Bengal Despatch 2 & 4:

The Holy Ganges

6 to 8 NIGHTS

From USD 1,680 per person

Choose your itinerary:

 

UPSTREAM ITINERARY

DAY 1

Take a 4 hr (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. There are plentiful remains of mosques, palaces and gateways. 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, we leave Farakka and sail out into the Ganges proper, almost sea-like here just above the great Farakka Barrage. We sail upstream for much of the morning before anchoring at Rajmahal, one of those places that feature in no guidebook and yet offer both interest and atmosphere. Once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar 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 we shall explore. We sail on as far as Manihari Ghat.

 

DAY 3

This morning, continue cruising upstream, passing the confluence with the Kosi river which flows down from Nepal. We 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, onwards to Kehilgaon or Colganj, where our ship awaits us. We sail on, passing close to the island shrine with both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples, and once a centre of the murderous Thug sect.

 

DAY 4

We sail this morning along a stretch of the 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. 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, while there will be a chance to stroll around the local market.

 

DAY 5

We sail on to Monghyr. Monghyr possesses a large Mughal fort, as well as an East India Company cemetery, now with villagers living among the grandiose tombs. We shall also visit the Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, as well as the Sita Kund hot springs, before continuing our cruise upstream.

DAY 6

This morning, we pass under the great bridge at Mokameh, where the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life in charge of the ferry which operated here earlier. Land to visit a bankside village and stretch our legs. We arrive by evening at Barh.
 

DAY 7

Today, there is an excursion to Nalanda, recently included as a UNESCO World Heritage site where visits would 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. Return in the evening to Barh to reboard our ship.

 

DAY 8

Today is a day spent cruising upstream. At some stage, we shall pause at a bankside village and stretch our legs. We 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, we 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

DAY 1

Arrive at Patna by road, rail or air; transfer from airport or railway station to ship is included in the cruise cost. Embark on your ship from 4pm onwards, and enjoy dinner on board.

 

DAY 2

This morning, we 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 our ship and pass near the old East India Company opium warehouses to cruise downstream, mooring for the evening at Barh.

DAY 3

Today, there is an excursion to Nalanda, recently included as a UNESCO World Heritage site where visits would 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. We return in the evening to our ship which will have sailed down to the great bridge at Mokameh, where earlier the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing.

DAY 4

Today we sail down to Monghyr. Monghyr possesses a fine Mughal fort, as well as an East India Company Cemetery, now with villagers living amongst the tombs. We shall also visit the Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion as well as the Sitakund hot springs, before continuing our 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

We sail this morning, along a stretch of the river where Gangetic Dolphin may be seen, to Bhagalpur, a centre of silk production. Here, we shall visit the elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Cleveland as well as a silk-weaving village. We sail on passing close to the island shrine at Colganj, with both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples, and once a centre of the murderous Thug sect. Close to here we visit idyllic Bateshwar with 6th century Hindu carvings and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. We anchor for the night near the confluence with the Kosi, coming down from Nepal.

DAY 6

We sail downstream this morning to Rajmahal, beneath the Rajmahal Hills. Rajmahal is one of those places, so common in India, which feature in no guidebook and yet offer both interest and atmosphere; once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar 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 we shall 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 4 hr (approx.) train journey to Kolkata. Our representatives will meet you on arrival and transfer you to a central Kolkata hotel.  

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

These itineraries, including cruises and approximate durations, are subject to river and weather conditions.

ACCOMMODATION

The 'City of Light' cruises are offered only in the Boutique Expedition cruising style.

BOUTIQUE EXPEDITION CRUISING

with ABN Rajmahal

Our selection of boutique cruise ships are comfortable, contemporary, and celebratory of Assam and Bengal's rich regional heritage. They are designed to reflect a sense of homecoming to the region: the unique objets d'art and handicrafts aboard the ships have been carefully collected and curated over the years, and the locally made furniture and textiles are a product of traditional craftsmanship and modern design intervention.

As such, each boutique ship was designed to be purposefully distinct in its style, with interesting stories that accompany each ship's décor.

ABN Rajmahal has 22 cabins: 14 spacious twin/double cabins on the upper deck; four twin/double cabins on the main deck; and 4 single cabins on the main deck for which we charge no supplement.

 

All cabins have en suites with W.C., French balconies, a writing desk and chair, mini-fridge, individual climate control, and storage space.

 

There are three cabin categories on ABN Rajmahal:

UPPER DECK TWIN/DOUBLE-BEDDED CABIN

This cabin is located on the upper deck, offering travellers a better vantage point from which to watch rural India glide by.

MAIN DECK TWIN/DOUBLE-BEDDED CABIN

This cabin is identical to the upper deck cabins, but it is located on the main deck instead.

MAIN DECK SINGLE-BEDDED CABIN

Featuring a single bed, this cabin is ideal for solo travellers, for which we charge no supplement.

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