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An extraordinary summer holiday in India

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

We operate an exclusive summer cruise to the "City of Light" on the Ganges, which is a blend of an extraordinary spiritual experience in Varanasi and deep insights into rural India. In addition to the spiritual and cultural experiences, sip cocktails on the sundeck as you enjoy musical performances; take a cooking class onboard; spend time with children in the villages; stroll through markets; catch up on reading in the saloon; and enjoy the spa services onboard.

Assam Bengal Navigation Co. is the first and only river cruise operator to exclusively cruise in this significant stretch of the Ganges River, all the way up to Varanasi. ABN Rajmahal is the only cruise ship that takes you to Varanasi; this stretch of the river is otherwise inaccessible on a cruise ship during the peak (winter) season of India due to low water levels.

The Telegraph UK with Bob Maddams featured our very first cruise into Varanasi, click here to find the article with video.

Why do we operate in the summer knowing it is low-season in India?

Indian summers may be warm but this is also the time of the year when nature comes alive. Sail past lush green fields, fishing boats in a teeming river and villagers going about their usual routines. Moreover, visiting Varanasi is a must-do on any Indian itinerary but cruising there in comfort is a wonderful experience in itself. Combining this summer cruise on the Ganges with Ladakh in north India will be an experience of a lifetime!

Who travels to India for the summer cruise and why?


The ghats (or river-front steps) of Varanasi draw thousands of visitors each year. The ghats are where all the rituals of life and death take place, making it the central point of interest in all of Varanasi. This cruise is a unique opportunity to see and experience Varanasi up close. The ship will also sail to the city's ancient forts and palaces, which are otherwise difficult to reach by road. All the great civilisations of the world have been built on river valleys and a Ganges River cruise is an extraordinary glimpse into the lifeline of incredible India.


As this cruise operates in the low tourist season in India, expect incredible value at very special rates. You can also combine our river cruises with palaces in Rajasthan that offer low season rates.


Beach resorts are a fun experience but why not spend a culturally enriching holiday instead? European school holidays in the months of August and September mean that a summer cruise to Varanasi that's full of history, culture, fun and relaxation is a perfect choice.

"The City of Light" cruise on the Ganges river only operates in August and September when the water level is high in this area

What should I expect the summer weather in India (specifically on the Ganges River) to be like?

A little rain never hurt anybody! Expect a humid climate and after a few light sporadic showers, the weather cools down, and mother nature cultivates bounty of beauty. We do our best to work with the weather to ensure that our guests have the optimal experience thus taking care to tailor the small details to the best of our abilities.

Do watch our in-house videos of this particular summer cruise taken in August 2017. To view, click here.

This is an in-house video taken during 'The City of Light' cruise last year in August 2017.


1. Guided visit to historic old monuments that very few have seen during their trip to Varanasi (not on any regular tourist tour)

2. View of Varanasi in the early morning from your ceiling to floor panoramic cabin windows.

3. Experience the evening Ganga aarti (religious ceremony worshipping the Goddess Ganges) in Varanasi.

4. Morning boat ride that will take you up close to witness the Varanasi ghats come alive.

5. Village walks through lush green pastures.

6. Encounter local village life along the river Ganges, far beyond any tourist route.

7. Tea with a local family.

8. Cultural performances on the Ganges River.

9. Cycle rickshaw (tuk-tuk) ride through local markets.

10. Chilling on the sundeck with a cup of tea or cocktails as you cruise during the day is how we define relaxation.

The villages on the banks of the Ganges River as you sail from Varanasi to Patna - In-house video of August 2017 summer.

After your glorious experience on the Ganges River, we recommend spending few days in Ladakh to optimise your summer holiday experience in India. We personally enjoy the beauty in the contrast of the river journey on the Ganges to the vast beautiful landscape of Ladakh, it is truly an incomparable experience. In the context of religion, you will learn and see first-hand how Hinduism and Buddhism are interwoven into the culture of India.

Ladakh is also great for adventurers who are interested in hiking. Ask your travel agent for the best options tailored to your interests.

Ladakh is our favourite summer experience besides our highlight "City of Light" Ganges river cruise.

The Himalayas is the source of our two majestic rivers of the Indian Sub-continent, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. We will share videos of our Ladakh experience in our YouTube channel soon. Stay tuned!


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