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High on Hooghly and heritage

Moored to the Millennium Park jetty on Monday, the refurbished MV Bengal Ganga looked resplendent and proud before its first voyage from a Hooghly wharf to Patna. It is the first luxury liner to be allowed to dock at Millennium Park after the Heritage River Cruises Private Limited, which has been operating the cruise for five years, signed an MoU with the transport department. Company chairman Raj Singh said the next target would be Calcutta to Dhaka via the Sunderbans. “I will talk to chief minister Mamata Banerjee to remove the hurdles,” transport minister Madan Mitra said. Metro got a glimpse of the vessel before the passengers moved in

The ship

At 60m fore and aft, it is fairly long and spacious for a riverboat. It can carry 56 patrons in its 28 twin-bedded cabins and a saloon, decked out with bungalow-style cane and wooden furniture and Rajashthani dolls. Polished wooden floors, stairs and panels give the vessel a retro look. The sun deck has a spa. There are 18 cabins in the middle deck. Each room opens on to a long verandah. The dining room has a rack full of lentils and spices.

The cruise

A nine-day trip to Patna with stopovers along the way. Onboard entertainment and off-boat excursions to Bengal’s backwoods will ensure that no dull moment creeps up. “We have trained guides to brief tourists about the heritage places,” said a company official.

The fare

Around $2,000 (Rs 1,24,000 at current exchange rate) but the fare may fluctuate between $1,500 and $2,000 depending on the demand. The ship will operate between September and March. Unlike other cruises on the Calcutta-Patna circuit, this does not offer pick-up or drops from the airport or bus/rail stations. Log on to www.bengalganga.com for details.

The food

Continental and Indian, including local cuisine. Desserts will be purely desi, though. Vegetables and fish will be bought fresh along the way.

The stops

  • Chandernagore: Former French colony. The museum is a top draw
  • Kalna: A clutch of 108 Shiva temples built in 1809
  • Mayapur: The world headquarters of Iskcon
  • Murshidabad: Capital of the nawabs
  • Gour: Three dynasties — the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas and the Muslim nawabs — ruled from here