, both vegetarian and non-vegetarians.

UNI/BM DB SM NY RK1240

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