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`Palace on wheels' in Karnataka soon

Our Bureau

BANGALORE, Dec. 22

KARNATAKA will soon have its own `Palace on wheels' on the lines of Rajasthan's famous luxury tourist train.

The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has signed a MoU with its partner, Indian Railways, to launch the Rs 30-crore train.

According to Mr I.M.Vittalamurthy, KSTDC Managing Director and Tourism Commissioner, the train will begin and end at Bangalore and cover Mysore, Hassan, Hospet, Hubli, Dandeli and Goa. The package will include the Mysore Palace, Chamundi hills, Srirangapatna in Mysore; Belur, Halebid and Jain pilgrim centre Sravanabelagola in Hassan; world heritage site Hampi; ancient temple sites of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal; wildlife treats at the river Kali and jungle Lodges & Resorts at Dandeli and beach haven Goa.

The trip will cover 1,637 km over seven days and accommodate a maximum of 100 passengers.

The luxury train will have 10 coaches each with four coupes, two restaurant cars and two lounge cars. A bar, an ayurvedic massage parlour, salon, library and a conference room will be part of the treat. Each coupe comes with a cell phone, a TV set and a DVD player. Lunch, dinner and sightseeing at all locations are part of the package, according to Mr Vittalamurthy, who signed the MoU with Mr P.N. Shukla, ED, Tourism & Catering, Railway Board, in New Delhi.

The yet to be named train will operate during two seasons. The peak season during October-March will be for seven days. The name is being decided from a contest-based suggestions received from the KSTDC.

The off-season of April, May, August and September will be for four days and will be priced lower than `Palace on Wheels' or the Royal Orient.

The train is targeted at high-end domestic and foreign tourists. Karnataka Tourism Minister, Mr D.B.Inamdar, said such luxury trains had played a key role in developing tourism in a region.

The luxury train for Karnataka was announced in the Railway Budget of 2001-02 and the State Budget of 2002-03. IdecK, the State's infrastructure development corporation, conducted a feasibility study.

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