After a hiatus forced by the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has brought back the opulent Deccan Odyssey, a luxury train that promises a regal journey through the heart of India. The inaugural run of this royal train took place on Thursday between CSMT and Panvel marking a momentous occasion in Maharashtra as well as India's tourism industry.
"After around three and half year hiatus, Deccan Odyssey is ready to embark on its first commercial journey from Mumbai to Delhi on September 23, with 25 seats already booked" said an official of MTDC adding that the inaugural run, flagged off by Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar and Girish Mahajan, Minister of Rural Development and Tourism, Maharashtra on Thursday ,showcased the grandeur of this iconic train.
The Deccan Odyssey, which had its initial launch by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004, has been a preferred choice for numerous tourists from various countries over the years.
According to MTDC officials, the train's first commercial journey from Mumbai to Delhi is set for September 23, with approximately 25 seats already booked. This seven-night, eight-day trip will encompass stops in Vadodara, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Agra, Sawai Madhopur, and culminate in Delhi.
Asked about the proposed itineraries an official said, "Six diverse itineraries are planned, including the "Maharashtra Splendor," "Indian Sojourn," "Indian Odyssey," "Maharashtra Wild Trail," "Heritage Odyssey," and "Cultural Odyssey." Additionally, charter tours are being organized to cater to different interests.
One of the highlights of this luxury journey is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad, during the return leg to Mumbai. The cost for this opulent experience is fixed at Rs 6.5 lakh per person. For the couple ( two seats) it will be around Rs 9 lakh only .
The MTDC has partnered with the private operator Ebix, which will oversee train operations for the next five years, paying an initial amount of Rs 1.64 crore and sharing a revenue percentage with the MTDC, potentially increasing over time.
"Deccan Odyssey aims to provide a regal travel experience, complete with dining, entertainment, accommodation, lounge facilities, and guided sightseeing tours. The recent refurbishment, including a new interior design, took place at the Central Railway's Wadi Bunder depot in Mumbai" said an official of MTDC.
Each coach of the Deccan Odyssey is inspired by a different royal era of Maharashtra, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region. | Photo courtesy: Salman Ansari
Each coach of the Deccan Odyssey is inspired by a different royal era of Maharashtra, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region.
MTDC has secured all necessary permissions from Indian Railways for the train's resumption. Alongside other luxury train services in India, the revival of Deccan Odyssey promises tourists a lavish and culturally immersive way to explore the treasures of Maharashtra and northern India.
"The Deccan Odyssey is a remarkable joint venture between the Indian Railways and the Government of Maharashtra, aimed at promoting tourism by offering a luxurious train experience. Since its inauguration in January 2004 by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, this train has been a symbol of opulence and grandeur on wheels. With 21 coaches offering various amenities and a carefully curated itinerary, the Deccan Odyssey offers travelers an unforgettable journey through some of India's most captivating destinations" further added an official.
According to the state tourism minister, the revival of Deccan Odyssey promises travelers a unique and opulent way to explore the cultural and historical treasures of Maharashtra and northern India.
Photo courtesy: Salman Ansari
"The return of the Deccan Odyssey is a significant milestone in India's tourism industry. This luxury train, steeped in history and elegance, offers travelers a chance to embark on a royal journey through some of India's most iconic destinations, making it an experience of a lifetime" Girish Mahajan, Minister of Rural Development and Tourism, Maharashtra .
The Deccan Odyssey boasts 12 deluxe suites and 2 presidential suites, ensuring that passengers experience the highest level of comfort throughout their journey. Each cabin is meticulously designed to provide a tranquil retreat after a day of exploration.
This luxury train is not just about comfortable accommodations; it's like a mobile five-star hotel. Passengers have access to a conference hall, restaurant, bar, health spa, and a host of modern amenities, including cable TV, internet facilities, a library, music player, intercom, cell phone, and Wi-Fi, ensuring that they remain connected and entertained throughout their journey.
Photo courtesy: Salman Ansari
The Deccan Odyssey offers a variety of itineraries that showcase the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of India. Whether you choose the "Maharashtra Splendor," "Indian Sojourn," "Indian Odyssey," "Maharashtra Wild Trail," "Heritage Odyssey," or "Cultural Odyssey," each journey promises to be a unique and enriching experience.
Past and Current Operators
The train was initially operated by MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) from 2004 to 2014, and later by M/s Cox and Kings Ltd. from 2014 to 2020. As of 2023, Ebix Travels has taken over as the current operator, ensuring that the Deccan Odyssey continues to provide top-notch services and experiences to its passengers.
To enhance passenger comfort and safety, several upgrades have been made to the Deccan Odyssey. These include the addition of a dedicated pantry car, installation of bio tanks for improved toilet facilities, enhanced flooring, improved gangways, air suspension trolleys for better functionality, and an upgraded fire extinguisher system.
Charges to be paid to Indian Railways by the operator through MTDC Approximately Rs 2.64 Crore per year inclusive of Haulage charges, right to use charges, Stabling charges, GST.These charges are subject to change as per Indian Railway Board's policy
Operating the Deccan Odyssey is a significant undertaking, with the operator paying approximately Rs 2.64 Crore per year to Indian Railways, inclusive of various charges such as haulage charges, right to use charges, stabling charges, and GST. These charges are subject to change as per Indian Railway Board's policy.
Deccan Odyssey is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Government of Maharashtra with an objective of running a luxury train primarily to showcase the tourism assets of Maharashtra as well as other parts of the country. Deccan Odyssey trips are mostly arranged during September to May season, with a total of around 35 trips during the season.
Number of coaches- 21
Passenger coaches- 12 Deluxe suites- 10
Presidential suites- 2
Conference hall- one coach
Restaurant- two coaches
Health spa- one coach
Bar- one coach
Staff coach- two coaches
Generator van- two coaches
Amenities- Conference Hall, Restaurant, Bar, Health Spa, Cable TV, Computer system, Internet facility, Library, Music player, Intercom, Cell phone, Wi-fi system
Trip Duration: 7 night-8-day trip
Details of Planned Itineraries
Maharashtra Splendor ---8 days/7 nights - Mumbai - Nashik - Aurangabad - Ajanta - Kolhapur - Goa - Sawantwadi - Kudal - Mumbai.
Indian Sojorn --- 8 days/7 nights - Mumbai - Vadodara - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Agra - Sawa Madhopur - Jaipur - Delhi
Indian Odyssey--- 8 days/7 nights-New Delhi-Sawai Madhopur-Agra-Jaipur-Udaipur-Vadodara Aurangabad-Mumbai.
Maharashtra Wild Trail---- 8 days/7 nights-Mumbai-Aurangabad (Ellora)-Ramtek
(Pench) Warora (Tadoba)-Jalgaon-Ajanta-Nashik Mumbai.
Heritage Odyssey---- 8days/7 nights-New Delhi Agra-Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur -Udaipur-Jaisalmer Jodhpur New Delhi
Cultural Odyssey---- 8 days/7 nights- New Dewi-Sawai Madhopur Jaipur - Agra-Gwalior Orchha-Khajuraho-Varanasi-New Delhi
Apart from this, a group of charter tours are also being organized.
Upgradations of Deccan Odyssey
A full coach dedicated to the Pantry Car, designated as the 22nd coach, will be added to the Deccan Odyssey shortly.
A responsible approach was adopted to upgrade all coaches with Bio tanks for improved toilet facilities.
Enhanced flooring has been installed throughout all coaches, providing a better passenger experience
Newly improved gangways have been fixed to the Deccan Odyssey to enhance passenger safety and facilitate smoother movement.
Conventional trolleys have been upgraded to new air suspension trolleys for improved functionality.
The fire extinguisher system has been upgraded for enhanced safety.