River Cruise Itinerary for The Upper Ganges River | Pandaw.com
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14 NIGHTS FROM US$6,752.00 - MEMBERS FROM US$5,401.60

In 2019 we inaugurated an 'all Ganges' voyage of one thousand miles from Kolkata to Varanasi. Due to the challenges of navigation and the obstruction of numerous pontoon bridges it has been decided to sail as far as Patna and then overland to Varanasi.

The sailing does though cover the best of the Ganges from the colonial splendours of Kolkotta, through the enchanting rural arcadia of West Bengal along the Hoogly and the great expanse of the Ganga itself with its pristine bird and wildlife and cultural treasures dotted along the banks. Though in the days of the British Raj paddle steamers plied this route on a regular basis, with the advent of the railways in India river navigation was abandoned and the rivers were allowed to silt up. Now thanks to a multi-million dollar investment from the Indian Government channels have been dredged and buoyed and hi tech GPS based aids installed enabling seasonal navigation.

Varanasi, said to be the oldest inhabited city on the planet is the most sacred city of Hinduism and a place of overwhelming beauty at the same time poignantly moving with its cremation ghats. Varanasi is surely the goal of any 'passage to India' and at the other end of the holy river stands Kolkata, in all its Raj-like magnificence. Between lies several of the most important Buddhist sites including Sarnath, Nalanda and Bodh Gaya and cities great and small and between urban centres and great pilgrim sites are expanses of empty river teeming with bird life, not to mention the Gangeatic dolphin.

No vessel could be more appropriate for a voyage on 'All the Ganges' than our ultra shallow draft Pandaw K class ships that can reach as far as Patna from where passengers will travel overland to Gaya for a night and then on to Varanasi for two nights making this sailing eleven nights on board and three nights in best available hotels.

Important Notice:
The cruise schedule includes the latest information regarding your program, but last minute adjustments may occur. The schedule may shift due to the weather or to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. The exact time for each activity will be announced or posted by the onboard tour staff.

Please Note:
This itinerary passes through the state of Bihar. In this state it is illegal to serve any drinks containing alcohol. For this reason we will not be able to serve alcohol onboard the ship while in the state of Bihar. This will affect the Upstream itinerary from day 6 until the afternoon of day 12 and for the Downstream itinerary from day 3 until the afternoon of day 9.


Indus River CruisesPlease Note due to local regulations, Pandaw has hired a local management company to run the day-to-day operations of our ships in India. Indus Expeditions operate under the management of Pandaw to deliver our expeditions and maintain our Pandaw owned vessels. Whilst Indus Expeditions make every effort to offer the highest levels of guest care and have been provided with full training and support from Pandaw and our local management, it should be noted that given the chaotic but often charming way in which India works there may remain some local quirks and differences in service from what you will find in South-East Asia!


14 NIGHTS FROM US$6,752.00 - MEMBERS FROM US$5,401.60
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India's Golden Triangle 6 Nights Pre Tour

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Delhi & Taj Mahal & Kolkata 4 Nights Pre Tour

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Ancient Kingdom of Bhutan & Kolkata Pre Tour 6 Nights

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Kolkata Pre Tour 2 Nights

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Varanasi Post Tour 1 Night

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Private Dining

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Upstream      Downstream


Transfer from the meeting point in Kolkata to embark on your Pandaw ship. Set sail down the Hooghly River, an important distributory of the Ganga to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950. Stroll along the riverside promenade, visit the 18th century church and Dupleix's House, the erstwhile Governor-General of French India. Return to the ship and continue upstream past the old Dutch settlement of Chinsura and the Portuguese settlement of Bandel.

More about Kolkata


Land at the country town of Kalna and take rickshaws to see a group of some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings made up of 108 lesser shrines. On the way back to the ship explore the colourful local market full of fruit sellers and fish mongers. Continue sailing towards Mayapur to explore the vast new ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple which dominates the skyline. As the headquarters of ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement, the temple receives over a million singing and dancing devotees a year from around the world.

More about Kalna


Set off to discover the brass-working village of Matiari. Interact with the local artisans learn how these skilled craftsmen all specialise in a different process – from beating the metal, to etching the designs. Witness the whole process involved to create brass water pots, trays and other vessels Later, cruise on past the battlefield of Plassey where, in 1757, Robert Clive, the Commander-in-Chief of British India, defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal.


Take an early morning walk to the Khushbagh, a peaceful Mughal-style garden that encloses the tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah – the last independent Nawab of Bengal – and his family. Continue cruising towards Murshidabad to where the great Hazarduari Palace dominates the waterfront. Explore the city, a hidden architectural gem along the river with dramatic, whitewashed, colonial-era structures including Katra Mosque and Katgola palaces.

More about Murshidabad


Cross from the Lower Ganges or Hooghly River to the Ganges itself through the Farraka canal and lock, that was constructed 1963-75. Passing into the great river the great Farraka barrage will be visible just downstream. This effectively dams the Ganges and strategically controls the flow of water into neighbouring Bangaladesh. Enter a section of river rich in bird life, before stopping at Samtaghat, otherwise known as Raj Mahal.


Passing the confluence of the Kosi river that flows down from Nepal, moor at the pretty town of Bateshwarsthan to uncover the 8th century Buddhist site of Vikramshila, one of the two most important centres of learning in India during the Pala Empire, along with Nalanda.


Sailing along this stretch of the river provides an opportunity to spot the rare Gangeatic dolphins. Land at Bhaglapur, a centre of silk production, and visit the 18th century mansion of the Collector, Augustus Cleveland.


Contunue to Jahanigra Island, a place of pilgrimage with many rock carvings in high relief dating from the eighth century depicting aspects of Siva and Vishnu. In the evening moor off Sultanganj, with its pair of great granite rocks, one crowned with a mosque and the other a small temple dating from the 16th century.


Munger is now a large and industrialised city but has an interesting history. In 1762, Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal, shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger, and established a firearms manufacturing centre here. Explore the Mughal fort, East India Company cemetery and step inside the Bihar School of Yoga founded in 1964 by Satyananda Saraswati. One of the leading yoga schools in the country. The institution has developed yogic techniques through a synthesis of traditional yogic, vedantic and tantric practices and contemporary health science.


Stop at Mokama, once home to Jim Corbett the naturalist and protector of the Indian tigers. Surrounded by farmlands, Mokama has the second hightest production of lentils in the country. Learn about the freedom fighters from Mokama such as Lalldin Saheb, whose during the freedom struggle was sentenced to jail during the British rule.


Explore Barh, a town famous for Hindu ritual cremation at Urmanath and the Alakhnath Temple.


Disembark your Pandaw ship early and drive to the archaeological site of Nalanda, the great 5th century Buddhist university. Discover the monumental red brick walls and stupas standing on the site of what was the longest running university in Indian history. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surrounds of this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is thought to have accommodated over 10,000 students and hosted Buddha Siddhartha himself. Continue to Bodh Gaya, another UNESCO World Heritage Site arranged around the Maha Bodhi temple where the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in the 5th century BC. Spend time exploring this global centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists of all denominations and admire the many monasteries built in various national styles – Tibetan, Burmese, Thai, Japanese, etc.

Overnight in Oaks Bodh Gaya or similar

More about Nalanda


Board a flight to Varanasi, the oldest and holiest city of India established in the 11th century BC and today with over 2,000 living temples. Check-in to your hotel with time to freshen up before and evening cruise along the sacred river to witness the Aarti ritual. Enjoy a dinner at The Great Kebab Factory, a contemporary and stylish Indian restaurant specialising in delectable kebabs.

Overnight in Tree of Life Varanasi or similar

More about Varanasi


Take a sunrise boat cruise past the bathing ghats and observe the people as they come to the river to perform their morning prayers and rituals. Following breakfast explore the Old City on a walking tour through the ancient by-lanes and discover the colourful and chaotic life that exists. Later visit Sarnath and the Deer Park where the Lord Buddha gave his first sermon with its archaeological museum. Return to the hotel and enjoy a musical performance comprising a sitar and tabla before your farewell dinner

Overnight in Tree of Life Varanasi or similar


Check-out after breakfast and receive a group transfer to the airport or the Taj Ganges hotel.



Cruise Price Includes: Transfer to/from Ship, entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes.

Price Excludes: International flights, laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions), all beverages except local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes, tipping for guide and drivers.

Please Note:

  • Entry to the Bihar School of Yoga is subject to approval and may not always be possible.
  • Lunch and dinner taken at local restaurants in Nalanda and Bodh Gaya will be vegetarian only given the nature of these pilgrim destinations.
  • Laundry service is only applicable whilst onboard the ship and drinks taken at local restaurants will be chargeable directly with the venue.
  • Due to the inclusion of flights in the revised itinerary, please provide copies of all travelling guest's passports to assist with bookings.
  • We suggest to change money at a bank at the international airport before exiting (currently there is shortage of new money bills in India).

Weather Condition Warning

River cruising on the Lower and Upper Ganges can be severely affected by fog during the months of December and January. This may impact the sailing schedules and the planned excursions. While every effort will be made to make up time and include all activities this is not always possible. Similarly temperatures can drop significantly overnight and in the early mornings, though during the day warmer temperatures can be expected. Winter temperatures during 2019/2020 were well below average with many destinations in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh experiencing long spells of cold, the most extreme and severe since 1997.



Transfer from The LaLIT Great Eastern in Kolkata to the port by coach to embark cruise.

Registration Details
The LaLIT Great Eastern
Registration is at 10.00
1,2,3 Old Court House Street
Dalhousie Square
Kolkata - 700069
Tel: +91 33 4444 7777


Please arrive at meeting point no later than 10.00. Transfer will depart 10.30.


Check out after breakfast. Transfer to airport or Taj Ganges Hotel.



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