Tailor-Made Holiday

Cruise the Ganges

The Uncharted Ganges - Expedition style Cruising from Patna to Varanasi

13 days

from £3,045pp (excluding flights)

The ABN Rajmahal will be the first vessel to offer extensive cruising on the Ganges, on the stretch of water between Calcutta and as far north as Varanasi.

  • Cruise through the sacred and ancient city of light, Varanasi
  • Visit Bodhgaya, an important archaeological sites.
  • Catch a glimpse of the rare Gangetic dolphins
  • Visit the old East India Company cemetery at Buxar

A welcome addition on the Hooghly and Ganges with top notch facilities, the Rajmahal has been built with a shallow draft, a larger boat with 22 cabins, split between upper and main deck. A small spa and vast canopied sundeck compliments the communal spaces, all in keeping with traditional Indian inspired designs. Even more welcome for some are the four single cabins, without any single supplement.

In periods of high water, our summer months, the cruise can access the Holy Grail of the Ganges - the city of Varanasi. At this time of year there is also cruising between Patna and Varanasi. This ground-breaking voyage is only possible with Rajmahal's shallow draught.

The innovative City of Light cruises to Varanasi operates during August to end of September only, the months the river conditions allow. 

The Sonepur Cattle Fair is the largest cattle fair in India, trading  farm animals, in particular elephants. The cattle fair is held in the Indian state of Bihar during November and originates from a time when people traded elephants and horses across the auspicious Ganges. The mela used to attract traders from places as distant as Central Asia. In 2017 the month long Sonepur Festival will start from 16th November. 

During the remainder of the year, apart from July and August,  ABN Rajmahal will operate on the lower Ganges and Hooghly rivers. 

Cruise Dates (seven nights onboard the ABN Rajmahal) for City of Light 2017 schedule is as follows: 

Upstream ( Patna- Varanasi) 4- 11 Aug / 18 - 25 Aug  / 1 - 8 Sep 

Downstream  ( Varanasi - Patna) 11- 18  Aug / 25 Aug - 1 Sep / 8- 15 Sep 

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 3045 £ 650
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • International flights as detailed
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi overnight

Day 2

City tour of Delhi
Start by exploring the fascinating and living legacy of the Indo-Islamic culture in Old Delhi. Wander in the busy and narrow streets of the mile-long Chandni Chowk, popularly called “The Silver Street”, surrounded by shops and bazaars. Visit the largest mosque of Old Delhi which can accommodate 20,000 people at one time - Jama Masjid with its tapering minarets and wonderful marble domes. You will also have the opportunity to experience rickshaw ride here.
Afternoon, drive past the magnificent Parliament Building, the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the official residence of the President of India in the 330 acres of land and designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens) and India Gate in New Delhi. End the tour at Humanyun’s Tomb, built in the 16th century and architecturally considered the forerunner of the Taj Mahal.

Delhi may be one of the world's largest metropolises, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl. Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples. Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings, - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.

You will be staying at The Lodhi, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Fly Delhi to Patna

Patna is the second busiest city in Eastern India after Calcutta. This modern city is situated on the southern banks of the Ganges, is home to some of the regions best eateries. The near 6km long Mahatma Ganhi Setu, the longest single river bridge in the world, connects Patna with Hajipiur. Patna is the embarkation point for cruises going as far as the city of Varanasi.

Embark at Patna
Transfer to the ship in the late afternoon. Dine on board, as the ship begins to cruise upstream.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 4

Set ashore at a small ghat and visit a beautiful, yet unimposing, Mughal tomb at Maner. Return to the ship and continue past the confluence with the Sone River, to the busy river port of Doriganj. Moor up overnight near the confluence with the Ghaghara River.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 5

Cruise upriver, past Ballia, to the country town of Buxar. The location is significant for the battle fought here in 1764, which, together with victory at Plassey, laid the foundations for the British Raj. Drive out to the battlefield memorial and walk to a nearby village, before taking a cycle rickshaw back to the Buxar ghats.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 6

Sail upstream, past Chausa, to Ghazipur. Here, visit the imposing tomb of Lord Cornwallis, who was famously defeated by George Washington during the American War of Independence. Hopefully, have the chance to spend some time wandering the busy Ghazipur bazaar, before returning to the ship.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 7

Spend the morning heading towards Varanasi. Upon arrival, set out to visit the Buddhist site of Sarnath, with its idyllic deer park. Here, Buddha first taught the Dharma, the fundamental principles of Buddhism. Also, have the chance to explore the nearby archaeological museum.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 8

At dawn, take a rowing boat out past the bathing ghats. After breakfast, stroll through the old town of Varanasi, before setting sail upstream towards Ramnagar. Disembark here and spend some time exploring the 17th-century fort and palace, which now houses an impressive museum. Continue on to Chunar for the night.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 9

Chunar & Ramnagar
Step ashore at Chunar to visit the great Mughal fort, the old British cemetery and the nearby Mughal tombs. Also, look out for locally produced carpets and pottery.

After lunch, cruise down to Varanasi and disembark near the Assi Ghat. Set out by rowing boat to attend an evening Ganga Aarti ceremony; watch devout Hindus launch candles and flowers into the holy waters of the Ganges.

You will be staying at ABN Rajmahal, Full board

Day 10

Disembark at Varanasi
After breakfast, disembark the ship.

Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Benares, is situated on the north bank of Ganga in the state of Uttar Pradesh in North India. It is one of the oldest living cities of the world with its history dating back to about 3500 hundred years. Varanasi is supposed to be the oldest living city in the world and is epi-centre of Hinduism and Indian culture.

You will be staying at Nadesar Palace, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Morning Boat Ride on the Ganges
As dawn break, set out on India's most sacred river, the Ganges. From the water, admire the views of the palaces and temples that stand above the city's famous ghats. Running along the length of the river banks, these famous stone steps descend into the river's murky - yet revered - waters.

Used for laundry, bathing or ceremonial purposes, each of the ghats has its own spiritual significance. None, however, are more sacred than the city's 'burning ghats'. It is here that the luckiest Hindus are cremated on sandalwood fires, before their ashes are sprinkled into the holy waters.

Half Day Sightseeing Tour
Take a tour of Varanasi, accompanied by a guide. A maze of narrow alleys that are teeming with life and packed with religious buildings, the city still retains its medieval feel. Explore the old city and its numerous ghats, before visiting the Mharat Mata Temple and Ramnagar Fort.

Evening Aarti Ceremony
In the evening, take a boat ride to a private aarti / blessing ceremony organised for you.

You will be staying at Nadesar Palace, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Fly Varanasi to Delhi

Enjoy a final farewell evening meal at the speciality restaurant, Amaranta

You will be staying at Oberoi Gurgaon, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Fly Delhi to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

The Lodhi

The Lodhi

The Lodhi Hotel is the only hotel with views across to Humayan's Tomb....

View Accommodation

Nadesar Palace

Nadesar Palace

As the only smart five star hotel in Varanasi that delivers consistently, Nadesar Palace has no rivals....

View Accommodation

ABN Rajmahal

ABN Rajmahal

Newly built for service on the Hooghly and Ganges, the Rajmahal has been built with a shallow draft to cope with low waters....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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