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Issue 5 - Trainspotting (Palace on Wheels)

Whisky Magazine Issue 5
August 1999


This article is 18 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Trainspotting (Palace on Wheels)

India's luxury train the Palace on Wheels, has a bar that's open all day, every day, and whiskies that bill themselves as 'Horsepower for real men.' Kevin Pilley had a ticket to ride.

Arthur sucked on his pipe. We both watched the smoke circle over the bar top and rise up towards the mirrored ceiling. ‘We have two things in common, you and I,' he said after a meditative silence. I raised my eyebrows. ‘Whisky and sarcasm,' announced my fellow barfly, pushing over the Glenfiddich bottle and inviting me to have another hit. We were both on holiday and pushing the boat out. Even if it was on a train.

The Palace on Wheels is India's most expensive all-inclusive holiday. It costs £2000 ($3,200), starts and finishes at Delhi, and visits Jaipur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Agra in a week-long journey. All meals are provided as well as a complimentary Rajasthani turban which all embarking passengers receive along with a garland of wilted marigold flowers, a welcoming sandalwood paste red dot in the middle of their forehead, some stationery, six postcards and the chance to touch a very gaunt elephant. Guests also get provided with a Dutch wife to sleep with. This is a bed bolster.

Obeying the Palace's dress code out of respect for our hosts (the train is run by the Indian government), we were both sitting up at the bar wearing our fetching red easy-to-wear turbans. ‘Where's your wife?' I asked my new friend. “My Pam?' Arthur replied, gazing down the carriage. ‘Probably choosing what teeth to wear for dinner.'

Arthur is a semi-retired doctor. He works three times a week in general practice in New Zealand. The rest of the time he plays g...

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