Tailor-made Tour 6 days from £1365 per person

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Assam Bengal Navigation is the original cruise operator on India’s Brahmaputra and Ganges Rivers, having navigated these mighty waterways since 2003.

A world away from the more well-trodden roads of India, the eastern corner remains untouched by mass tourism. From dancing monks to one-horned rhinos, colonial vestiges to terracotta temples, remote villages to bustling cities, travelling by boat opens up a treasure trove of history, culture, wildlife and religion.

Cruises on the Ganges and Lower Ganges (the Hooghly) offer a chance to witness life as lived in riverbank villages and towns, and marvel at ornate historic temples and monuments. A little-known but fascinating and culturally rich part of India, travelling by boat opens up areas otherwise largely inaccessible to the traveller.

Your journey on the Ganges will be aboard ABN Rajmahal. With 22 cabins in total, including 18 spacious twin/double cabins, and four single cabins for solo travellers, ABN Rajmahal is a boutique, modern ship whose decor reflects a sense of homecoming to the region of Bengal. Hand-blocked cotton fabrics with Indian-inspired designs, Bengali antiques and objets d'art as well as locally made furniture all add to the ship’s unique ambiance. All cabins have French balconies, offering panoramic views of life along the river.

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Cultural Holidays Wildlife Holidays River Cruising Holidays Luxury Train Holidays Family Holidays Honeymoons Beach Holidays Adventure Holidays


Suggested itinerary

Day 1

You will be met on arrival in Kolkata and transferred to your hotel The Oberoi Grand for 1 night. The remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Kolkata, or ‘Calcutta’ as it was known prior to 2001, is the capital of West Bengal state, and India’s third largest city, with a population of approximately 14.1 million. The trading post originally founded by the East India Company in the 17th century served as the country’s capital until 1911, and continues to be a major regional hub, albeit one with well-chronicled problems.

The backdrop to this vibrant cultural life is an architectural heritage spanning two-and-a-half centuries of colonial rule. Built to commemorate the British Raj at its zenith, the Victoria Memorial is Kolkata’s most grandiloquent monument – a stately blend of British, Mughal, Deccani, Moorish and Venetian styles whose marble domes soar majestically above the banks of the Hooghly River, surrounded by ornamental lakes and parched maidans.

Elsewhere in the city – connected by an efficient Metro system – lies a wealth of museums and art galleries, the famous Kali Ghat temple (after which the city was originally named) and hallowed turf of the Eden Gardens, high altar of Indian cricket. But above all, Kolkata is a place whose everyday sights frequently prove the most arresting: the flower sellers spreading out their wares in the dawn light at Mullick Ghat; the wrestlers, devotees of the Monkey God Hanuman, exercising on the nearby riverside steps; the overloaded barges of straw arriving at Kumartuli Ghat, where voluptuous deities are fashioned out of clay for the annual Durga Puja festival; and the streams of rickshaws, trucks and pedestrians pouring across Howrah Bridge at rush hours.

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Day 2

This morning you’ll be collected from your hotel to embark the ship by 11am. Sailing upstream, you pass the old Dutch settlement of Chinsura before landing to visit the imposing Imambara at Hooghly. With verses from the Koran written on its walls, the Imambara is an opportunity to step back in time and relive a slice of Islamic history in Bengal. After the visit, reboard your cruise and start sailing, leaving urban sprawl far behind.

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Day 3

Enjoy breakfast with an ever-changing view as you sail upstream, before landing at the country town of Kalna. Here you’ll take cycle rickshaws to see a group of some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temple with its concentric rings made up of 108 shrinelets. Continue on through the countryside to Mayapur to visit the vast new ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple which dominates the skyline. As the headquarters of ISKCON, or the Hare Krishna movement, the temple receives over a million singing and dancing devotees a year from around the world. Sail downstream as dusk falls to a mooring near Kalna.

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Day 4
Chandernagore, Kolkata

This morning you’ll sail downstream and visit a saree-weaving village before continuing on to Chandernagore. A French possession until 1950, this old colonial town offers a chance to visit an 18th century church as well as Dupleix Palace, the erstwhile residence of the Governor-General of French India and now a fascinating museum. Later, sail on down to Kolkata.

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Day 5

After breakfast, disembark and transfer to your hotel in Kolkata.

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Day 6
Kolkata, UK

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

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Tailor-made Tour 6 days from £1365 per person

What's included

✓   3 nights accommodation aboard your ABN cruise vessel and 2 nights at a five-star hotel in Kolkata

✓   All excursions on board the cruise with English-speaking guides

✓   Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in the tour itinerary

✓   Meal plan: Full board on the cruise and Bed & Breakfast in Kolkata

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