India is planning to launch the longest river cruise in the world between Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Dibrugarh (Assam) in January 2023.
The 50-day "Ganga Vilas" voyage covers a distance of ~4000 km and passes through Bangladesh.
The 2023's river expedition will start on January 10th and end in Dibrugarh on March 1st, after visiting Kolkata/Calcutta and Dhaka.
The IWAI-Inland Waterways Authority of India signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Antara Luxury River Cruises and JM Baxi River Cruises. The operators will decide the ticket price without the intervention of the Centre.
After commencing at Varanasi, the voyage will reach Patna on the 8th day, and from there, it is expected to reach Kolkata on the 20th day. Following a day's halt, it will set sail again for Bangladesh to spend 15 days before entering India and reaching Bogibeel (Dibrugarh).
According to the Minister of ports, shipping and waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, the Ganga Vilas cruise would sail from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in the longest river journey of 50 days covering a total of 27 river systems and visiting 50+ tourist sites including world heritage sites.
"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.
"The service will facilitate all kinds of tourists. Moreover, with the amendment to Indian Vessel Act, cruise lines would have national permit to move seamlessly across states."
Image: Port of Kolkata (Calcutta) India
Coastal/river shipping, including cruise services, is a government priority, in a try to create a network of shipping lanes and bring down the cost of freight transport in India.
The Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route is facilitating the cruise's 1,100-kilometre journey in the neighbouring country. The route, which connects Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers, has opened trade/transit channels between the 2 countries.