January 6, 2023
NEW DELHI – The river connectivity between Bangladesh and India will come into sharp focus when a 3,200km luxury cruise, the world’s longest, connects the Indian town of Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, with Diburgarh town in Assam with nearly half of the journey through Bangladesh territory, from January 13.
Modi will flag off the cruise that will cover 50 important tourist destinations including the Kaziranga national park in Assam and the Sundarbans delta, according to Inland Waterways Authority of India.
Named “Ganga Vilas,” the cruise, to be operated by a private company, will take 50 days to complete passing through 27 river systems, including two of the world’s two longest rivers — the Ganges and Brahmaputra, in India and Bangladesh during which tourists will get a chance to visit over 50 key architectural sites including world heritage sites.
The Bangladesh part of the cruise will provide the tourists an opportunity to see Sonargaon and the ornate 1400s-era 60-dome mosque.
As per the official website, Ganga Vilas, having a capacity of 80 passengers, will be equipped with 18 suites with facilities like music, cultural programmes, gym, spa, open-air observation deck and customised butler service.
It will pass through Kolkata and Dhaka before reaching Bogibeel in Dibrugarh district of Assam. After sailing off from Varanasi, the cruise-liner will reach Patna (India) on the eighth day and from there, it will reach Kolkata on the 20th day.
After a day’s halt, it will again set sail for Bangladesh where it will spend 15 days before entering India again and reaching Bogibeel (Assam).
The prices of the cruise start at 12,800 USD per person depending on the duration for which a tourist wants to avail the journey, according to Antara, one of the private operators of the journey.
The Inland Water Authority of India officials said the India-Bangladesh Protocol route has played an important role in planning the cruise.
Highlighting the waterways in the country, Modi last week recalled the time when waterways were used on a large scale for work, business and tourism in India but were later destroyed during the years of colonial rule.
He rued lack of efforts by the previous governments in reviving the waterways in the country.
The Indian prime minister rounded off his remarks by reciting a few lines by Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “O amaar desher maati, tomar podey thekai maatha” (The soil of my country, I bow my head to you).