Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
Ganges and Brahmaputra River Cruises

Ganges and Brahmaputra River Cruises

India is a country of contrasts, from dynamic cities to traditional villages, spectacular forts to pilgrimage centres.

Our Indian river cruises on the holy Ganges and Brahmaputra offer an authentic glimpse of the real India. Longer itineraries include hotel stays in cities including New Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur. Discover the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, explore ancient Varanasi on the Ganges, and seek rhinoceros and tiger by elephant safari on a Brahmaputra river adventure in Assam.

Cruise Collection 2019 / 2020

About India River Cruises

Background

With tremendous assets in natural resources and an educated population, modern India is fast becoming an economic powerhouse in the world. With a 2016 population of 1.25 billion it will become the largest country within 10 years.

Occupiers through the years have made full use of India's resources, from the Moghuls in the last millennium to the British in the guise of the East India Company. With British rule switched to the Crown, traditions gained from the British are still noticeable in the independent India of today - it has the largest English speaking population in the world!

Food in India

Around 80% of the Indian population are Hindus, many of whom are vegetarian and who revere the cow. It follows that beef is not available in India, and although pork is possible it is not available in more muslim areas. Sheep and goat meat tend to be interchangeable, and many Westerners will therefore find chicken is the most reliably available meat.

Vegetables are of good quality, with lentils in frequent usage. Food can be spiced, from mild to hot. Fish from the Bay of Bengal is common in the Kolkata and Lower Ganges areas.

Rivers of India

The main rivers of India are the Brahmaputra (2900km) which flows through Assam in North East India and the Ganges (2500km) which flows through central India to the sea in the Bay of Bengal.

The Ganges is a holy river, worshipped by Hindus as the goddess Ganga, and along its length Hindus bathe in its holy waters. Some places are particularly holy, with Varanasi one of the most spiritual.

The Farakka Barrage on the India-Bangladesh border regulates the flow of the Ganges southward, into Bangladesh or as the Lower Ganges into West Bengal through Kolkata and to the sea. The land around the Lower Ganges is very fertile, and Ganges waters are used to irrigate crops such as rice, mustard, sugar cane, and potatoes. Clay from the river is used to make bricks, and its waters are also used for drinking, possibly after purification, and for washing.

River Cruises in India

Most Indian river cruises involve the Ganges, and the most common is a 7-night cruise on the Lower Ganges from Kolkata to Mushidabad and back. This gives a good perspective on life on and around the river, and viewing of settlements built by the British, French and Dutch as well as historical sites from the Moghuls and ancient empires. The varied sights include wealthy villages such as Kalna with thriving local markets, specialist metalworking villages like Matiari, and more spiritual locations such as Mayapur with its Krishna connections and Mushidabad.

Some one-way Ganges cruises are available which include the section of the Ganges above the Barrage towards Patna, one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world and associated with Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions.
The Brahmaputra is a fast-flowing river only navigable at certain times of the year, travelling from high in the Himalaya mountains through Tibet. The Assam Valley in North East India is one of its highlights with the World Heritage Kaziranga National Park offering wildlife to match Africa - one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, bison, vultures and a variety of animals. Our cruises on the Bramhaputra include an option to visit Bhutan in the Himalayas.

The Golden Triangle

India is a large country, so cruise tours tend to include the famous 'Golden Triangle' of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Extensions to Varanasi may be possible, and perhaps some time in Kerala with its famous backwaters or the seaside resorts of Goa.

Delhi has ancient sites such as the Red Fort and Qtab Minar, more modern vestiges of the British Raj, and the facilities and trappings of a modern capital city. Agra is home of the Taj Mahal, one of the most famous and romantic buildings in the world, and Jaipur, the 'pink city' due to its terracotta buildings, has the notable Amber Fort and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) amongst its treasures.

Varanasi is one of the most holy cities for Hindus, and its famous ghats (steps leading down to the water) are used for bathing, the nightly Hindu Aarti ceremony, or laundry. One ghat is reserved for Hindu cremations in this most holy place. Boat trips along the river past the ghats are available at sunset and sunrise.

Red Fort, DelhiRed Fort, Delhi Sunrise at the Taj MahalSunrise at the Taj Mahal Amber Fort, JaipurAmber Fort, Jaipur Local fish marketLocal fish market Vegetables are plentifulVegetables are plentiful Fatehpur SikriFatehpur Sikri

India Highlights

Agra (India)

Agra is home to one of the most famous buildings in the world - the Taj Mahal. Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this gleaming white marble structure is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Sunrise and sunset show the massive dome in different lights, and the iconic picture of the Taj with the lake in front has become a romantic vision familiar the world over. The city of Agra has over 1.5 million people, and it is also noted for the Red Fort, a huge complex close to the Taj Mahal.

Agra

Chandannagar (India)

This riverside town was established by the French and remained under their control until 1951 even after Indian independence. There are still many traces of French influence - the riverside promenade (Strand), the Catholic Church of Sacre Coeur, and the house of former French Governor Joseph François Dupleix now a museum with a famous collection of antique French 18th century wooden furniture.

Chandannagar

Delhi (India)

The capital city of India is a world mega-city with over 18 million inhabitants. Its population is growing rapidly as migrants from within India are attracted by the jobs and facilities on offer. It is a reflection of the world economic powerhouse that India will become. Delhi has sights from throughout the ages. Old Mughal structures such as the Red Fort reflect the wealth of that period. Delhi's wide streets and solid Government buildings go back to the era of investment by the British Raj. The India Gate area is a memorial to the Indian soldiers who fought with the British in World War One.

Delhi

Jaipur (India)

Jaipur is known as the 'Pink City' because of its terracotta coloured buildings. The city centre is a bustling area which includes the City Palace, still lived in by the Maharajah of Jaipur. Nearby is Jantar Mintar, an ancient collection of outdoor astronomical structures used for telling the time and date - including the largest (and accurate) sundial in the world. Also in the city centre is Hawa Mahal, the 5-storey Palace of the Winds designed so that members of the Harem could see the happenings of the city without being seen. Outside the city is Jaipur's main attraction - the Amber (Amer) Fort on a hillside overlooking a lake. This huge complex with its many courtyards resembles a palace.

Jaipur

Kalna (India)

Kalna is an affluent riverside town with a market selling all kinds of vegetables and foodstuffs, and with a well-stocked fish market section. Kalna has some of Bengal’s most distinct terracotta temples, including the Rajbari royal palace complex of gardens and round-domed temples. The nearby Shiva temples comprise two perfect circles, one with 74 temples made entirely out of white marble and black stone, the other with 34 temples made of white marble alone.

Kalna

Kolkata (India)

Kolkata was the centre of British rule in India before the capital moved to Delhi. It still retains British connections - and a replica of 'Big Ben' stands near the road from the airport. Probably the most famous Kolkata building is the huge Victoria Memorial raised in honour of Queen Victoria after her death. It is home to paintings from the Raj era and its museum is informative of Old Calcutta. One of the most famous residents of Kolkata is Mother Teresa, whose work with the poor through her Missionaries of Charity will lead to her canonisation in 2016. Mother Teresa's simple rooms and tomb in the Charity headquarters are open to the public.

Kolkata

Matiari (India)

The riverside brass-working village of Matiari contains many workshops which turn brass, often recycled, into pots, lamps, trays and other items using unique and skilled methods. Craftsmen can be seen using simple tools to create patterns in the brass; others are at work melting down brass offcuts for further use. Nearby is the site of the Battle of Plassey where the British East India Company defeated the Nawab of Bengal in 1757, preparing the ground for the company's rule in Bengal and India.

Matiari

Mayapur (India)

Mayapur is the home of the Krishna Consciousness Movement (ISKCON), and the birthplace of the 15th-century Hindu saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, worshipped by followers as the full incarnation of Lord Krishna. Wealthy supporters have contributed to the construction of the massive Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, just slightly smaller in size than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and still some way from completion. The town and its other temples are dominated by the new structure. All attract huge numbers of pilgrims, making Mayapur a very busy destination.

Mayapur

Mumbai (India)

This is the largest port in Western India, noted for its financial centre and Bollywood, the world's largest film production centre. Mumbai's most famous symbols are the Gateway to India, a grand arch, and the nearby Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. British influences can be seen in the stained glass and sculptures of Victoria Rail Terminus, a World Heritage Site. Mumbai is a pleasantly chaotic city packed full of bazaars, roadside stalls, traffic and some of India's best restaurants.

Mumbai

Murshidabad (india)

Once the capital of Bengal, Murshidabad still bears memories of the Nawabs with mosques, tombs, and gardens, and is noted for carvings in ivory, gold and silver embroidery and silk weaving. The most conspicuous building is as the Hazarduari Palace built by British Duncan McLeod in 1837, and reputed to have 1000 doors. It now houses an extensive collection of European paintings, china and weapons. Opposite is the Nizamat Imambara, the largest in India, and rarely open to the public. Just outside town is the Katra Masjid (Katra Mosque), the tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan built in 1724. It is known as a great centre of Islamic learning and its most striking feature are two large corner towers with loopholes for musketry.

Murshidabad

Varanasi (India)

The most spiritual location on the River Ganges, Varanasi is where Hindus come to worship the river as the goddess Ganga. Ritual bathing in the water is a common sight along the ghats, or riverside steps, extending for some distance along the Ganges waterfront. The various ghats have different functions - most famous is the Dashashwamedh Ghat where the evening Hindu Aarti ceremony is performed nightly before thousands of followers. The Manikarnika Ghat is reserved for cremations in this most holy place by the Ganges, with shrouded bodies washed in the Ganges before ceremonial cremation - taking place throughout the day and night. An evening or morning boat trip along the ghats is a popular activity to see the religious and everyday activities taking place.

Varanasi