RIDING THE TRAIN: The Palace on Wheels train departs every Wednesday evening, September through April, from the Delhi Cantonment Station in southwestern New Delhi. It returns the following Wednesday morning.

The October-March fare is $350 per day per person double occupancy, $485 per person single, $285 triple, with half-fare for children ages 5 to 12. The fare includes meals and soft drinks; one bottle of wine per cabin; afternoon teas and snacks; transfers; entrance fees; elephant, camel, boat and rickshaw rides; and guided tours. Figure at least $100 per couple for tips.

Although it is not advertised, you can arrange to join or leave the trip at any point for a proportionately reduced fare. You could, for example, hop on in Jaipur, then get off in Agra for an extended visit to the Taj Mahal.

WHEN TO GO: The coolest months in New Delhi and Rajasthan are December and January, though fog may also hamper visibility or delay the trains. Reduced fares apply in September (the wet end of monsoon season) and April (very hot weather). A surcharge applies for trips around Christmas and New Year's.

BOOKING: We made all travel arrangements by email, using Sadhana Travel Services (301 Skipper Corner, 88 Nehru Pl., New Delhi, 011-91-11-516-18278, sadhi@vsnl.com). Any U.S. travel agent can also book the trip, or you can do it yourself through Palace on Wheels. The train fills up two to three months in advance, but persistence can often land a spot.

INFORMATION: Palace on Wheels, 888-463-4299, www.palacesonwheels.net.

-- Joanne Omang