Our 7-night itinerary along India’s holiest river begins and ends in bustling Kolkata. Land Extensions to Delhi and Varanasi and/or to The Golden Triangle of Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi are available to enhance your India experience.
DAY 1 - KOLKATA / EMBARKATION
DAY 2 - KOLKATA / BANDEL
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The day continues with a visit to St. John's Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Kolkata, built in 1756. The tour features the oldest functioning pipe organ in India, a painting of the Last Summer by German artist, Johann Zoffany, and several tombs of British Generals who died during the Seige of Kolkata by Nawab Shriaj Ud Daula in 1756. Then we visit the recently renovated Victoria Memorial Museum, which houses the largest collection of British colonial historical artifacts in India.
We then return to the Ganges Voyager for lunch and begin our journey upstream. The river ship sails through areas where various European settlers had established East Indian Companies, leaving many remnants of their settlements from the 17th through 19th Centuries.
Later in the day, we take an excursion boat to the shore of Bandel. We visit the Hoogly Imambara, one of the famous Shiya pilgrimage centers in West Bengal, built in 1841 by Haji Mohammad Mahasin. The two-story building and surrounding rooms provide housing for pilgrims as well as classrooms, or Madrasa, that teach the Koran. The structure contains a Victorian-era clock with a winding key weighing 20kg. Large Persian chandeliers and lamps light the Imambara's stunning hallways and passages.
DAY 3 - KALNA
This morning we enjoy a rickshaw ride through the city center of Kalna en route to the enchanting Rajbari complex, with the highest concentration of temples in the region. Bengal's mixture of temple architecture includes the Nabakailas Temples. Built in 1809 by the Bardhaman Maharaja, the complex contains 108 eight slope-roofed temples – 74 in the outer circle here and another 34 making an inner circle.
Another complex features diverse architecture, including the Pratepeshwar Temple, built in 1849. Terra cotta plaques depict themes of Hindu epics, mythical life of Sree Chaitanya, images of Durga, and various aspects of day-to-day life in the region. Other temples on the site include Lalji Temple, the oldest in the complex (1739), and Krishnachandra Temple (1751).
DAY 4 - MATIARI
Guests may enjoy an early morning shore-side bazaar. Matiari is known for manufacturing beautiful handcrafted brass items, utilizing traditional methods passed down for generations. These master craftsmen utilize recycled copper to create exquisite pots, platters and more from their workshops in the village.
We then continue our journey upstream. We sail past the battlefield of Plassey, where Robert Clive of British East India Company defeated the Mogul Nawabs in 1757. The rulers of Bengal and their French allies established the company rule in India, which spread through much of South Asia for the next 190 years.
Day 5 - KHUSHBAGH / BARANAGAR / MURSHIDABAD
This morning we visit the charming village of Khushbagh, passing through scenic fields to arrive to the well-preserved mosque complex built by Nawab Ali-Wardi-Khan, housing his family's private mosque. His grandson Siraj-al-Dawlah was defeated by the British East India Company at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
After an on-board breakfast and morning sail, we visit the village of Baranagar. A lovely example of life in rural India, this village is home to several temples dating from the 18th century (1714 – 1793). Built by Rani (Queen) Bhabani, the landlady of Natore. The brick temples are considered to be among the best examples of Bengal terra cotta art. We then return to the ship for lunch and sail downstream.
This afternoon we pass by charming countryside villages filled where locals greet us from the banks. We approach Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem along the Ganges with dramatic whitewashed colonial era structures. We visit the Hazarduari Palace, built during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah (1824 –1838 AD) by an English architect, McLeod Duncan, in the Greek “Doric” style. The palace has more than a thousand real and false doors in the vast corridors, and is filled with colonial era antiques, artwork and manuscripts. Opposite to the Palace is a vast Imambara – built by the Nawab for Muslim worship.
We then take a scenic ride by local buggy to the Katra mosque. Built by the first Nawab of Murshidabad –Murshid Quli Khan in the 1724 – 25, this mosque has distinctive minarets from which the muezzin calls the faithful to Friday prayers. This evening we return for dinner and local cultural performance on-board.
DAY 6 - MAYAPUR
After a restful morning, observing the local life along the riverbanks, we stop in the village of Mayapur. Known as the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486) and considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna, this is the home of the Krishna Consciousness Movement also called ISKON. Guests can experience the fascinating culture of these followers and their ornate, colorful decorated statues of Krishna. Additionally, we will learn from Krishna followers leading the construction of the new temple located on the complex, due to be completed in 2016 during their Jubilee year. The new temple can be compared to the Vatican, and contains a 700,000 square-foot temple, measuring 340 feet high with a 75-foot domed planetarium. American Alfred B. Ford, the great grandson of Henry Ford, has funded more than 50% of the project.
DAY 7 - CHANDENAGOR
We begin the day in Chandenagor, established as a French colony in 1673. The French obtained permission from Ibrahim Khan, the then Nawab of Bengal to establish a trading post on the riverbanks of this city, which became a permanent French settlement in 1688. We will explore the French colonial buildings along the promenade, including the former French governor's residence (now converted to a museum that features an exhibition of items that depict life during this period). We then will visit the Sacred Heart Church of Chandenagor and an old French bakery still baking fresh baguettes daily. We then return to the ship and continue our journey downstream to Kolkata.
DAY 8 - KOLKATA / DISEMBARKATION
Following breakfast guests will disembark the vessel and transfer to the Kolkata Airport.