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All Aboard the Maharajas’ Express

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What is being touted as the most luxurious train in the world is now accepting bookings for its first season. And trust me, this ain’t Amtrak.

The Maharajas’ Express has four itineraries of six and seven nights and takes passengers to some of the most exotic destinations on the subcontinent, including Jaipur, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai, and Udaipur (voted the best city in the known universe in the 2009 World’s Best Awards), among many others.

Two opulent dining cars seat all 82 passengers at once, and there's a bar, an observation lounge with its own bar and club chairs, and a boutique. And there are four levels of guest rooms, each with LCD TV screens, microprocessor climate control, large panorama windows, DVD players, electronic safe-deposit boxes, even Internet access. There is also a team of butlers, one per car, to assist you in laying out your tux or gown (dinner is a formal affair) or just to show you how to use the DVD remote.

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Guests will take guided tours of the destinations (transportation and most fees included in your fare), including Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, a camel breeding farm in Bikaner, a champagne lunch and elephant polo match in Jaipur, and high tea at Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda. Guests will be given sightseeing kits that include pith helmets and “shoe uppers.” Apparently the lifestyle of the former British Raj isn’t entirely dead.

None of this comes cheap. Prices start at $800 per person per night, double. The first trip begins on January 9, 2010. For details, go to the Royale Indian Rail Tours website.

Mark Orwoll is Travel + Leisure's international editor.

Photos courtesy of the Maharajas' Express

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