27 March 2013........Kolkata, West Bengal, India

28 Mar.....................Kolkata

29 Mar.....................Train to Jangipur...embark R/V Sukapha on the Hooghly River

30 Mar.....................Gaur, India

31 Mar.....................Baranagar...Murshidabad, India

  1 Apr......................Khushbagh...Plassey, India

  2 Apr......................Matiari...Nabadwip...Mayapur, India

  3 Apr......................Kalna...Chinsura/Hooghly, India

  4 Apr......................Chandannagar...Serampore, India

  5 Apr......................Disembark R/V Sukapha, Kolkata, India

(placeholder)

click

me

(placeholder)
(placeholder)

Back to The Subcontinent Page

Three pages of photos to keep you interested...

  This seven-night cruise on a small riverboat down the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India, will no doubt be one of my more memorable river cruises. Since I was already in India, it was pretty easy to add this on to the end of the Golden Triangle land tour. I booked it through an American company, Value World Tours; it wasn’t cheap, especially with the single supplement. But the opportunity to get into the rural areas along the river without driving was too good to pass up. The riverboat, the R/V Sukapha, operated by the Assam Bengal Navigation Company, was air-conditioned and comfortable with only 12 double cabins and a lounge on an upper deck spanning the width at the bow, a sundeck above that, and the dining room on the main deck below. Meals were all buffet style with a variety of mostly-Indian dishes.

   For the 20 passengers we had a company rep and a full-time guide, assisted by local guides in many of the towns. The guide was very knowledgeable and the boat very well run to Western standards. What I was not prepared for was the itinerary: it seemed like a lot of the stops would be at places tied to the colonial history of India but to my delight, we stopped at or near small towns where life is going on as it has for millennia. The few colonial sites were reached by going through these villages, in a variety of vehicles including bicycle-powered rickshaws. Lots of dusty dirt roads, muddy landings, potholes, uneven footing, sleeping yellow dogs, and the universal litter and trash made walking an obstacle course.

  The locals were unfailingly friendly and welcoming and not averse to being photographed in their daily activities. The kids all wanted to practice their English on us; in a number of places, WE were the curiosities—this is not an area that gets many Western tourists. It was most interesting to see another side of Indian life than the teeming big cities.

  I was greatly intrigued by the numerous terra cotta Hindu temples in several of the towns: these were a style of architecture I was unfamiliar with. Brick built, the temples are virtually covered with hand-sculpted clay reliefs portraying the many Hindu gods and goddesses and their multitudinous adventures—I was fascinated with them and could have spent days studying the reliefs and photographing them.

  The cruise runs both upstream from Kolkata and downstream from Jangipur: my booking was the downstream trip which began with a 6 hour train ride north from Kolkata. The first full day included an all-day excursion to Gaur, an ancient dynastic capital and the seat of Mughal power beginning in the late 12th century—this required a 3-4 hour expedition (each way) in private cars on the Indian roads. If riding in a large bus was frightening, riding in a normal-size private car was even more terrifying—now we weren’t the largest vehicle on the road and the adrenaline overdose was almost more than we could take.

  And all of this in extreme heat (90°F/32°C and up) and humidity; fortunately, the bugs and mosquitoes seemed also to be too lazy to attack. Not the easiest trip I’ve taken, but very rewarding.