New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed happiness after the Ganga Vilas cruise, the first longest river journey, finished at Dibrugarh, Assam, at Brahmaputra River.
It started on January 13, 2023, in Varanasi from the Ganga River.
In response to a tweet by the Cabinet Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the Prime Minister said, "A special journey completes! I hope more tourists from India and overseas take part in the Ganga Vilas cruise."
World's Longest River Cruise
The luxury cruise covered more than 3200 km across 27 river systems in 5 states in India and Bangladesh, and PM Modi flagged off the journey.
It had 32 tourists from Switzerland relishing the Varanasi to Dibrugarh journey travelling from the River Ganges to the Brahmaputra River via Bangladesh, traversing the Gangetic and Bengal plains as well as the Sundarbans and Assam Valley.
The tourists in their 51-day cruise visited around 50 tourist spots including world heritage sights, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Guwahati in Assam.
The Ganga Villas Cruise was built in 2022, and the luxurious, 18-suite Ganga Vilas is a state-of-the-art, handcrafted riverboat or river ship offering guests unmatched relaxed and luxurious comfort in the region and pioneering exploration of the historical multicultural Indian subcontinent's seldom-sailed waterways.
In the past centuries, these waterways used to be the primary transport system of the Indians travelling from one kingdom to another and have been described in several ancient historical books about the famous art of wooden ships manufactured in those kingdoms.
The Cruise and Its Life
Thirty-six guests can board the cruise. The vessel has 18 luxurious suites, like a home away from home, split over two decks, eight suits on the main deck, a gym, and a pair of massage rooms.
The upper deck has 10 suites, a lounge bar, and a dining room.
The ship features a vibrant modern decor inspired by the 1950s art scene following the 1947 Partition of India.
Bursts of colour, from bright magentas and cool blues to lustrous yellows, all delightfully complement the vivid cultures and regions explored during its sailing.
The journey encompasses art, cuisine, wildlife, culture, spirituality, and so much more, visiting world heritage-listed sites, colonial cities, ruins of lost empires, national parks, and artisanal villages.
The Swiss tourists enjoyed the ghats of Varanasi city to witness the powerful ‘Ganga Aarti’ ritual, a sacred offering to the river's goddess, Maa Ganga, and visit the archaeological site of Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching enlightenment.
They also witnessed the incredible wildlife and natural wonders of the world's largest mangrove forest – the Sundarbans - and the bewilderingly bio diverse Kaziranga National Park, home to India's One-Horned Rhino, Asian Elephant, Royal Bengal Tiger, Wild Water Buffalo, and Swamp Deer.
The tourists also witnessed the unique island of Majuli, the cultural capital of Assam and the largest river island in the world.
The island is home to many 15th-century Hindu monasteries, each with its principles and devotional practices, mask-wearing monks, and traditional dances.
The MV Ganga Vilas Cruise is a first-of-its-kind cruise service with support from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) under the Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways.
Can J&K Have Its Own Waterways Cruise Too?
Kashmir, full of water bodies and waterways, can equally have a grand river cruise for a couple of weeks, connecting different rivers and lakes. The two-week journey can have several stops at the breadth of tourist destinations and activities like river rafting, boating, camping, sightseeing, and trekking.
Kashmir was once famous for having ‘Doongas’ going deep into the lakes and completing the seven-bridge journey through the River Jhelum where famous Wazwan cuisine and locals’ cultural groups entertaining the guests were routine celebrations.
Can we again think of reviving those forgotten memories and culture of Kashmir and the famous floating life on sweet water bodies, enjoying the floating gardens and wild and aquatic life and celebrating the meaning of Kashmir’s heart-wrenching local ethos of the blue water lakes and surrounding snow-clad mountains with thick green foliage, stand-in as security of these majestic waterways?
Should Kashmir be encouraged to have the mini cruise journey connecting south Kashmir to north Kashmir and the famous lakes of Nagin, Manasbal, Dal and Wular, mesmerising the tourists with its beauty?