through backwaters and rivers of India by a country boat are
unique experience. As there is diversity in every field,
similarly, there are various type of country boats to enjoy the
water cruise, ranging from country a sail boat of Allahabad, Ors
rowed Shikara of Kashmir to motor launch of Sunderbans.
also know as Prayag in Hindu tradition, has been a city of holy
pilgrimage for Indians, since thousands of years. Here, on the
banks of Ganaga at it’s confluence with the Yamuna and
mythological Sarasvati, known as Sangam, once in 12 years festival
– the Kumbh – is staged, the largest bathing event in the
world. Allahabad‘s Fort, overlooking the confluence of the
rivers, was built in the 16th century by Emperor Akbar. Ashoka’s
stone pillars stands in side the fort premises, carry his own
epigraph and those of the Gupta King Samadra Gupta (335-75 AD),
and later rulers.
down to Varanasi along the Ganges, in a local sailing craft
witness the time less images of this infinitely varied land as
they drift by. The physical and spiritual properties of the Ganges
are found in the earliest Hindu text, the Rigveda and are said to
flow from the matted strands of Lord Shiva’s hair. At other
times the banks can be full of spectacle: the ornate temples,
crowded bathing Ghats, the fields of wheat and rice paddies, every
day life in countless villages, other river craft and marvelous
sun sets. Even we may get glimpses of Ganges Dolphin at some
of Calcutta, start the sunderbans, “beautiful forest” in
Bengali, formed by the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra, and
extending across entire northern shore of the Bay of Bengal. This
Sunderban is a marshy mangrove jungle, the largest estuarine
forest in the world. The land is saturated with salt, sustaining a
poor single crop a year; the man eating Royal Bengal Tiger can
swim and even attacks fishermen in their boats, killing altogether
more than two hundred persons each year. There are few roads,
water transport is often the only way of communication.
chances of seeing a tiger are slim, but there are many estuarine
crocodiles, the largest in the world, usually seen sleeping on mud
flats along the river.
short drive from Calcutta takes us to village Basanti where we
will board our local motorized river craft. Continuing our journey
via Gosaba village, to Sajnakhali forest rest house, while we
enjoying the life on the riverbanks, fresh meals are being cooked
by our Kitchen staff. Before checking in at the Sajnakhali forest
rest house, we have to register our selves with the forest staff
and they will provide a guard to visit with us next day to creeks
and watch towers for game viewing. At the end of exploration, we
trace back the way to Basanti of Canning the local harbor for
Heritage (West Bengal)
Ganga heritage cruise is a quest to truly sense the spirit of the
land and river life, interwoven so profoundly. A unique
opportunity to experience the three cultures that fashioned the
fabric of Bengal. The Nawabi culture of the Mughal rulers, their
life style and achitecture. The Vaishnava culture (followers of
Lord Vaishno) “mad in their love for God” and their
spirituality. The European culture of the setlers – the English,
French, Danish, Dutch, Germans and Portuguese.
exciting cruise begins with Behrampur, 11 km. south of Murshidabad
and 000 from Calcutta. Besides the crumbling mansions and
cemeteries of the English and Duch settlements, is famous for raw
silk production and weaving. The Nawabi experience begins with
Murshidabad – Lal bagh, the Capital of Bengal during the reign
of Siraj ud Daulah, known for its prosperity and wealth. Then to
Azim gunj, an important trades center for the Jain merchants. Down
stream is the battlefield of Plassy, where the English East India
Company defeated the forces of Nawaqb Siraj ud Daulah to establish
Halt next day at the temple town of Mayapur, head quarters of
ISCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). Another
life size deity, encrusted with jewels, can be seen at the
Narshima Deve temple. The European experience begins with
Chandannar, once a French colony, on the riverbank. En-route is
Sermpur, originally a Denshi colony. Onwards is Chinsura, occupied
by the Dutch from 1656-1825. The Portuguese settlement at Bandel
is one of the earliest and houses the Portuguese church, the
oldest church in West Bengal, and a seminary. Belure Math is the
last tour stop. The evenings take on a spiritual glow with the
Arti. The tour ends at Outramghat on the Calcutta riverfront. The
emerald and brown patch work of Bengal’s countryside, the azure
blue sky and the evening breeze on the Ganga orchestrate an
most spectacular site for a tourist to Kerala is the vast green
expense of the backwaters. And a memorable experience is a
houseboat holiday on these backwaters. The most amazing aspect of
these backwaters are Kettuvalloms (traditional house boats), which
are an improvisation on the large country barges of yesteryears.
Almost on the verge of decay, these houseboats have been resorted
through their promotion as a unique holiday concept.
Vembanad Lake, flowing through the three districts of Alappuzha,
Cochin and Kottayam, is the largest backwater stretch of Kerala.
The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary at Kottayam is an added attraction of
the Vembanad Lake.
longest and probably the most breathtaking backwater journey is
between Allapuzha and Kollam. While the former is referred to as
the ‘Venice of the East’, Kollam is Kerala’s largest
producer of cashew nuts.
distinct experience of the trail is Kuttanad, the rice bowl of
Kerala, where the water level is higher than that of land. Also
along the journey is Alumkadavu, the village where Kettuvalloms
are made. The eight hour journey gives a first hand experience of
the lifestyle of the backwater people.
the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State, is a unique city,
due to its famous lakes Dal, Nagin, Anchar and the river Jehlum
with its nine picturesque bridges connecting two parts of the city
with each other.
gondola like boats “Shikaras” are still means of transport to
ferry people from one-island houses and houseboats to main roads.
A ride by a Shikars through these spectacular lakes and those to
Mughal gardens as well as via backwater canals is a romantic
Shikaras about 20 feet in length and 4 to 6 feet in width are
equipped with large spring seats and decorated canopies. Manually
rowed by one to three persons, depends on how many places and in
how much of time one would like to cover.
half and full day trips are taken to explore the backwaters one or
more of these lakes but there are longer itineraries available for
two to four days, which allows drift down the river Jehlum till
Wular lake, the largest fresh water lakes of India.
trips are often referred to as water treks, all complete camping
and cooking gear are taken along with a teams consisting of cooks
and helpers for overnight camping on the river banks. These water
cruises are the best way to explore the rural life while enjoying
the ride on soft cushioned seats of these Shikaras