BENGAL DESPATCH 2 & 4: THE HOLY GANGES

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THE HOLY GANGES

These cruises along the main stream of the Ganges operate between Farakka and Patna, or vice versa. Wander through the Mughal ruins at Rajmahal, explore East India Company relics at Patna and Monghyr, and discover the monuments of Buddha’s homeland, including Bodh Gaya. With such a wealth of cultural, historic and religious sites, the region offers an insight into India’s richly diverse character and is an exciting voyage through largely uncharted territory.

 

Choose your itinerary:

Tour Start Location

FARAKKA / PATNA

Tour End Location

PATNA  / FARAKKA 

 

UPSTREAM ITINERARY: FARAKKA TO PATNA

Day 1

Take a 4hr (approx.) train journey from Kolkata to Farakka in the afternoon, and then a short road transfer to the ship. Guests joining independently at Farakka can board the ship from midday onwards.

For those taking both Bengal Despatch 1 and 2 cruises, a full day excursion by road takes you to Gaur. This quiet, deserted place was once one of India’s great cities, first under the Hindus in the 12th century, then as the Muslim capital of Eastern India from the 14th to the 16th century, and its plentiful remains of mosques, palaces and gateways are testament to this diverse history. Later, travel on through the town of Malda, or English Bazar, to Pandua where you will visit the great 14th century Adina Mosque before returning to Farakka where your ship will have passed through the lock at the barrage.

Day 2

​This morning you’ll leave Farakka and sail out into the almost sea-like Ganges proper, just above the great Farakka Barrage. You sail upstream for much of the morning before anchoring at Rajmahal, one of those places that feature in no guidebook, yet offer both interest and atmosphere in abundance. Once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his eastern capital and 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 sailing on as far as Manihari Ghat.

Day 3

​This morning you’ll continue cruising upstream, passing the confluence with the Kosi river which flows down from Nepal. Arrive at idyllic Bateshwar, with its 6th century Hindu carvings, and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. Later, you continue onwards to Kehilgaon or Colganj, where the ship awaits you. Sailing on, you’ll pass close to an island shrine with both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples, once the centre of the murderous Thug sect.

Day 4

Setting sail this morning you travel along a stretch of river where the endangered Gangetic Dolphin may be seen. Land at Bhagalpur, a centre of silk production, to visit the silk-weaving village and an elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Clevland, the collector and magistrate of the town back in the day. You’ll then continue on to Jahangira Island at Sultanganj, a place of pilgrimage with early Hindu carvings in the rock. On shore, another picturesque rock is topped with a mosque, and the stop offers a chance to stroll around the vibrant local market.

DAY 5

Today you’ll sail on to Monghyr, with its large Mughal fort and East India Company cemetery, where villagers now live among the grandiose tombs. You’ll also visit the Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, and the Sita Kund hot springs, before continuing your cruise upstream.

DAY 6

This morning, you pass under the great bridge at Mokameh, where the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life in charge of the ferry which operated here in days gone by. Land to visit a bankside village and stretch your legs before sailing on to arrive by evening at Barh.

DAY 7

Today brings an excursion to Nalanda, recently included as a UNESCO World Heritage site where visits include the excavated great Buddhist monastery and stupa along with the adjoining museum. Nalanda is also the world’s oldest seat of learning, once welcoming over 10,000 students at its height. Later, visit the marbled Pawapuri Jain temple in the middle of a lake before returning in the evening to Barh to reboard the ship.

DAY 8

Today is spent cruising upstream, catching up on reading, chatting with new friends, and watching life unfold on the riverbank. There will be time for a stop at a bankside village where you can stretch your legs and explore this rural area. You’ll arrive in the evening at Patna, the state capital of Bihar, and moor close to the old East India Company opium warehouses.

DAY 9

​ ​This morning, you’ll take a tour of Patna and visit the 18th century Gola Ghar granary, the great Sikh gurdwara and the rich collections of the State Museum. Disembark late in the morning and transfer to the airport or station (transfer included). Alternatively, create your own arrangements for road or rail travel to Varanasi, Bodh Gaya or Nepal.

DOWNSTREAM ITINERARY: PATNA TO FARAKKA

Day 1


​Arrive at Patna by road, rail or air and you’ll be transferred from the airport or railway station to your ship. Embark from 4pm onwards and enjoy dinner on board.

Day 2

This morning, you’ll take a tour of Patna, visiting the 18th century Gola Ghar granary, the great Sikh gurdwara and the rich collections of the State Museum. Return to your ship and pass near the old East India Company opium warehouses to cruise downstream, mooring for the evening at Barh.

Day 3

Today brings an excursion to Nalanda, recently included as a UNESCO World Heritage site where visits include the excavated great Buddhist monastery and stupa along with the adjoining museum. Nalanda is also the world’s oldest seat of learning, once welcoming over 10,000 students at its height. Later, you’ll visit the marbled Pawapuri Jain temple in the middle of a lake. You return in the evening to your ship, which will have sailed down to the great bridge at Mokameh, where the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing.

Day 4

Today you’ll sail down to Monghyr, with its large Mughal fort and East India Company cemetery, where villagers now live among the grandiose tombs. You’ll also visit Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, and the Sita Kund hot springs, before continuing your cruise downstream to anchor near Jahangira Island at Sultanganj, a place of pilgrimage with early Hindu carvings in the rock. On shore, another picturesque rock is topped with a mosque.

DAY 5

Sailing on this morning, you journey along a stretch of the river where Gangetic Dolphin may be seen, to Bhagalpur, a centre of silk production. Here, you’ll visit the elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Clevland as well as a silk-weaving village. You sail on, passing close to the island shrine at Colganj, boasting both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples, and a darker past as the former home of the murderous Thug sect. Close to here you visit idyllic Bateshwar with 6th century Hindu carvings and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. You’ll anchor for the night near the confluence with the Kosi, which flows down from Nepal.

DAY 6

This morning you sail down to Rajmahal, beneath the Rajmahal Hills. Rajmahal is one of those places, so common in India, which feature in no guidebook, yet offer both interest and atmosphere in abundance. Once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as his eastern capital and 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’ll explore before continuing on down to the Farakka Barrage.

DAY 7

For those taking only Bengal Despatch 4, transfer to Farakka station in the morning for a 4hr (approx.) train journey to Kolkata. ABN representatives will meet you on arrival and transfer you to a central Kolkata hotel.

​Those taking Bengal Despatch 5, remain on board for an excursion to Gaur and Pandua.

NOTE
This itinerary, including the cruise and approximate driving durations, is subject to river and weather conditions.

Tour Map
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ABN RAJMAHAL

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