India River Cruises & The Ganges
India might not be the first place that you think of when it comes to river cruising but a Ganges river cruise is an ideal way to see India with ease. Take in the stunning scenery of villages and countryside while sailing aboard a comfortable boat, complete with all the amenities you will need. With a blend of history, religion, and daily life, you will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for this colorful, dynamic country.
Points of interest on India river cruises vary by company, but some include a visit to Mother Teresa’s orphanage and home in Kolkata, the one of a kind Taj Mahal, and the cultural village of Mayapur, just to name a few. India can be overwhelming and intimidating for travelers, but with a river cruise, it’s easy to see the sites and relax. Locally inspired cuisine allows you to taste the flavors of the country while socializing with fellow passengers.
For centuries wanderers have journeyed to the Indian river banks seeking knowledge and wisdom. Since ancient times, India has a rich heritage of travel and trade networked along the great rivers like the Ganges and Indus along with their tributaries.
Antara Cruises is the leader of river cruising in India. The company has a fleet of ships purpose-built for navigating the waterways of India. The independent indigenous family firm has established India as a world-class river cruise destination since 2002.
“Antara,” derived from the Sanskrit word “Antar” means “the difference.” This difference is present in the company’s service to guests and the destination, distinctiveness in gastronomy and mythologies, and also in self learning and wellbeing.
Operating Period: January – December
Antara’s ships are handcrafted in Indian traditions and designed to operate the challenging and sometimes shallow waterways of Indian river systems. Showcasing local textiles and artwork, the ships honor the region’s ancient rivers and their intricate ecologies with an emphasis on wellness, farm-to-table produce, physical activity, and relaxation.
Secrets of the Sundarbans & Europe on the Ganges – 7 Nights
Stops in: Kolkata, Namkhana, Sudhanyakhali, Chandernagore, Bandel, Serampore
Overnights: Sundarbans National Park, Ganges Delta & River Ganges
Vessel: Ganges Voyager
This seven-night roundtrip sailing takes you from Kolkata into the heart of the Ganges Delta: the largest mangrove ecosystem and estuarine national park in the world, the Sundarbans UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich and abundant in flora and fauna. On the banks of the Ganges, European powers established colonies to trade, preach and cultivate while local rulers, saints, farmers, musicians and writers created new ways of life by meeting trade, tastes and European power. Explore the French colonial buildings along the promenade and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Chandernagore, Imambara of Bandel, Danish Tavern and St. Olav’s Church of Serampore.
Festivals & Artisans of Bengal – 7 Nights
Stops in: Kolkata, Bally Bridge, Bandel, Kalna, Mayapur, Fulia
Overnights: River Ganges
Vessel: Bengal Ganga
This seven-night Kolkata roundtrip sailing takes you into the heart of Bengal to explore the rich architecture and artisanal villages of the pristine countryside. Meet the craftsmen who bankrupted empires, where artisans, weavers, writers and poets inspired the Bengali Renaissance. As you cruise, follow the faint sounds of village weaving on the river and learn about the flourishing ancient craftsmanship, an ode to the communities that settled here, turning the river islands into renowned centers for fabrics, textiles, brassware, silverware and pottery.
Incredible Benares – 3 Nights
Stops in: Varanasi Ghats
Overnights: River Ganges in Varanasi
Vessel: Nauka Vilas
Varanasi – virtually unrevealed.
Varanasi, or Benaras (also known as Kashi), is one of the oldest living cities in the world; explore the prominence in Hindu mythology in the city of temples, religion, art, culture, tradition, education and much more.
Bhitarkanika: Amazon of the East – 3 Nights
Stops in: Gupti, Bhitarkanika National Park, Dangamala, Habali Khati
Overnights: Brahmani & Baitarani River Systems
Vessel: Kalinga Catamarans
Sail into the heart of the Bhitarkanika estuarine region viewed from the comforts of your suite to enjoy this spectacular work of nature; the virgin stretched beaches, lush green mangroves, migrating birds and turtles, the estuarine crocodiles, meandering water courses, tranquil surroundings intercepted by the chirping of birds highlight the ever embracing nature.
27 River Journey – Uttar Pradesh to Assam via Bangladesh – Longest River Cruise in the World
Countries visited: India, Bangladesh
Stops in: Multiple Ports including Varanasi, Ghazipur, Vikramshila, Murshidabad, Kolkata, Mongla, Dhaka, & Guwahati.
Overnights: En-route sailing 27 rivers
I. Incredibly on the Ganges ( Varanasi to Kolkata ) – 21 Nights
Ii. India & Bangladesh ( Kolkata to Dibrugarh ) – 31 Nights
Iii. Ganges & Brahmaputra (Varanasi to Dibrugarh ) – 53 Nights
Vessel: Ganga Vilas
After two decades of research, starting September 2022 this grand cruise will provide the opportunity to traverse 27 rivers across almost 3000 miles of South Asia aboard a single purpose built all-suite ship, making it the longest river cruise in recent history. This epic sailing will feature immersive experiences of numerous world heritage sites, colonial cities, forgotten empires, artisan villages, and the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Embarking in Prayagraj (Allahabad) on the incredible Ganges, Ganga Vilas will sail from West to East and return twice a year. From Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest living cities, the journey will proceed to sites such as the Tomb of Lord Cornwallis, ancient Buddhist universities, then moor for a visit to a palace of a thousand doors, sailing further to colonial trading outposts on the lower Ganges, textiles villages that bankrupted empires, and the brilliant Victoria Memorial in the grand city of Kolkata, the great financial and political capital of British India.
From Kolkata, Ganga Vilas will traverse Sundarbans National Park, the world’s largest mangrove forest, visit floating markets and world heritage cities, before arriving in Dhaka, Bangladesh. From Dhaka, the ship will sail through rural landscapes along the Brahmaputra with the Himalayas in the background and arrive in Guwahati. Here passengers visit craft villages, see the abundant wildlife including tigers and rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, experience the rich religious life on Majuli, the world’s largest river island, and finally arrive at Dibrugarh.
Extension: Land of the Taj Mahal – 5 Nights
Based in a 300-year-old historic heritage garden of the erstwhile princely state & Kingdom of Bharatpur, you explore the living Rajasthani traditions, museums, forts, Keoladeo National Park, along with day visits to Mughal Agra and the Taj Mahal.
Extension: Land of the Thunderbolt – 5 Nights
Stops in: Darjeeling, West Bengal
Overnights: Private Tea Estate
Visit an organic estate that grows the “Champagne” of all teas and explore a vibrant hill town with unique Himalayan culture of mountains, hill railway and monasteries.
Extension: Land of the Jungle Book – 5 Nights
Stops in: Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Overnights: The Bagh Kanha
Inspiration for Kipling’s Jungle Book you immerse in a pristine jungle landscape with wildlife safaris for Tigers and Birds, along with indigenous tribal cultures, from your forest retreat in the heart of central India.
Extension: Land of the Thunder Dragon – 5 Nights
Country visited: Bhutan
Stops in: Paro, Thimpu
Overnights: Traditionally Inspired Accommodation
Immerse yourself in the incredible rolling mountains, rich buddhist culture, living traditions and vibrant mythologies on your journey to experience the last Himalayan Mountain Kingdom.
Also be sure to check out Uniworld’s and Avalon’s itineraries. As mentioned both companies charter Ankara’s river boats.