Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (13 January) flagged off the world's longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, which will cover 3,200 kilometers across 27 river systems, in five states, in India and Bangladesh in 51 days.
MV Ganga Vilas is the first-ever cruise vessel to be made in India and it began its journey from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and will reach Dibrugarh in Assam, via Bangladesh.
The beginning of the cruise service on River Ganga is a landmark moment and it will herald a new age of tourism in India, the Prime Minister said and invited foreign tourists to come to India and explore the vibrancy of the country.
Underlining the central role of River Ganga in the life of every Indian, the Prime Minister lamented that the area around the banks lagged behind in development in the post-independence period, thereby, leading to a massive exodus of population from this area.
The Prime Minister elaborated on a twin approach to address this unfortunate situation. On the one hand, the campaign to clean Ganga was undertaken through Namami Gange and ‘Arth Ganga’ was taken up on the other. In ‘Arth Ganga’, steps have been taken to create an environment of economic dynamism in the states from where Ganga passes.
Throwing light on the experience of the river cruise, the Prime Minister informed that it has something special for everyone.
He added that those seeking spirituality will cover destinations like Kashi, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Patna Sahib and Majuli, tourists looking out for a multinational cruise experience will get the opportunity to visit Dhaka in Bangladesh, and those wanting to witness the natural diversity of India will cross through Sundarbans and the forests of Assam.
Observing that the cruise will pass through 25 different river streams, the Prime Minister said that this cruise has significant importance for those who have a keen interest in understanding the river systems of India. He also mentioned that it is a golden opportunity for those who want to explore the myriad culinary and cuisines of India.
“One can witness the extraordinary amalgamation of the heritage of India and its modernity on this cruise”, the Prime Minister remarked as he shed light on the new era of cruise tourism where new employment opportunities will be created for the youth of the country.
“Not just foreign tourists but Indians who traveled to different nations for such an experience can head towards North India now”, the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Modi further said the river cruise will promote tourism and create new job opportunities. He also added that more river cruise systems are being developed in various parts of the country.
According to an official statement, the luxury cruise has three decks, 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists, with all the luxury amenities. The maiden voyage has 32 tourists from Switzerland signing up for the entire length of the journey, it added.
The 51-day cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
The journey will give the tourists an opportunity to embark upon an experiential voyage and indulge in the art, culture, history, and spirituality of India and Bangladesh, the statement said.
Prime Minister Modi also inaugurated the Tent City in Varanasi. The Tent City, developed on the banks of the Ganga, opposite the famed ghats of the holy city, aims to tap the tourism potential of the region.
Developed by the Varanasi Development Authority in public-private-partnership mode, the Tent City will provide accommodation facilities to tourists along with live classical music and yoga sessions among others. Tourists can reach Tent City by boats from different ghats of Varanasi.
It will be operational from October to June and will be dismantled for three months due to the rise in river water level, in the rainy season.
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