Varanasi To Dibrugarh On A Ship: How MV Ganga Vilas Brings Ultra-Luxury Tourism To India’s Waterways

Ankit Saxena

Jan 13, 2023, 05:09 PM | Updated 05:42 PM IST

The MV Ganga Vilas
The MV Ganga Vilas
  • The cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,000 km, passing through a total of 27 river systems on its course. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the MV Ganga Vilas today (13 January) in a ceremony in Varanasi.  

    The MV Ganga Vilas is a cruise from Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) to Dibrugarh (Assam) via Bangladesh through a network of water systems of both the countries. It marks the launch of ultra-luxury tourism on the waterways of India.  

    Beginning from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the cruise will go on a journey of 50 days before it reaches Dibrugarh. It will also cruise through Bangladesh for a little more than two weeks. 

    Operated by the Antara Luxury River Cruises, the price of a single day on the cruise, for one person, would be between Rs 25,000-50,000, and the entire journey would cost Rs 20 lakh per ticket. 

    The cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,000 km, passing through a total of 27 river systems on its course. 

    This includes the major rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra in Uttar Pradesh and Assam respectively. Additionally, it will sail through West Bengal on the rivers Hooghly, Malata and also through the Sundarbans. In Bangladesh, the cruise is set to cover rivers Padma, Meghna and Jamuna. 

    What Will 50 Days On-Board Look Like?

    The trip plans to cover around 50 selected sites and travel destinations. At the stopovers, the MV Ganga Vilas would also include activities for tourists to experience India’s art, culture, and music at recognised World Heritage Sites, national parks, and river ghats, among others. For example, the Ganga Aarti in Varanasi is a part of the Ganga Vilas itinerary. 

    The itinerary also includes Sarnath, near Varanasi, which is recognised as amongst the most important sites in Buddhism. 

    In Bihar, the travellers will visit the Bihar School of Yoga and the Vikramshila University.  

    In Bengal, the cruise will sail through the Sunderbans, the largest mangrove ecosystem in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

    The cruise would also cover Mayong (Assam), known for its rich heritage of the Tantric tradition, and Majuli, the largest river-island and first island district, again in Assam. Additionally, the Assam leg of the journey includes a visit to the Kaziranga National Park as well. 

    Apart from the important cultural destinations, the cruise would also allow visitors to explore the urban centres of Varanasi, Patna, Sahibganj, Kolkata, Guwahati, Sibsagar and Dibrugarh.

    Growth For Inland Waterways

    While the Ganga Vilas caters to the niche category of ultra-luxurious tourism, a good response to the cruise would be good news for the entire water-based tourism industry.

    At local levels, the growth of organised river-based tourism is expected to generate formal and regular employment opportunities.

    “This will be the single-largest river journey by a single river ship in the world and would put both India and Bangladesh on the river cruise map of the world,” said Sarabananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways at the Varanasi event today. 

    Considering the aesthetics, interiors, along with the hospitality planned for visitors on board, the Ganga Vilas cruise may soon bring India’s river tourism to the international league of prominent cruise journeys and become a major attraction of global luxury tourism.

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