A slice of oriental romance
R. Krishna Kumar
The stone chariot in Hampi.
MYSORE: Karnataka's own palace-on-wheels that will connect heritage destinations across the State and unveil a slice of oriental romance to an international clientele is set to drive State tourism to a new high.
Riding the wave of popularity at the International Tourism Borse (ITB) Berlin, which concluded on Sunday, the State divulged its luxury train concept to a niche audience and tour operators specialising in luxury train tourism who sat up to take note that there existed a golden India beyond the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.
ITB Berlin is reckoned to be the biggest and the most prestigious tourism mart in the world, and a positive impact there results in a bonanza for tourism sector of the region.
While the State made an overwhelming impact at the tourism mart and generated tremendous response as it showcased its diverse cultural heritage, the luxury train caught the imagination of the public and travel professionals.Tourism Commissioner Kumar G. Naik on his return from the ITB, told The Hindu that Karnataka derived tremendous exposure at the international tourism mart and helped create a positive profile.
The Karnataka team showcased its palace-on-wheels, now nearing completion, and if the feedback is any indication, then the State should roll out the red carpet and reap a rich harvest in due course.
Mr. Kumar Naik disclosed that the luxury train was nearing completion at the Integral Coach Factory, Perambur, and Pendse Associates, who also designed Maharashtra's Deccan Odyssey, are working on the interiors. The train will be aptly named so as to fire the imagination of the tourists and will emerge as a brand with popular recall value as in Royal Orient, Deccan Odyssey and the Fairy Queen.
Mr. Kumar Naik said they had not yet christened the luxury train, but had zeroed in on a few names of which Golden Chariot was one.
"It is after the chariot wheels at the World Heritage Site at Hampi, but no final decision has been taken yet. The luxury train will definitely chug out from this season starting September", he added.
The interiors of the trains will be simply out of this world and the consultants have visited Hampi and the Mysore Palace in a bid to pick up ideas that could be incorporated.
The rakes are going to cost Rs.32 crore of which the Karnataka Government is chipping in with Rs.16 crore while Rs.8 crore each has been sanctioned by the Centre and the Railways.
The itinerary is being worked out and the six-day seven-night tour will cover Bangalore, Mysore, Hassan (Belur, Halebeedu and Shravanabelagola), Hampi, Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation is looking out for a project director to market the product to various stakeholders and oversee its management while efforts are on to outsource service providers to match the exacting standards that is expected to propel Karnataka tourism to a new high.