Dating back over 2,500 years, the ancient Sanskrit mantra Atithi devo bhava is translated as “The Guest is God.” It’s a philosophy embraced throughout India’s tourism sector, offered with genuine kindness and gracious hospitality.
From the busy street markets in Delhi to the serene majesty of Udaipur’s lake resorts, the people of India honor their guests with pleasure, because it’s a point of pride and a mark of respect observing the ancient Sanskrit verse handed down through the millennia.
For a meeting or incentive planner, think of it as a silent partner at your side who will always have your attendees’ best interests at heart. India is a vast and layered country with spectacular culture and history. So spectacular, your groups will become lost in the intoxicating beauty and exotic sights, scents and sounds. But there is always a guiding hand there to support you, anticipating what you need before you do.
We came here to learn about the northern metropolitan hubs, Mumbai and Delhi. We were lured by the mythology of Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur in the province of Rajasthan: the Land of the Kings. And from the heartstopping Taj Mahal to a whimsical game of elephant polo, we always felt like guests in a friend’s home.
It began with a simple namaste…
ROYAL TREATMENT ON RAILS
Want your incentive group to be treated like royalty? The Maharajas’ Express offers a hassle free way to explore Northern India via an uber luxurious train for a memorable cultural and educational experience that will last a lifetime. Guests are often acknowledged with the verbal greeting, namaste, along with a warm smile and prayer hands. Translated, it means “the spirit in me respects the spirit in you.” It’s a warm way of saying “Welcome”—a ritual that would play out repeatedly every day. The train experience embarks either from Mumbai or New Delhi, the two gateway cities for international groups. From there, the Maharajas’ Express offers a number of 6- to 7-night heavenly itineraries to delve into the land of the Raj.
“The train never fails short of promising your group a royal experience,” says Prem Devassy, general manager of Royale Indian Rail Tours Ltd. “Groups up to 88 can buy out a variety of accommodations, including 18 junior suites, four full-size suites, one presidential suite and 20 deluxe cabins. And, all five of the passenger carriers come with butler service.”
The historic ambience of the railway cars is inspired by the golden age of rail travel, dating back to Jules Verne’s recollection of the old Bombay/Calcutta route in Around the World in 80 Days. But the technology is modern as can be.
“We are equipped with every modern amenity and comfort that money can buy or science can create,” affirms Devassy. The Maharajas’ Express is truly the last word in luxury trains. The thing that makes Devassy smile most is when groups return after a day of exploring. “I love it when our guests tell me they’re glad to be home,” he says.
Every afternoon, you’re greeted with warm hand towels and namaste. Two beautiful fine dining restaurants serve outstanding western dishes: New Zealand lamb, duck à la orange, lobster and blackened salmon. Authentic Indian menus include junglee mass (lamb), prawn tikka (prawns marinated in Indian spices) and murgh badam pasanda (stuffed chicken breast in almond sauce).
The beauty of the train is how it visits all of the important attractions in northern India. The grandaddy is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taj Mahal. Our group was escorted from the train to the luminous marble mausoleum with a guide for a sunrise tour. After our tour, we enjoyed a champagne Indian breakfast overlooking the Taj while live musicians performed.
Another day, our group dinner played out on the dunes in Bikaner’s “camel country” on the stop between Jodhpur and Jaipur. And the next day, we dined outside during an elephant polo match at the Taj Rambagh Palace Jaipur.
“Each day brings a new experience,” says Devassy. “Yes, your group will have to travel far to get here, but once they do, everything is taken care of: security, comfort, a worry free experience. We work very hard to treat all of our guests like Maharajas and Maharans.”
Nidhi Gopal, deputy general manager of sales, echoes that. She says, “The train gives your group an opportunity to experience the best of India and see much more in a week than you could any other way.”
COX & KINGS
The oldest travel company in the world, Cox & Kings has the experience to handle any size group, from exclusive 12-member board retreats to the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) to larger international conferences for 4,000 attendees.
“We handle our corporate and high profile government groups with the utmost highest security,” says Krishna Wattal, vp of Cox & Kings, which has served as a DMC for generations. “Our hospitality is in our blood, and the fact that our economy has been growing and is great for investments, has helped India to grow the number of companies that come to meet here.”
Contact Cox & Kings for all of your DMC requirements, including bookings for the Maharajas’ Express. The rail company just unveiled “The Royal Sojourn” itinerary, which begins and ends in Delhi, through Jaipur, Kota, Ranthambore and Agra.
“This is the first program wherein the train is stationed overnight in some of the cities on the circuit,” says Vipul Kapur, vp, DMC sales. “In case a client charters the entire train, we can offer customization with regard to the sightseeing program and special experiences in each of the cities the Maharajas’ Express is traveling to.”
For sales inquiries and itinerary specifics, contact Mr. Kapur at firstname.lastname@example.org.