March 18, 2010

Trip to Khajuraho Bandhavgarh on Luxury Train : Maharaja Express

Friends, I would like to inform you all about the success of first round visit of Maharaja Express Luxury Train of Cox & Kings in which tourist passengers had visited Khajuraho & Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh.
It was early morning (03:00 AM) at small railway station Umaria. Que of 17 luxury taxi cars at Umaria railway station was attracting attention of every passing-by visitors. Police personnel were also trespassing the railway platform, it seemed as if some VVIP personality was to come. At 5:00 AM, movements of railway officials suddenly increased in the platform and news was spread as if a tourist trains were coming from Khajuraho. With the introduction of banners and stickers on taxi, it was now clear that Maharaja Express was coming at Umaria for Bandhavgarh Trip. Anyone can guess the importance of train and its passengers with the level of ongoing arrangements their at small railway station where waiting room for First Class Passengers remained locked and open only on request of ticket holder to Station Master. Suddenly a Police Patrol Jeep arrived at parking area and officer ordered all the rickshaw pullers and some of sleeping-gypsies to move away from sight as it hurts the image of country. Train arrived at 06:40 Hrs in the morning and first a camera-man suddenly appeared on the station to shoot the arrival and slowly tourist came out following to theirs tour-escorts. Here i little bit of mis-management as some the tourist were looking here & their for their guide/escort as if they have not been informed what to do, where to go, whom to follow but slowly things settled down and almost all the tourist got their taxi and slowly half of the taxi proceed to Bandhavgarh. I was assured, all the tourists have gone but suddenly, a lady of 50+ age appeared on the exit gate and was looking tensed and was looking for the members of company organizing the tour but unfortunately nobody was their to guide her but as another train was coming from Delhi/Agra, some of the taxi drivers were waiting for their guest, they indicated the direction and she managed to get the taxi. Fleet immediately rushed to Tala entrance gate of Bandhavgarh National Park for morning game drive as arrival of train was already delayed by more than 2 hours. As train was already delayed, chance of tiger sighting lessen with the rise in temperature but luck favored all the visitors and almost all the visitors had satisfactory tiger sighting in both Tala & Magdhi range. Some of the visitors have seen 4-5 tigers in single game drive; it was really surprising as at the beginning of the season, many visitors were complaining of decrease in tiger sighting in Bandhavgarh. At around 10:30 hrs, safari jeeps returned back to Taj Mahua Kothi Safari Lodge, where all of them had lunch and then returned back to Umaria Railway Station where Maharaja Express was waiting for its passenger. Ground management was best ever despite of the fact that it was first visit of the train. All the credit goes to Indian Railway Staff, Police officials, Forest Department and those was have been assigned the duty of Ground Handling. We have witnessed the fleet of 17 Luxury Cars waiting at Railway Station Parking area since 3:00 AM with full-fledged preparation, railway staff was continuously monitoring the movement of train and ground level arrangements with an intention to leave no stone unturned. All the combined efforts results to successful trip of Bandhavgarh to Maharaja Express passengers and will definitely promote tourism in Central India.

One thing was wandering in my mind, is it one safari enough to understand the wildlife or to get satisfy our urge to see jungle, freely roaming animals that we have either seen on television/computer screen. I think, it is not so but one thing is their, tiger sighting will definitely give some satisfaction and induce the tourist to visit it again to understand it with long stay. It will promote Central India Tourism. Overall arrangements were good with scope of further improvement.

Sunil Kumar Dubey