Imagine travelling on a luxury cruise on a 51-day sojourn along the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, sailing through 27 small rivers, across five States and two countries! Come December, the 18-suite Ganga Vilas by Antara Luxury River Cruises will embark on the journey from Kashi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam via the Sunderbans and Bangladesh.
According to Raj Singh, Founder and Chairman of Antara Luxury River Cruises, the 4,000 km to be covered will be the longest river journey in the world. The cruise will touch some of the world’s heritage sites and will have an offshore and onshore experience each day.
“We have been working on this project for nearly four years. The ship has been designed in a way keeping in mind the draft in the river system. We have already been operating between Varanasi-Kolkata and Kolkata-Sundarbans. We have done it in different sections now we will be connecting it. There would be challenges but we are well prepared, “Singh told BusinessLine.
Starting at Varanasi, with short day trips to the sites along the way, the cruise will meander the Ganges’ waters, stopping at world heritage sites and ancient places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and into West Bengal for deep insights into its colonial influences and regional traditions.
The ship would enter Bangladesh after sailing through the world’s largest mangrove forest, the UNESCO-protected Sundarbans. Moving from the floating markets of Barisal onwards to Bagerhat which houses the famed 60 dome mosque to Sonargaon, the heritage town in the country, the cruise will continue from Dhaka into the Jamuna to the north of Bangladesh and turn east to re-enter India at Dhubri, embracing the Brahmaputra for the Assam leg of the trip, sailing through the wild and numerous cultural sites along the way.
Built in the mid-20th century modern style, Antara Ganga Vilas, which is considered to be a luxurious amalgamation of refined texture and simple elegance, would provide a perfect opportunity for anyone looking to explore South Asian culture through some of its most ancient regions and systems.
Perfect for leisure travellers, history buffs, culture enthusiasts, and nature lovers, the cruise would allow for a hop-on and hop-offoption for those who would like to travel only on specific segments.
“The historic route has been finalised with the support, assistance, and cooperation of the India and Bangladesh governments that are working together to ensure seamless travel between the two countries,” he said.
Exploring more routes
The company is planning to start a luxury cruise service in Odisha by November this year to take people on a tour of Bhitarkanika National Park. It is also working on some other destinations, including Kerala, Goa, and Kashmir moving forward. It plans to upgrade its cataraman for the trip through Bhitarkanika National Park.
“There is a lot of potential for luxury river cruise tourism, but it needs to be done in the proper way. Each river has its own character, so you need to study it and build a ship suited for each state. It cannot be a volume game because of the size of the river, and each river system has a carrying capacity. We need a comprehensive policy on river cruising to promote it,” he pointed out.