Realizing the need to showcase India from an exclusive historical perspective and recognizing the fact that it’s the similar image with which most travelers to India come, the government of India inaugurated the concept of luxury trains that fulfilled this requirement.

First, Palace on Wheels and the latest Maharajas’ Express are a labor of love and an earnest rendition of warm hospitality by the Government of India for the valuable and esteemed guests of the country.

With service in the style of serving the erstwhile kings and emperors of India and with a setting that resembled the halls, chambers, and spaces of the palaces, the luxury trains in India provided nothing short of a royal experience to the guests.

Luxury trains are certainly one of the most fascinating ways to experience and appreciate India. However, an earnest question that usually confounds travelers while deciding to travel by these trains, is which one to choose.

There are 5 luxury trains currently operating in India. These are-The Deccan Odyssey, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Palace on Wheels, Maharajas’ Express, and the Golden Chariot.

However, the competition is especially stiff between two of the most popular luxury trains, i.e. the Maharajas’ Express and the Palace on Wheels.

Let’s find out the difference between the Palace on Wheels and the Maharajas’ Express.

The Engine Rolls

The Palace of Wheels was launched in 1982. It is essentially a luxury coach and its primary emphasis is on heritage across select destinations like Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra. These destinations also form the famous golden triangle destinations of the country.

The Maharajas’ Express was launched in 2010 and is relatively new. Surely it must have been designed keeping in mind the challenges and shortcomings faced in earlier trains.

Money Matters

While traveling to any place, whether locally or internationally, budget is an important consideration and the same is true when choosing between The Maharajas’ Express and The Palace on Wheels. The Maharajas’ Express is a premium carriage. Its facilities are more and far superior. Its services are excellent and there are more destinations covered.
Let us shed some more light on the facts where the difference between the two trains seems far more pronounced.

  • The lowest fare for The Maharajas’ Express’s Package- 3 Nights Treasures of India- in Deluxe Cabin costs around USD 3,850 per person while a trip aboard The Palace on Wheels for 7 Nights is around USD 4,550.

It’s the Journey Not Arrival That Matters

The bulk of the journeys offered by both these trains revolves around destinations in Rajasthan. Adorning the North–West frontiers of the country, Rajasthan is the land of Rajput warrior princes of yore, stories of valor, chivalry, and romance. Moreover, there are resplendent forts and magnificent palaces, myriad colors, and countless traditions, which identify the state. However Maharajas Express’ journeys, on the other hand, have more variety to it as there are more destinations covered by the train during the five trips that are on offer.

    • Palace on Wheels offers a single itinerary. Destinations covered include Delhi, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park), Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur (Keoladeo Ghana National Park), and Agra.
  • Maharajas Express offers 5 itineraries to choose from which include two golden triangle tour itineraries spanning over 4 days. Destinations covered include Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Ajanta, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Balsinor, Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Lucknow. In terms of features, safety, space, facilities, and hospitality, it scores much points ahead of the Palace on Wheels. Besides, there are RFID door locks, electronic safes, fire alarms & extinguishers present in each guest cabin of the Maharajas’ Express.

Comfort and Convenience

Tremulous train rides make it really tough for passengers (from overseas) to have a sound sleep. This has always been an issue amongst foreign visitors traveling in India by rail. To address this issue, a pneumatic suspension system has been introduced in the Maharajas Express for smoother rides.

Both the trains have Wi-Fi, live television, attached bathrooms, and DVD players. However, the Palace on Wheels has an additional spa facility which the other doesn’t have.

But again it’s the Maharajas Express which surges way ahead in terms of services. Just imagine your drinks served in Swarowski Crystal and the food served in gold-plated cutlery. It will definitely be the ultimate royal experience.

Recognition & Awards

The excellence of Maharajas’ Express is further confirmed with its recognition as one of the most luxurious trains in the world standing at par with other leading trains such as the Royal Scotsman, Venice Simplon Orient Express, and the Rovos Rail, etc. In fact, Maharajas’ Express has been the recipient of the prestigious World Travel Award in the category of the World’s Leading Luxury Train for three consecutive years, including the year 2015.

In the past, Palace on Wheels has been voted the 4th Best Luxury Train in the World.

Should I go for the Palace on Wheels or Maharajas Express?

If you have decided to embark on a luxury train journey and a memorable adventure in India, then choosing one of these trains really boils down to economics. If you can afford it; Maharajas’ Express is definitely recommended.

But if you are rather interested in a journey full of romance and elegance of a bygone era traveling aboard the replica carriages of the personal coaches used by erstwhile Maharajas, Nizams, and Viceroys of India, then go for the Palace on Wheels journey.

Whichever option you choose, rest assured that it will be a journey of a lifetime, and it’s worth taking the plunge for an expedition full of adventure, refinement, and romance.