The Way of the Water: What one can expect from MV Ganga Vilas, the world's longest river cruise

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Today is a big day for India’s tourism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the MV Ganga river cruise from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. The vessel will then embark on the world’s longest river cruise and the journey will culminate in Assam’s Dibrugarh via Bangladesh.

The ‘Ganga Vilas Cruise’, operated by Antara Luxury River Cruises will set sail from Varanasi, covering a total distance of 3,200 km. The ship will pass through Kolkata and Dhaka before dropping anchor in Bogibeel in Dibrugarh.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath earlier on Thursday said that the inauguration of the Ganga Vilas river cruise will bring about a new era for Varanasi. “Along with being the biggest centre of education and health, Kashi is now ready to be connected by land as well as waterways. The journey of 52 days covering a distance of 3,200 km is starting from here,” he said.

Let’s take a closer look.

Features of the ship

The MV Ganga Vilas vessel is 62 metres in length, 12 metres in width and comfortably sails with a draft of 1.4 metres. It is also the epitome of luxury. The ship features a mid-20th century modern style and has 18 suites that include furniture and lines made indigenously while some of the pieces are also made along the river Ganga.

The interior of the vessel is washed in vibrant colours which complement the vivid cultures of the regions the cruise will sail through. Shades of magenta, blue and yellow are all one can witness throughout the 51-day voyage.

According to CNN Traveller, the large floor-to-ceiling windows will allow passengers onboard to enjoy the beauty of the river throughout the day. A panoramic lounge, an observation pavilion and a dining room will enhance the travelling experience for travellers.

Apart from the above-mentioned features that define the luxuriousness of the ship, Ganga Vilas Cruise also has an open sundeck to lounge in, and a spa to let passengers relax during their journey.

Also read: Inside MV Ganga Vilas, the luxury ship that will sail the world’s longest river cruise

Travellers will also be able to relish lip-smacking food that is inspired by the various places the ship travels through.

Keeping the environment in mind, the ship also incorporates technologies that will reduce pollution and control noise to ensure its journey stays clean and sustainable.

The ticket for the cruise can be booked from the website of Antara river cruises and cost approximately Rs 25,000 a day — a total coming up to more than Rs 12.59 lakh

The voyage

The 51-day journey will commence from Varanasi and the cruise ship will reach Patna on the eighth day after passing through Ghazipur, Buxar and Ramnagar.

From Patna, the ship will take 12 days to reach West Bengal’s capital Kolkata on Day 20. The very next day it will sail into a different country, Bangladesh. Passengers will stay in the neighbouring country for 15 days before entering India again to reach Bogibeel in Dibrugarh.

The cruise will be able to cover almost 1,100 km in Bangladesh with the help of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route, which has already opened up trade and transit channels between the two neighbouring countries. The Route also connects the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.

Don’t want to travel the full journey? No problem, because the trip also provides options to cater to the needs and choices of the passengers. Sonowal said, “The cruises are of different kinds — luxury, expedition, etc. The tourists also come with different mindsets — some want to stay for the full journey while some may move from one point to another. The service will facilitate all kinds of tourists. Moreover, with the amendment to Indian Vessel Act, cruise lines would have a national permit to move seamlessly across states.”

Along the way, it will stop at 50 tourist destinations which include World Heritage Sites, national parks, and river ghats

The experience

The trip is the perfect opportunity for travel enthusiasts to witness the many cultures of the various stops the ship is going to make.

One highlight of the tour includes the infamous and highly revered ‘Ganga Aarti’ on the banks of the river Ganga. The trip will give a chance to history buffs to learn about the impacts of French and Dutch influences on West Bengal’s architecture.

The village of Matiari in West Bengal will educate passengers on board about creating handmade brassware and textiles. On selected locations, the cruise will also stop for parties with folk music and dance.

At Bagerhat, one of the many locations of the tour, travellers will get a chance to see Khan Jahan Ali’s 60-dome mosque built during the Bengal sultanate period.

Raj Singh, the chairman of the company told Financial Express, “Each experience has been personally vetted and designed by me for fellow enthusiastic travellers. The historical route has been finalised with the support, assistance and cooperation of the governments of India and Bangladesh, which are working together to ensure seamless travel between the two countries.”

Other river cruises in India

Even though it’s the world’s largest, the Ganga Vilas Cruise is not the only cruise ship sailing through Indian rivers.

The Brahmaputra River Cruise is a 10-night cruise travel between Guwahati and Jorhat-Dibrugarh. The cruise passes through the erstwhile kingdom of Ahom kings, Sibsagar, Majuli island and Kaziranga National Park. The trip also includes heritage tours around Tezpur and Sualkuchi, the two famous silk-weaving villages.

In the Western part of India, the Mandovi River Cruise lets tourists to experience the Goan culture. Although the trip is just a couple of hours long, the cruise ship offers an exciting atmosphere that is filled with folk songs, dances and cuisine as passengers sail through Chorao and Divar Islands, according to Times Travel.

Down south, the Mangalore River Cruise allows travellers to relax in the calm Phalguni River. The three-hour-long cruise takes its passengers through the coastal villages of Karnataka. The highlight of the cruise trip, however, is the Mangalorean cuisine that is served onboard.

With inputs from agencies

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The Way of the Water: What one can expect from MV Ganga Vilas, the world's longest river cruise
The Way of the Water: What one can expect from MV Ganga Vilas, the world's longest river cruise
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