Tailor-Made Holiday

Cruise the Ganges in Style

Expedition style Cruising from Patna to Varanasi

13 days

from $3,895pp (excluding flights)

Integral to shaping India's history and revered by millions, the sacred Ganges River is the most profound first-hand learning about the many wonders of India. Ply these holy waters on board the ABN Rajmahal cruise boat and explore this mighty river in style. 

  • Discover the village, towns and temples in a little-known part of India
  • Spend time in the holy city of Varanasi, experiencing some of the most profound ceremonies seen in India
  • Relax and unwind at the utterly gorgeous Nadescar Palace Hotel at the end of the cruise

With top notch facilities, the Rajmahal has been built with a shallow draft. The boat offers 22 cabins, split between upper and main decks. A small spa and vast canopied sundeck complement 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, UK summer months, the cruise accesses 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 due to the Rajmahal's shallow draught. The innovative City of Light cruise to Varanasi operates during August to end of September only, the months the river conditions allow. 

During the remainder of the year, apart from August and September,  ABN Rajmahal will operate on the lower Ganges and Hooghly rivers. Please ask our experts to talk you through the different cruise departure dates and lengths. 

Pre/post cruise experience

Spend a few days acclimatising to India in Delhi, exploring the changing architecture of the ruling dynasties over the years. At the end of the cruise, disembark the ship in Varanasi and check into the luxurious Taj Nadesar Palace. This is a glorious boutique heritage hideaway, offering an opulent and serene retreat a short distance from the old city. From Varanasi it is also easy to access other parts of India such as the erotic temples at Khajuraho or the tiger reserves at Panna or Bandhavgarh. 

Unique experiences on board and off the ship 

  • Cruising passed the Varanasi ghats and beyond is an exceptionally unique experience, witnessing life on the Ganges River plains
  • Watch the famous Ghats of Varanasi come alive as you sip morning tea and witness the oldest inhabited city in the world awake
  • Step ashore at Chunar to visit the great Mughal fort, the old British cemetery and the nearby Mughal tombs

Why cruise?

Cruising the River Ganges offers a special and unique opportunity to experience the heart of India. Accessing remote villages, towns, impressive temples and monuments from the river is the most comfortable way to reach these hidden gems.

What is given back?

Assam Bengal Navigation has always been involved in community development in the region through skill training, supporting local artisans, local employment and promoting local arts and crafts that can also be seen throughout the ship’s décor, each unique to its region. Assam Bengal Navigation Foundation was created to maximise projects in education, environment and community development. From the proceeds of each purchased cabin, 5% is contributed to the work projects of ABN Foundation.

Sustainable best practice

ABN are committed to minimise single-use plastic by any means possible. Guests are provided with water flasks and glass bottles with drinking water dispensers at every level of the ships.

Guides and specialists

All the naturalists and guides are trained in-house with years of experience and knowledge and are passionate about their home region.

Steppes’ value

  • Special 15% off on all spa treatments for Steppes Guests
  • Free arrival and departure transfers
  • Special Discount Beverages Package

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 
$ 5258.25 $ 877.5
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • 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

Arrival day. Meet and greet and transfer to your hotel.

You will be staying at The Lodhi, bed and breakfast

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 metropolis, 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 and 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 restaurants. 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.

After lunch, 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 and its busy alleys.

In the evening, take rowing boats to join the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony. This is where young priests perform their daily rituals with brass lamps and spiritual mantras.

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.

On the way back visit Ramnager to see the Maharaja's Palace and museum.

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 the oldest inhabited city in the world with its history dating back some 3,500 years.

You will be staying at Nadesar Palace, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Visit an Akhara
The ancient tradition of Indian wrestling, known as Kushti, thrives in Varanasi, one of the world's oldest cities. Wrestling gyms, or Akhara, scattered around the city are of the few places where Hindu men from different casts are considered equals. Aside from bodybuilding, practitioners emphasize a life of discipline and celibacy. Akharas are akin to gyms - where local men go to train using a range of fairly simple but effective equipment.

They are also used as sites where Pehelwani or wrestlers train and practice their wrestling on the Kushti (wrestling ground with hallowed earth). Most Akharas are associated with a guru - a holy man who trains the wrestlers with the assistance of older wrestlers. It's not just a sport and an art, it's an ancient subculture. Wrestlers live and train together and have strict rules.

Today visit one of the wrestling gyms to witness the practice session or match.

You will be staying at Nadesar Palace, bed and 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 and breakfast

Day 13

Departure day. Private transfer to the airport.


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

The Lodhi

The Lodhi

The Lodhi Hotel is a modern, chic city hotel with a zen-like feel set amongst three acres of gardens....

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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