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Set sail on the world's longest river cruise journey

A fully decorated Ghat with flowers are seen on the bank of the river Ganges in Varanasi. Picture: AP

A fully decorated Ghat with flowers are seen on the bank of the river Ganges in Varanasi. Picture: AP

Published Jun 22, 2022


New Delhi - In December 2022, the world's longest river voyage, an epic 51-day cruise along the Ganges and Brahmaputra, will be launched by Antara Luxury River Cruises.

From Kashi (Uttar Pradesh) to Dibrugarh (Assam) via the Sunderbans and Bangladesh, you can sail on 27 small rivers, five states and two countries.

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The 51-day cruise aboard Antara's newest Art Deco boutique ship, Antara Ganga Vilas, is a fantastic opportunity for those wishing to explore South Asian culture in some of its oldest regions and systems.

Ideal for those on vacation, history buffs, culture buffs and nature lovers, the cruise also offers a hop-on, hop-off option for those who only wish to travel on certain segments.

Commenting on this unique itinerary, Raj Singh, pioneer in luxury river tourism and founding president of Antara Luxury River Cruises, said: "Each experience has been personally reviewed by me and designed for fellow avid travellers.“

The historic route has been completed with the backing, support and cooperation of the governments of India and Bangladesh, working together to ensure a smooth journey between the two countries.

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Singh is also a recognised authority on Indian wildlife and has written respected guides to the mammal, bird and aquatic life of the subcontinent.

During the trip, each day will have an experience at sea and an experience on land.

Beginning in Varanasi, with short day trips to sights along the way, the cruise meanders the waters of the Ganges, stopping at World Heritage sites and ancient sites in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and in West Bengal for an in-depth look at its colonial influences and regional traditions.

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Sailing through the largest mangrove forest in the world, the Unesco-protected Sundarbans, the ship arrives in Bangladesh. Shopping is available from the floating markets of Barisal to Bagerhat, home to the famous 60-domed mosque, to Sonargaon, the country's historic city.

The journey continues from Dhaka to Jamuna in northern Bangladesh, turning east to return to India at Dhubri, embracing the Brahmaputra for the Assam leg of the journey, sailing through wilderness and many sites culture along the way.

Explaining the wealth of experiences offered by the trip, Singh adds: "Our guests visit Matiari, where they see how brassware and textiles are handcrafted in the villages, and they walk the same site to archaeological sites that are over 2500 years old.

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“We visit Vikramshila, one of the largest Buddhist universities alongside Nalanda and Bhagalpur for its centuries-old traditions of Tussar silk weaving, the fascinating colonial, Dutch and French influences and the architecture of Inner Bengal, the wild and unspoiled beauty across the border from Bangladesh to Bangladesh India the Sunderbans, precious arts and crafts tours where guests can engage and converse with them - we have so carefully curated the entire trip, every stop and every experience.

“A real insight into understanding this special region while exploring the river landscapes to the phenomenal that the revered enjoy the offerings of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra."

Annapurna Garimella, art historian and director of Antara Cruises, reflects on the artisans and craftsmanship that lived along these ever-changing but seemingly eternal shores, adding: "Life and civilizations began along these rivers, and artistic expression is its strongest reflection. of a culture. The cruise explores so many of these facets, whether in food, textiles, architecture or agriculture. Navigating through this vast landscape is to immerse yourself in the culture of this country that we now call India."

Built in a mid-20th century modern style, the 18-suite Antara Ganga Vilas is a luxurious blend of refined structure and understated elegance.

Each room is inspired by a colour square painted by Bauhaus and Black Mountain teacher Josef Albers, and all fabrics, linens, furniture, and tableware are made in India, some even along the river.

Large floor-to-ceiling sash windows offer enchanting river views throughout the ship's vast spaces, enhancing the feeling of walking inside while observing a moving river landscape.