Tailor-made Tour 9 days from £2475 per person

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  Places Visited: Delhi, Patna, Barh, Nalanda, Mokameh, Monghyr, Jahangira Island, Bhagalpur, Bateshwar, Rajmahal, Farakka, Kolkata

Offering an insight into rural Bengal and neighbouring Bihar, the cruises on the Ganges are six nights downstream or eight nights upstream from Patna or Farakka – or vice versa. Explore ancient Buddhist sites at Nalanda and Bodh Gaya, the Mughal ruins at Rajmahal, and the East India Company relics at Monghyr and Patna. Available during the winter months only, these cruises combine well with the ones on the Hughli to make for an exciting voyage through totally undiscovered territory.

Operated by the pioneering Assam Bengal Navigation Company, three colonial-style steamers ply these ancient waterways, pausing at the historic sights, wildlife parks and cultural centres that line the riverbanks. The perspective yielded by these journeys is unique. The rural areas traversed have changed little in essence since the days of the East India Company, several of whose ruined trading posts rise from the paddy fields and sandbars.

Apart from being an elegant craft, the boats are handsomely furnished and extremely comfortable throughout. The cabins are air-conditioned and en-suite. A wood-lined bar and dining room provide a comfortable space to relax in, while a large canopied deck is perfect for watching life drift past on and alongside the water – a wonderfully relaxing way to experience parts of the world rarely visited by outsiders.

The 6-night downstream Patna to Farakka cruise, with Delhi and Kolkata is highlighted here.

The 8-night upstream Farakka to Patna cruise, with Kolkata and Delhi, is also possible at a supplement.


Holiday Types

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 at Delhi airport and transferred to your hotel, the Taj Mahal, New Delhi, for the night. The remainder of your day will be at leisure.

Delhi, India’s capital, is home to an estimated 20 million people. A compelling hotch-potch of ancient and modern, it holds the vestiges of at least seven great urban centres: Afghan mausolea crumble on traffic roundabouts; millennia-old fort walls stand next to eight-lane expressways; and Sufi shrines huddle beside concrete flyovers.

More amazing still is the fact that so many cultural transmissions from Delhi’s past eras endure. Five-star hotels host recitals by ghazal singers, sarod players and kathak dancers whose arts have been painstakingly preserved since the days of Mughals. Echoes of the British Raj abound, too, from 1930s elegance of the Imperial Hotel to the uniforms of the sentries strutting down Raj Path.

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Day 2
Delhi, Patna

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the domestic airport for your onward connection to Patna. You will be met and transferred to your awaiting ship, the ABN Rajmahal, on arrival. Embark on the ship at 4 p.m.

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Day 3
Patna, Barh

This morning takes you on a tour of Patna, visiting the extraordinary 18th-century Gola Ghar granary, the great Sikh Temple and the rich collections of the State Museum. Returning to the ship, you pass near the old East India Company opium warehouses and cruise down to moor for the evening at Barh.

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Day 4
Nalanda, Mokameh

Today there is an excursion to the excavated Buddhist monastery and stupa at Nalanda and the adjoining museum, then on to the picturesque Pawapuri Jain temple. Return to the ship in the evening, which will have sailed down to the great bridge at Mokameh, where the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing. ​

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Day 5
Monghyr, Jahangira Island

Today, you will sail down to Monghyr. Monghyr possesses a fine Mughal fort and an East India Company cemetery, now with villagers living amongst the tombs. You will also visit Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, and the Sitakund hot springs before continuing to cruise downstream to anchor near Jahangira Island at Sultanganj, a place of pilgrimage with early Hindu carvings.

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Day 6
Bhagalpur, Bateshwar

A chance this morning to spot Gangetic Dolphins and you sail to Bhagalpur, a centre of silk production. Here you will visit the elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Cleveland, as well as a silk-weaving village. There is also a trip to Bateshwar, with 6th century Hindu carvings and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. The ship anchors for the night near the confluence with the Kosi, coming down from Nepal.

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Day 7
Rajmahal, Farakka

Continue to sail downstream this morning to Rajmahal, beneath the Rajmahal Hills. Once known as Akbarnagar, the Mughal Emperor Akbar founded the town as his eastern capital. Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj Mahal, spent much of his youth here. There are remains of palaces, forts and mosques submerged in vegetation, which you can explore before continuing on down to Farakka Barrage.

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Day 8

Disembark in Farakka and continue your journey onto Kolkata by road, where you check in at your hotel, The Oberoi Grand for the night.

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 economic stagnation that has blighted this sprawling, charismatic metropolis since Independence is often attributed to the fact is was governed for 34 years by the world’s longest surviving democratically elected Communist government. Kolkata’s left-leaning political scene is very much a part of its rich intellectual heritage. The so-called Bengali Resistance of the 19th and 20th centuries played a seminal role in India’s Independence movement, and the city has spawned liberal traditions in film, art and literature, as well as a string of Nobel Laureates.

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.

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Day 9

The day will be at leisure in Kolkata. You will be escorted to the airport in time for your return flight home.

Accommodation Options

Tailor-made Tour 9 days from £2475 per person

What's included

✓   Arrival and departure transfers 

✓  Eight nights of accommodation, including six nights on the cruise, one night in Delhi and one night in Kolkata.

(If you choose the upstream cruise, you will cruise will be two nights longer, with a supplementary cost)

✓   All excursions on board with English-speaking guides

✓   Meal Plan: Full board on the cruise and Bed & Breakfast in Delhi and Kolkata.


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