Which is Better Palace on Wheels or Maharaja Express

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Selected Poetry

In many forums I have often come across the question asked by foreign tourists that which luxury train in India is better Palace on Wheels or Maharaja Express. Not that there are only two luxury trains operating in India. In fact there is only a little awareness about three other luxury trains operating in India. Whereas the Deccan Odyssey operates in Western India, the Golden Chariot offers two journeys in Karnataka and South India. Another counterpart of Palace on Wheels is the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels which offer journeys mostly in Rajasthan.

However being the first luxury train introduced in India and promoted and featured widely, Palace on Wheels is the most revered and popular luxury train in India. Its major appeal was that it was originally composed of the private carriages used by the erstwhile maharajas, Nijams and Viceroys of India. The coaches replaced with replicas to accommodate modern technologies to provide greater comfort to the guests.

Which is Better Palace on Wheels or Maharaja Express

The Palace on Wheels: India’s First Luxury Train

The Palace on Wheels has been operating since 1982. But then IRCTC introduced Maharaja Express in 2010 and luxury train traveling was redefined in India.

Maharaja Express with its superior design and technology is something which was missing from luxury train travel segment in India. It was India’s answer to the Orient Express and Royal Scotsman of the West.

Also Read:

Top 10 Luxury Trains in the World

Which is Better Palace on Wheels or Maharaja Express

Maharaja Express redefined luxury train travel in India

Now as for which is better, Palace on Wheels or Maharajas Express, the answer could be very subjective and depends entirely on what a guest is looking for or ‘expects’ from luxury train travel.

Here is a comparative analysis of Palace on Wheels and Maharaja Express

At a Glance
Maharajas Express Palace on Wheels
Journeys 5 itineraries starting from either Delhi or Mumbai. 3 nights and 7 night itineraries. 1 itinerary starting and ending in Delhi. Only 7 night itinerary.
Highlights Sun downer cocktails and barbecues in sand dunes, gala dinners in palaces and forts grounds, visits to world heritage sites across India, Bishnoi Tribe and Oshiyan Mostly forts and palaces across Rajasthan and Taj Mahal in Agra.
Facilities RFID door locks, fire alarms, CCTV cameras in public areas, electronic safe, live TV, DVD player, Wi Fi, On board water filtration plant, attached wash rooms with shower, bath tub in Presidential suite, library, bar & lounge with indoor games Wi Fi, live TV, attached washrooms, bar, spa, souvenir shop, indoor games
Accommodation Provided in 4 cabin types, Deluxe Cabins, Junior Suites, Suites and a Presidential Suite spanning over entire carriage. Deluxe Cabins only
Tariff Starts from USD 3,850 for 3 nights, USD 5980 for 7 nights and goes up to USD 12,900 for 3 nights and 23,700 for 7 nights

Starts from USD 3150 for 7 nights on triple occupancy and goes up to USD 6055 for single occupancy for 7 nights


Now let’s compare the journeys of Palace on Wheels and Maharaja Express


Maharaja Express Palace on Wheels
Heritage of India

Starting From: $6,840*

Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Destinations Covered: Mumbai – Ajanta – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Bikaner – Jaipur – Ranthambore – Agra – Delhi

Single itinerary

Starting from: $3,150*

Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Destinations Covered: Delhi – Jaipur – Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore) – Chittorgarh – Udaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Bharatpur – Agra – Delhi

Treasures of India

Starting From: $3,850*

Duration: 3 nights/4 days

Destinations Covered: Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Delhi

Indian Panorama

Starting From: $5,980*

Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Destinations Covered: Delhi – Jaipur – Ranthambore – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra – Gwalior – Orchha – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Lucknow – Delhi

Indian Splendor

Starting From: $5,980*

Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Destinations Covered: Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Bikaner – Jodhpur – Udaipur – Balasinor – Mumbai

Gems of India

Starting From: $3,850*

Duration: 3 Nights / 4 Days

Destinations Covered: Delhi – Agra – Ranthambore – Jaipur – Delhi

Here’s my day experience on both trains if you are interested 🙂

Palace on Wheels was launched in 1982 so you see more than luxury, it is kind of a heritage train journey across select destinations in Rajasthan + ‘the golden triangle’ i.e. Jaipur, Delhi and Agra.

Maharajas’ Express on the other hand was launched in 2010 and definitely count as a “luxury train” at par with the likes of Royal Scotsman or the Rovos Rail (You can even say more luxurious as it has won the award of World’s Leading Luxury Train at the prestigious World Travel Award for 3 consecutive years which include this year).

Simply comparing the facilities, room space, safety features and hospitality will put Maharajas’ Express notches ahead of the Palace on Wheels or the prestigious luxury trains of the West such as Venice Simplon Orient Express, Rovos Rail or the Rocky Mountaineer.

Consider a Presidential Suite with an attached washroom that comes fitted with bathtub. That’s simply a sybarite’s delight not to mention spacious living areas and two bedrooms. But then again it could set you back by USD 23,700 for a journey spanning over 7 nights and 8 days. But travelling in Presidential Suite has its own perks like exclusive language speaking guide and Luxury car during the off-board journeys.

Whereas Maharajas Express offer 5 journeys to choose from, Palace on Wheels offers a single itinerary. Palace on Wheels’ itinerary focuses on Rajasthan whereas Maharajas’ Express focuses on the best of India.

Maharajas’ Express journeys are available from Mumbai as well as Delhi whereas Palace on Wheels journey is from Delhi to Delhi.

With Maharajas’ Express itinerary, you could cover Varanasi, Ajanta Caves, Khajuraho, Lucknow and Gwalior as well (depending up on the itinerary you choose). Palace on Wheels does not cover these destinations.

Now there are two concerns here for you when it comes to choosing one or the other; first is your budget and second is the places that you’d like to cover. The lowest fare of Maharajas Express i.e. the 3 nights Treasures of India in a Deluxe Cabin will set you back by USD 3,850 per person whereas traveling aboard Palace on Wheels for 7 nights journey (all cabins are identical) will cost USD 4550 per person.

Now both have Wi-Fis, attached washrooms, live television, DVD players etc. Palace on Wheels even has a Spa Saloon which Maharajas’ Express doesn’t have.

However it’s the quality of the facilities in Maharajas’ Express that makes it far superior than Palace on Wheels. Consider drinks served in Swarovski crystal and food served in gold plated cutlery. Then there are electronic safe in each guest cabin and RFID door locks in Maharajas’ Express for additional safety.

Pneumatic suspension of Maharajas’ Express ensures that you have a smoother ride and sound sleep. Palace on Wheels does not have this feature.

Now I can go on like this but let me ask you one thing. How much are you willing to pay to have that extra comfort and a stylish journey at par with the bests in the world? If money is not a concern go for the Maharajas’ Express. It is definitely a far superior option to travel to some of the finest tourist destinations in India. A journey drenched in opulence, elegance and romance. But if it is the nostalgia for a bygone era and a peek into the life of idiosyncratic Rajput princes, it is the Palace on Wheels for you.

That pretty much sums it up 🙂

What do you think? Which is better, Palace on Wheels or Maharaja Express.

Interested in info about all luxury trains? Visit the website of Indian Luxury Trains: India’s first luxury train travel portal

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