River cruising in India offers a totally unique travel experience – experience startling natural, historical, cultural and religious highlights in the utmost comfort and luxury.
As of December 2018, cruising company Pandaw will start expanding its operations in India, adding more stunning river cruise vessels to what is swiftly becoming one of the most popular river cruising destinations in Asia. The move comes as demand increases for cruises in the Lower and Upper Ganges, as well as Brahmaputra River – and, here at Get About Asia, we think the move couldn’t happen a moment too soon!
More options, more itineraries and more fabulous adventures, with one of the most respected cruise operators in the world: Pandaw cruising more of India is the best news of the year.
Why River Cruising in India?
There’s a myriad of reasons why river cruising is immensely popular in India – a country renowned for its overwhelming vibrancy (or as some might call it, head spinning chaos) and immense size. India seems truly tailor-made for this kind of travel: from the leisurely speed to the ability to get off the beaten-trail and explore more remote locations, river cruising offers unrivalled benefits for curious travellers who want to squeeze as much as possible from their journeys. In India, this comes with an idyllic combination of luxury, comfort, safety and drastically reduced travel-times, where the journey begins the moment your foot hits the gang-plank and doesn’t stop for a second, until you disembark. India is also a very special cruising destination because it’s a country whose geography and culture has been literally shaped by its mighty rivers, held sacred by its people for aeons.
A stunning nation of immense natural beauty, India is a wildlife and wilderness lover’s dream, although you’d be hard-pressed to get a sense of that by only staying in cities and towns. Take to the water instead and you’ll experience a side of India most people don’t even know exists.
A side where it’s Mother Nature, not man, that reigns supreme.
River cruising offers a more authentic and varied experience in India, away from the maddening crowds of the major cities and right into the heart of its UNESCO-listed wildlife reserves, its charming farming and fishing villages and its most revered historical and cultural sites.
Abounding cultural experiences, culinary delights and outstanding architecture – amid all the natural gorgeousness – are India’s best calling cards and on a river cruise boat you get to experience it all, in sublime comfort and luxury.
And who on earth could say no to that?
Pandaw is Asia’s river cruising king and its most respected operator. Renowned for their professionality, quality of service and amenities and comprehensive itineraries, Pandaw is who we trust to complement our private bespoke tours of Asia.
In India, Pandaw offers unique itineraries of the best destinations and their recent announcement of fleet expansion is testament to their continued success and stellar reputation. In India, Pandaw offers no single-supplements on many Ganges River cruises, when other operators charge an extra fee. We understand this to be one of the main gripes of single travellers and having the benefit to not pay extra is a wonderful (and very popular!) bonus.
Pandaw vessels are particularly charming to boot, showcasing stunning décor, design, comfort and functionality whilst boasting shallow drafts to get you exploring further where larger vessels can’t go. Every small ship reflects the country’s heritage and cultural history and Pandaw river cruise boats are renowned for being immensely beautiful.
Where Can You River Cruise in India?
Oh, the exciting part!
In India, river cruising is done in the glorious Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and – with Pandaw now adding a sea-going vessel to its fleet – we can also add the magnificent Andaman Islands archipelago to the impressive list.
Here’s a quick lowdown on what you can expect when river cruising India:
Cruise the Ganges River
India’s longest river is its most sacred lifeline, holding tremendous religious and spiritual significance and shorelines that offer wonderful highlights. Beloved for the impressive array of temples, mosques and villages built along its shores, the Ganges is an alluring, eye-opening and spectacular river to cruise. Given its length and sheer number of attractions, Ganges river-cruises in India are offered in two sections.
Lower Ganges River Cruises in India
On the 23rd December 2018, Pandaw will launch its RV Orient Pandaw vessel (60 guests) on the Lower Ganges – a destination that’s perfect if you love an abundance of culture, history and architecture on your travel adventures. Visit the 16th-century French colony site of Chandannagar, the prominent Islamic site of Imambara, famous terracotta temples of Kalna, the Hazarduari Palace and a host of authentic villages along the way, each one unique and enticing in its own way.
Our 8-day Lower Ganges Cruise gives you a fabulous overview of where you’ll go and what you’ll see.
Upper Ganges River Cruises in India
On the Upper Ganges section, you can cruise from Kolkata to Varanasi over two sensational weeks, visiting such prestigious sites as the Hazarduari Palace, Katra Mosque and Shiva Temple, cruising through historic locks and stopping by revered Buddhist site of Vikramshila, the Mughal Fort at Munger, the stunning archaeological site of Nalanda, before finally reaching Varanasi, the reputed oldest inhabited city on earth and the holiest Hindu mecca of all. Two action-packed weeks of incredible discoveries and more than a few surprises. From October 2019, Pandaw will be introducing the RV Katha Pandaw here, a beautiful vessel whose ideal size (only 32 guests) is perfect for cruising this section of the river. The vessel is currently undergoing comprehensive refurbishment to get her ready for the next leg of her cruising life, in India.
See our 15-day Upper Granges Cruise and get a taste of all you’ll experience on this stretch of the Ganges.
Having Kolkata as a springboard for cruises along the Ganges certainly adds plenty of appeal, with options of overland touring with Get About Asia enticing guests to extend their travels beyond their Ganges river cruise, whether cruising the Lower or Upper Ganges. All cruise itineraries offer plenty of time on land, with daily excursions and sightseeing tours.
Cruise the Brahmaputra River
Pandaw will also be adding a vessel on the Brahmaputra River in October 2019, the RV Indochina Pandaw, which can accommodate 60 guests. Cruising the Brahmaputra is a very different experience to cruising the Ganges and takes guests on a whirlwind journey through the wildest corners of Assam, a province of India that’s home to two stupendous wildlife-enriched national parks, both of which are UNESCO heritage-listed. On a cruise along the Brahmaputra, you’ll still have plenty of historic and cultural sites to visit (from silk-weaving villages to prominent temples and mosques) but will also experience wildlife safaris in search of endangered Indian One-horned Rhino, wild elephants and a flurry of unique birds.
For wildlife-lovers who want it all, when visiting India, a Brahmaputra River cruise including safaris in both Manas and Kaziranga National Parks, is simply unparalleled.
Seed details of our 8-day Brahmaputra River – Wild Assam itinerary.
Cruise the Andaman Islands
Pandaw’s most anticipated move is the introduction of its seafaring vessel, the MY Andaman Explorer, to cruise the spectacular Andaman Islands in India’s Bay of Bengal, beginning February 2020. This stunning motor-yacht, first built in the 1960s and lovingly restored by the founders of Pandaw, is set to offer 7-night cruises on what are often dubbed the most beautiful islands on earth’’.
The Andamans are home to one of the world’s most pristine marine ecosystems and, on a cruise, you’ll meander the waters between the 300-odd tropical isles that make up the archipelago. Defined by their white-sand, palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters and array of coral reefs teeming with rays and colourful fish, the Andamans also boast tropical rainforests and jungles which you can explore on hikes. Here, elephants stroll on the beach and swim at sea, one of the most incredible spectacles you’ll ever see.
Cruising the Andamans is one of those enriching sailing experiences that stays with you forever.
Author: Laura Pattara
“After spending years taking short vacations in Asia, Laura finally managed her dream, travelling extensively through Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia on a 3-year-long overlanding adventure that she describes as “SIMPLY EPIC”. Following in the footsteps of ancient traders, Laura meandered along the famed Silk Road through the Stans, delighted her tastebuds for 8000km across China (no mean feat) visited an insane number of temples in Southeast Asia, all the while snorkelling, diving and beach-bumming along the way. Tickled pink by history and culture, Laura loves off-the-beaten-path destinations in Asia and anything that isn’t gift-wrapped for tourists”