Then we have the wonderful Sanctuary Ananda Boat that takes one down the Irriwaddy River in Burma (Myanmar) for eleven days - a truly heavenly way to explore this part of the country.
The Brahmaputra rises high on the Tibetan plateau – a river as old as the Himalayas, forced eastwards by the rising mountains to finally break through in great gorges to Arunachal as the Dihang, before entering the plains of Assam as the Brahmaputra – son of Brahma the Creator and the only ‘male’ river in India. It is a great meandering braided river which is still – despite extensive silting – navigable for much of its length, a circumstance that aided the British in their quest for tea, timber and oil. The Brahmaputra River Cruise offers a fascinating ‘inner view’ of remote villages, weaving communities, tea gardens, splendid wildlife, including Gangetic dolphins and stops at the legendary park of Kaziranga and Orang to look for elephants, rhinos and even tigers. Comfortable cabins, warm, friendly and efficient service, excellent food, expert cultural and naturalist guides all combine to make this an experience of a lifetime, bringing alive the human and natural landscapes of this intriguing and often overlooked region of India. You can select between 4, 7 and 10-night cruises or combine these for a 14-night cruise.
Ganges & Hugli Cruises:
For millennia the Ganges has nourished all of India’s great empires – from the Mauryas, whose great Emperor Ashoka spread Buddhism around Asia, to the Great Mughals and finally the British and other the East India Company. The cities, forts, temples, mosques and markets that flourished remain surprisingly intact and vigorous even if largely ignored by motor-borne tourists clinging to highways that skirt the floodplains of the river. The Hugli and Ganges cruises are the most wonderful way to experience this hidden India. Here you will find the historic European colonies, great palaces and forts as in Murshidabad and Chunar, jaw-droppingly beautiful terracotta temples; mighty mosques; rainbow-hued local bazaars; sudden explosions of colour that mark a local festival; great battlefields like Plassey; idyllic villages buried in lush green fields sheltered by towering bamboo groves and the endlessly fascinating life on the river. The Ganges and Hugli cruises are about many highlights, but also about sudden spontaneous encounters only possible when you travel slow in small groups. These are easily some of our favourite experiences on a luxury Indian holiday. Highly recommended.
Cruising the Ayeyarwady– Burma:
Bordered by five countries – Thailand, Laos, China, Bangladesh and India – Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a gentle land of shimmering lakes, mythical rivers, emerald forests and villages unchanged for centuries. Its people are full of warmth and grace. Burma’s temples and stupas, shrines and monasteries are as much part of the landscape as her colourful markets, vibrant festivals and remote villages. It is a land waiting to be uncovered… waiting to be discovered…but gently, slowly and with care which is why one of the best ways to explore her beauty is on by the luxury cruise ship Ananda, although there are also Orient Express boats too such as the luxury Orcaella with her 7 and 11 day cruises and the larger Road to Mandalay – both complete with swimming pools. The Ananda offers cruises from three nights to twelve days, from Bagan to Mandalay, visiting local villages and markets en route and the longer cruises tend to explore the more remote regions. One can also sail via the Chindwin River, watching the scenic landscapes pass by. The excursions will include many tribal villages where you can learn about the local people and their customs. Cruising the Ayeyarwady River is a fabulous way to see inner Myanmar – in comfort and luxury.
Houseboats in Srinagar and Kerala:
A houseboat is one of the finest ways of exploring the lesser trammelled routes of India, especially in Srinagar and Kashmir. A houseboat is the most wonderful, dreamy experience. Watch local life at a pace almost unassociated with our present lifestyles. We are all in favour of the Go Slow holiday movement – allowing one to absorb the sights, sounds and pleasures of our surroundings – and a stay on a houseboat allows just this. With bicycles on board, one can stop and cycle around villages, perhaps having tea with the local people and chatting to them, or even just walking around and marvelling at this beautiful, verdant region. Watch as the locals barter along the river, trading their wares and in the morning washing their hair or doing their laundry – and all of this can be gazed at from a distance – immersing yourself into the lives of others, without any form of intrusion.
River cruise highlights:
- Calcutta! (Kolkata). Enquire about our walking tours that reveal the wonderful history of this astonishing city.
- The terracotta temples of Kalna.
- Intriguing Murshidabad – capital of the Nawabs of Bengal, who lost Bengal (and India) to Clive.
- The lush, idyllic fields that yield three crops a year.
- Fascinating and colourful bazaars thronging with friendly people.
- Sitting in a dilapidated chai (tea) shop drinking delicious strong tea and chatting with the surprisingly literate and educated customers.
- The incredible cattle fair of Sonepur in Bihar – largest of its kind. This is around Diwali in early autumn. Book this trip well in advance!
- The mighty fort of Chunar.
- The royal ruins of Gaur.
- Monghyr and Ghazipur – with Mughal and British buildings, including the tomb of Cornwallis.
- Ganges river dolphins.
- Endless small surprises for the curious.