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Palace on wheels

   India's New Delhi station, as usual, was full of people. The crowd was so noisy that the whole station was like a buzzing hive. Farmers in the countryside, with luggage on their heads, walked back and forth on the platform with bare feet, trying to find another place to stand in the crowded carriages. Well-dressed urbanites, who had already settled in their seats, had to settle down with the conductors again. Noisy. On the platform, the beggars sang a hymn from time to time to the people who threw alms, while the hawkers next to them kept swearing while guarding their stalls. Look at the people waiting for the bus, lying on the ground and sleeping soundly, ignoring the large and small bags around them.

  And today we don't have to deal with this chaotic station. We came to a quiet station a few kilometers away from the urban area of ​​New Delhi, the capital. The tranquility and tranquility here make people feel more comfortable. After a while, someone suddenly came out to greet us with bagpipes and tambourines. One of the girls put on a garland for me, and also wrapped a long red scarf on my head, and a touch of cinnabar was lit up between my brows. Afterwards, a waiter in black breeches and a white jumper took my luggage and led me into the ornate waiting room. The waiting room itself is also a luxury bar, decorated with various colors. Outside the waiting room, along the long platform was an ivory-white train, the "Royal Train" that I was about to board. I sat down in the waiting room. The comfortable seats were covered with beautiful silk, and I sank into the soft seat cushions. I took the ice-cold wine from the waiter and slowly enjoyed it. The ceiling was as smooth as a mirror, and when I looked up, I saw my Indian dress.

  Finally, I boarded the "Palace on Wheels". This train trip around Rajasthan is the most exotic trip in the world, with countless scenery along the way, and the most exotic train in the world. It is really exciting. Over the next few weeks, we will travel by train through cities, deserts, and forests, see forts, palaces and temples along the way, experience elephant and camel rides in wildlife sanctuaries, and search for ourselves Trail of the tiger. At the end of the itinerary, we will also arrive at the Taj Mahal to have a glimpse of this extraordinary wonder. No hotel check-ins, no need to repeatedly pack your bags, no waiting for airport security, and no need to think about India's scary highways. Gee, can there be a better trip than this?

  After the drinks, the waiter escorted me back to the box and set everything up for me. I was surprised to find that each box had no keys. It turns out that there is no need to lock the door in the "Palace"! As

  night falls, passengers come to the dining car to eat. There are two carriages in the dining car, each with a distinguished name - "King Car" and "Princess Car". Here, there are Indian delicacies and European meals. The impeccable interiors of the carriages give passengers an unparalleled sense of glory - with delicate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, expensive Persian carpets on the floor, and intricately carved silverware at hand, the whole dining car looks like It's really a palace, magnificent. We enjoyed sumptuous meals, superb wines and top-notch personal service. It is mid-April, and the temperature in India is approaching 40 ℃. It seems that it is not a wise choice to go out and play at this time. But it was different in the "Palace". The air-conditioning in the carriage was full, and the train was not full, so it was very comfortable.

  Most of the passengers are middle-aged couples from wealthy families. You know, such a "Royal Train" trip is really expensive. The box I stayed in was 50 a night. Dollar. Among the fellow travelers was an English priest who confessed to me that the trip had cost him half of his bank account. The most special thing in the car is probably the old British lady's family. The old lady looked old, and she joked to herself, "My skin is loose and my back is bent." She was accompanied by her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, one aged 9 and the other 12. This luxurious trip was a gift from the old lady to her daughter's family. Her wife had just passed away, and she would like to thank her daughter and son-in-law for taking good care of her over the past few years.

  That night, with the sound of the train, I soon fell asleep. The train was speeding in the dark night, heading for the first stop of the journey - Jaipur.

  "The Palace on Wheels" may sound like an advertisement, but this train lives up to its name. The luxury style of princes and nobles is reflected everywhere on the car, and the first-generation "Palace" many years ago did indeed have sofas used by the Indian royal family and British aristocrats, and they were all specially customized for long-distance train travel. of.

  In the middle of the 20th century, India became independent and established a democratic republic, and the power of the aristocratic class declined. In the end, the royal dignitaries lost their power and status, and the old royal train no longer existed. Until the 1980s, the Rajasthan government, which has always been cautious and frugal, was inspired by the legendary "Orient Express" and decided to make a big deal. The so-called "Oriental Express" is a luxury train that once belonged to the Maharajas of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Their power was at its peak during British rule. At that time, princes and nobles were free to raise taxes within their sphere of influence to build lavish palaces, hold royal galas, and, of course, enjoy their exclusive royal trains. When India became independent from British rule, and the princes lost their high positions and taxing powers, these trains became a drag and were left behind. So next, in addition to deciding to rebuild several large wine estates in the local area, the Rajasthan government will also spend huge sums of money to build a luxury train to reproduce the royal style of the time to foreigners.

  When the first generation of "Palace" first appeared, the most eye-catching thing was its steam engine. Because it is powered by steam, coal needs to be burned when driving, and the car is often smoky and roasted, which is unbearably hot. The whistle was whining and the engine was smudged. In such an environment, I am afraid it is difficult to swallow even a sip of tea. But despite this, there are still many tourists signing up, which is very popular. Among them, there was an 80-year-old British woman who walked off the train with tears at the end of the journey and thanked the train manager deeply for helping her to relive her dream of aristocracy for decades.

  In 1991, the new second-generation "Palace" came out. It combines luxurious royal equipment with a modern powertrain. Four years later, with the progress of the track widening project of the Indian Railways, the third generation of "Palace" came into being, which is the train I am riding now.

  Early the next morning, we arrived at the first stop of our journey - Jaipur. After breakfast, we got off the train, and immediately someone came up to lay a wreath for us. We were also greeted by a naive little elephant, decorated with various colors on its head and waving its long trunk to welcome us. We will stay here all day, exploring, sightseeing and shopping to our heart's content.

  The city of Jaipur was founded in the 1720s by the then monarch Jasin II. As early as the last century, when the British writer Ludia Kipling came to Jaipur as a newspaper reporter, he sincerely sighed, "If you want to visit all the landscapes in this place, I am afraid that one year is not enough. !” Today, as the commercial and political center of Rajasthan, Jaipur is still charming and attracts countless tourists.

  The train moved forward slowly, taking us to the first scenic spot. Outside the car window is the busy streets of Jaipur, with all kinds of scooters and hand-pulled carts; there are cattle drivers, camel drivers, and some people lead dogs; cyclists and pedestrians next to them from time to time. Avoiding each other, the whole street was crowded and bustling.

  Between joking and laughing, we arrived at the attraction - a temple made of pure white marble. On the whole, this temple belongs to the Hindu style, and in addition to the Hindu gods, the temple also houses Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, and even Socrates and the Persian prophet Zoroaster! The second The attraction is a large observatory, also built by the monarch Jasin II. The observatory is made of a mixture of marble and some local stone, and the sundial is About 22 meters high, it is the largest in the world. It is said that this sundial was the most accurate astronomical measuring instrument in the world at that time. Its accuracy is half dependent on the sun and half on the moon. To this day, its timing error is still less than 3 seconds.

  We also visited a palace in a neighboring town. Inside are two large silver water tanks, each 1.5 meters high. They were specially minted for 19th century Indian monarchs. The kings at that time were very orthodox religious believers. Every time they went to England, they ordered people to fill the water tank with Ganges water and carried them to the boat, so that they could hold religious ceremonies at any time during the journey and purify themselves with the holy Ganges water. soul.

  After visiting the palace, we took the bus into the natural area outside the city and headed to a hill for an elephant ride. However, as soon as I got out of the car, I saw a few little boys who made money by juggling. This makes people think of a problem: India, which has always boasted of its rapid economic development, but as everyone knows, India's child labor employment rate is also the highest in the world. This has to be regrettable.

  At dawn, the sky is still dark. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and got off the train. I changed to a car and headed to Ranthambore National Park, one of the more important of India's 39 wild tiger reserves.

  Early in the morning, we entered the park. After a while, the footprints of tigers were found on the ground, and everyone was excited. After a full two-hour drive in the park, we saw a lot of wild animals, including peacocks, sika deer, baboons, owls, antelopes, etc. It was a feast for the eyes, but only tigers were not seen. what a pity.

  Back in the car, the waiter Lexman comforted me: "It's okay, sir. If you have the opportunity to come again, you will definitely see the tiger! Trust me."

  Hearing his comfort was heartwarming. In fact, the fellow passengers unanimously believed that the most valuable in the "palace" were these waiters. As long as we waved, they would immediately come forward, or bring a cup of refreshing tea, or bring a refreshing drink. Serve us food when we dine, help us carry our luggage when we get in the car, hand us a cool towel when it's hot... considerate and courteous.

  I wanted to know more about Lexman, so I asked him to sit down and talk. He seemed embarrassed at first, but at my repeated invitations he sat down.

  The dude, 48, has been on the Royal Train for 20 years. From the birth of the first generation of the "Palace" to the present, he has been an "old minister of the three dynasties" who has served three generations of the "Palace". He is very satisfied with his work. “Many elderly passengers thank me in tears, saying that I take care of them more than my own son,” he told me proudly.

  In the three days after leaving Ranthambull National Park, we visited Udaipur with its beautiful lake scenery; visited Jaisalmore, a golden city built of sandstone in the desert; and visited Jodhpur, the capital of the once glorious kingdom.

  Tomorrow, our train will embark on the return journey. Today, we arrive at the Taj Mahal bathed in the gentle morning sun—a mausoleum of intense beauty and extreme proportions. The tomb of Queen Grand Mutazi, the owner of the Taj Mahal, is located seven feet underground. What it witnesses is a romantic royal love story in history. The two waterways that crisscross the vast land covered with flowers are breathtaking.

  It is said that a few years ago, two passengers of the "Palace" fell in love at first sight during their journey. After arriving at the Taj Mahal, the two were deeply shocked by the beauty and magnificence in front of them, and immediately agreed here for life.

  "And did they get married later?" I asked the train manager.

  "At that time, I left their contact information and asked them to notify me when they got married, and I would send a gift to congratulate them. But I don't know why there is no letter from them until now."

  Maybe, after leaving the Taj Mahal, the mountains are overwhelming. The romance that comes will slowly fade away. Reality is reality after all. Today, we came here on the "Royal Palace on Wheels" to experience this beautiful fairy tale world at the foot of the Taj Mahal, but what will happen tomorrow? Similarly, we will also embark on the return journey, returning to the noisy place before And the real world is gone.




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