World's longest river cruise

Antara Luxury River Cruises will be launching the world's longest river cruise, a 51-day trip along the Ganges and Brahmaputra, in December.

From Kashi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam via the Sundarbans and Bangladesh, the voyage will cover 27 small rivers and five Indian states. The art deco boutique ship Antara Ganga Vilas (right) will offer the chance to explore South Asian culture in some of its oldest regions and systems.

"Each experience has been personally reviewed by me and designed for fellow avid travellers," said Mr Raj Singh, president of Antara Luxury River Cruises. "The historic route has the backing, support and cooperation of the governments of India and Bangladesh."

Mr Singh is also an authority on Indian wildlife and has written books on the mammals, birds and aquatic life in the subcontinent.

Each day of the cruise will involve a river and land experience. Starting in Varanasi, the ship will meander through the waters of the Ganges, stopping at World Heritage sites and ancient sites in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

After an in-depth look at the states' colonial influences and regional traditions, it will sail through the largest mangrove forest in the world, the Unesco-protected Sundarbans, and arrive in Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, passengers can shop at the floating markets and visit towns and cities such as Barisal, Bagerhat, home to the famous 60-domed mosque, and Sonargaon.

The journey will continue from Bangladesh's capital Dhaka down the river Jamuna to the north. The ship will then turn east and return to India at Dhubri, embracing the Brahmaputra for the Assam leg of the journey.

In Assam, it will sail through wilderness and many cultural sites along the way.

Mr Singh said: "Guests will visit Matiari (a town in West Bengal), where brassware and textiles are handcrafted in the villages, and walk to archaeological sites that are over 2,500 years old.

"They will visit Vikramshila, one of the three most important Buddhist monasteries in India during the Pala Empire, and Bhagalpur, famous for its centuries-old traditions of Tussar silk weaving.

"They will also see the fascinating colonial, Dutch and French influences, the architecture of inner Bengal and the wild and unspoilt beauty across the India-Bangladesh border. We have carefully curated the entire trip, every stop, every experience."

Built in a mid-20th century style, the 18-suite Antara is a luxurious blend of refined structure and understated elegance. Its rooms are inspired by renowned artists Bauhaus and Josef Albers. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer enchanting views of the river. All fabric, furniture and tableware are locally sourced.

Indo-Asian News Service

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