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Sunrise over River Ganges, Varanasi, India

India – Ganges River Cruise with William Dalrymple

  • EXPERT-LED CRUISE
Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
14/02/21 24/02/2111 days £4,995 ex. flights £4,995William Dalrymple52 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

William Dalrymple 1

William Dalrymple

Travel in the company of acclaimed author and historian, William Dalrymple.

Signature Suite, Ganges Voyager, India 2

Private boat charter

Travel aboard the exclusively chartered, high-end river cruiser, Ganges Voyager I.

Sadhu Praying at the Ghats, Varanasi, India 3

A unique perspective

Reach fascinating parts of Bengal inaccessible by road, as featured in William Dalrymple’s latest book, The Anarchy.

Hazarduari Palace Museum, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India 4

Discover Murshidabad

Reach Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem with dramatic colonial-era structures.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Kolkata

  • Day 2

    Embarkation in Kolkata - Kalna

  • Day 3

    Kalna to Matiari

  • Day 4

    Matiari to Murshidabad

  • Day 5

    Murshidabad

  • Day 6

    Murshidabad to Cossimbazar

  • Day 7

    Cossimbazar to Mayapur

  • Day 8

    Mayapur to Chandernagore

  • Day 9

    Chandernagore to Serampore, Barrackpore and Kolkata

  • Day 10

    Kolkata

  • Day 11

    Disembarkation in Kolkata

Day 1

Arrive Kolkata

Victoria Memorial, , Kolkata , India

International flight arrival into Kolkata Airport. The group are met on arrival and transferred (shared) to the hotel. Private transfers can be arranged separately at an additional cost. Overnight in Kolkata.

Day 2

Embarkation in Kolkata - Kalna

Exterior, Ganges Voyager, India

Transfer from the hotel in Kolkata to the port to board the Ganges Voyager. Embark on the voyage to Kalna.

Day 3

Kalna to Matiari

This morning take a rickshaw ride through the town centre of Kalna. Visit the enchanting Rajbari Temple Complex. Bengal’s mixture of temple architecture is unique and diverse. Return back to the ship and sail onward to Matiari this afternoon.

Day 4

Matiari to Murshidabad

Katra Mosque, Murshidabad, India

Enjoy an early morning walk to the shore-side village of Matiari, which is known for manufacturing beautiful handcrafted brass items. Sail past the battlefield of Plassey, where Robert Clive of British East India Company defeated the Mogul Nawabs. Continue to Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem with dramatic whitewashed colonial-era structures.

Day 5

Murshidabad

Hazarduari Palace Museum, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India

Explore Murshidabad. Visit the Katra Mosque, visit Hazarduari Palace and the nearby town of Azimganj, known for its Jain Temples and heritage merchant houses.

Day 6

Murshidabad to Cossimbazar

Sunrise over River Ganges, Varanasi, India

This morning sail downstream to Cossimbazar. Explore this historic town where the first European traders set up their factories. It was famous for its silks, hosiery, koras and beautiful ivory work.

Day 7

Cossimbazar to Mayapur

Flowers & Garlands, Flower Market, Kolkata, India

Sail further downstream to Mayapur, known as the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486) and home of the Krishna Consciousness Movement also called ISKCON.

Day 8

Mayapur to Chandernagore

Puja Flowers, Ganges River, Rishikesh, India

Sail to Chandernagore, an erstwhile French colony. Explore the French colonial buildings and the beautiful Sacred Heart Church.

Day 9

Chandernagore to Serampore, Barrackpore and Kolkata

Sunset on the River Ganges or Hugli, India

Sail to Serampore, a pre-colonial city on the west bank of the river. Visit Serampore College and St. Olav’s Church, locally known as the Danish Church. Sail across the river to explore Barrackpore.

Day 10

Kolkata

Howrah Bridge, Kolkata, India

Explore Kolkata.

Day 11

Disembarkation in Kolkata

Flowers at Market, Calcutta, India

Following breakfast guests will disembark the vessel and transfer to the Kolkata Airport for their onward journey.

Exterior, Ganges Voyager, India
India
Signature Suite, Ganges Voyager, India
Signature Suite, Ganges Voyager, India
Bathroom, Ganges Voyager, India
India
Outdoor Sundeck, Ganges Voyager, India
India
Maharaja Suite, Ganges Voyager, India
India
Viceroy Suite, Ganges Voyager, India
India

Ganges Explorer

The Ganges Explorer is a very comfortable, small passenger ship that has been cruising the river Ganges since 2015. She has been designed to carry 56 guests and offers a warm and relaxed experience. Steppes Travel has privately chartered the ship, which offers four different cabin categories to choose from. The Maharaja Suite, the highest category on board, is now BOOKED but there is still availability in the Viceroy, Colonial and Signature suites.

The ship has a large indoor lounge and outdoor deck area offering plenty of space to sit and relax. The indoor spaces feature large windows offering expansive views, and there is also a fitness room and spa.

READ MORE

Temple, Kolkata, India, Exotic Heritage
Kolkata, India
Church, Kolkata, India, Exotic Heritage
Kolkata, India
Rajmahal under the bridge, Calcutta, India
ABN Rajmahal, Kolkata, India
Howrah Bridge, Kolkata, India
Kolkata, India
Oberoi Grand, Calcutta, Kolkata, India
Oberoi Grand, Kolkata, India

Kolkata

The journey begins in Kolkata, considered by many to be the country’s cultural hub. The former capital of the Raj, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) still retains much of its dramatic colonial architecture. Its legacy lives on in the imperious Victoria Memorial in the heart of the city, today home to an impressive collection of British colonial historical artefacts, and the churches of St John and St Andrew.

At the end of the cruise, you will explore this fascinating city; stroll through the early morning flower market, pass the bookshops on College Street, watch the world come to life in the institutional coffee shops, sample Bengali cuisine and explore some of the colonial monuments.

Kalna Temple Complex, India, Exotic Heritage
Kalna , India
Temples, Kalna, India, Exotic Heritage
Kalna , India
Temples, Kalna, India, Exotic Heritage
Kalna , India

Kalna

The town of Kalna has the most extraordinary concentration of temples in the region. The Rajbari Temple Complex includes a diverse mix of temple architecture. Built-in 1809 by the Bardhaman Maharaja, the complex contains 108 slope-roofed temples, 74 in an outer circle and another 34 in the inner circle. Terracotta plaques depict themes of Hindu epics, the mythical lives of saints, gods and goddesses and various aspects of day to day life in the region. It’s a remarkable site to visit.

Sunrise over River Ganges, Varanasi, India

Plassey

The cruise sails past the battlefields of Plassey, where the British East India Company, under the leadership of Robert Clive, had a decisive victory over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies in June 1757. The battle helped the Company seize control of Bengal. Over the next hundred years, they seized control of the entire Indian subcontinent and Myanmar.

Katra Mosque, Murshidabad, India
Murshidabad, India
Hazarduari Palace Museum, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India
Hazarduari Palace Museum, Murshidabad, West Bengal, India, Murshidabad, India
Archway, Murshidabad, India, Exotic Heritage
Murshidabad, India

Murshidabad

The ship continues along the Lower Ganges, twisting and turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards to arrive at Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem with dramatic whitewashed colonial-era structures.

During your visit to Murshidabad, visit the Katra mosque. Built by the first Nawab of Murshidabad – Murshid Quli Khan in 1724-25, this mosque has distinctive minarets from which the muezzin calls the faithful to Friday prayers. Continue to the Hazarduari Palace which dominates the waterfront, built during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah (1824-1838 AD) by an English architect, Duncan McLeod, 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.

Expert-Led Cruise FAQs

Why travel with Steppes on this Ganges River Cruise?

Steppes has privately chartered one of the most comfortable boats on the Ganges to follow a completely bespoke, one-off itinerary that explores the history of the East India Company, as outlined in William Dalrymple’s new book, The Anarchy. Not only this, the great author himself will be on board the boat with you.

How much time will I get with William Dalrymple?

William will be on board the boat for the first five days of the cruise. He will give daily presentations in the early evening and will join the daily excursions onshore.

What happens on a typical day?

Each evening the boat manager will outline the following day’s programme. Every morning there will be sunrise yoga (for those early risers) followed by breakfast between 7 am and 8.30 am. Each day will offer a short excursion, either in the morning or afternoon. Lunch and Dinner are both served on board in the Dining Room. Each evening between 6 – 7.30 there is the opportunity to enjoy pre-dinner drinks, a presentation by an expert and short talk by the boat manager.

Is February a good time to travel to India?

Yes, February is a beautiful time to visit this region of India, particularly during the daytime. The climate is warm and dry with day time temperatures in the mid-20s. Night-time temperatures can drop considerably to around 12 to 16 degrees so you will require warmer clothes for early mornings and evenings on deck.

 

Do I need to be physically fit to enjoy this trip?

The Ganges River cruise program is active. While there will be plenty of time to relax, there is much to see and do. Many included excursions require an extensive amount of walking over uneven terrain, and many sites have numerous steps that may be steeper and more narrow than is common in Western countries. For your safety and enjoyment, we recommend that all guests be in good physical condition and able to walk unaided.

Will there be a doctor on board?

While staff on board are trained in basic first aid, there are no nurses or doctors on board. While international medical facilities are available in Kolkata, and we have a list of physicians who can be contacted during the cruise, medical facilities are not easily accessible at all stops.

Is this trip available for solo travellers?

This is the perfect trip for solo travellers however cabins are charged at the full cost of a cabin regardless of whether it is occupied by one or two people. If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you can share the cost of a cabin with another person.

What is the accommodation like?

The hotel in Kolkata is one of our favourites. Centrally located and full of character, this is a very comfortable hotel. The Ganges Voyager is considered to be one of the best boats on the river. It is an all-suite boat, each cabin offering ample space with large picture windows and ensuite bathrooms. The communal areas are large enough to offer guests plenty of room to find a quiet corner.

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Includes / Excludes

Important Information

Activity Level
Light Activity
Single Supplement

Travelling on your own? Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.

Flexibility

To allow flexibility, our group tours do not include international flights as standard. We can arrange international flights on your behalf, please get in touch with our travel experts for a quote. All international flights from the UK are ATOL protected.

What is included

  • Accompanied by William Dalrymple for five days
  • Bed and breakfast accommodation in Kolkata for one night
  • Shared group transfer on arrival - airport to hotel
  • Two shared group transfers by deluxe AC coach - hotel to port and port to airport
  • Welcome meal on first night in Kolkata
  • Accommodation aboard the Ganges Voyager
  • Full board meals on the boat include mineral water, tea/coffee
  • Services of three English speaking guides (one per 15-20 passengers) for shore excursions during cruise
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, porters, crew
  • All shore excursions during cruise
  • £25 to help fund the communities, conservation agencies and NGOs that we work with
  • £25 contribution to ‘Trees and Science’ in mitigation of your carbon emissions
  • 24-hour assistance while travelling
  • Wi-Fi access while on board the boat

What is excluded

  • International flights
  • Drinks on board (other than mineral water, tea and coffee)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa Fees

Why a Steppes expert-led group tour

1.Experience matters

We have been running insightful and groundbreaking group tours since our inception in 1989. We have worked with institutions such as the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum and run wildlife tours in conjunction with conservation agencies such as Fauna & Flora International, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Orangutan Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute.

2.Like-minded travellers

Steppes Travellers are like-minded people; interesting, interested and curious. Our group tours, usually consisting of eight to ten travellers, aim to create an easy and informal atmosphere – we have a lot of fun on our tours and many friendships have been formed.