My favourite type of holiday is one where I can be one with nature. I do not like jostling with crowds, vying for the same vantage viewpoints, to click that ‘precious’ selfie. When I want a relaxing break, I choose to go someplace quiet. I would rather be in the midst of nature than at a touristy place.
For me, flanked by navigable rivers, provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable vacation. These destinations promise unique opportunities that you won’t experience in a typical tourist destination. I like wading through water, enjoy chilled beer, while I sit on the rocky banks of a river or stream, as tiny fish kiss my toes. But what I like most about riverside holidays is the chance to sail on a cruise boat, as the sun dips into the horizon.
River cruises provide the perfect escape, from a humdrum existence and usher you straight into the arms of mother nature. Let me walk you through my list of top 5 river cruise memories, which I cherish the most. Why hesitating? book your flight to India and enjoy your awesome vacation in these spectacular river cruises in India.
Brahmaputra River Cruise – Assam
Nothing prepares you for the mighty Brahmaputra. I was left in awe by its sheer expanse. The cruise along the Brahmaputra will definitely remain as one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The boat coursed through unspoiled landscapes, offering stunning views of the Kaziranga National Park.
I stood on the deck, mesmerized by the sight of the pristine jungle. The rhythmic sound of water, as the boat sliced through it, had a musical note to it. There was hardly any human activity along the banks of the river, however, I was lucky to spot a lot of wildlife. Birds of prey soared in the sky, migratory birds nested on the undergrowth, along the bank and ducks and other water birds dotted the waters – suddenly taking to flight.
I also spotted a herd of wild Elephants and a lone Rhino. But the most exciting part of the cruise was the pods of dolphins that suddenly showed up, alongside our boat. They swam in unison, popping in and out of the water, putting up a glorious display.
Mandovi River Cruise – Goa
Goa is famous for its lip-smacking food, music, dancing and of course beer and feni. I love Goa because of all this, but no visit to it is complete without a cruise on the river Mandovi.
All the things I love about Goa can also be enjoyed on a boat cruise. It is the atmosphere that makes it special, it is more fun, on a boat. Imagine tapping your feet to cheerful music, nibbling on the food on your plate and enjoying the local feni, as the boat sails towards the setting sun. The ambience is picture perfect; the setting sun turns the sky into a riot of colours and the calm waters of the river shimmer like liquid gold.
Houseboat Cruise in Kerala
Kerala is known for its house-boats, and no visit to Kerala is complete without a cruise on the backwaters that snake through the beautiful state. Various destinations in Kerala offer houseboat cruises, popular among them are Alleppey, Kumarakom and Kollam.
I recommend staying in a houseboat, over staying in a hotel, because all houseboats are like hotels, the only difference being they sail. You kill two birds with one stone; you enjoy the beauty of Kerala, from the confines of your hotel room, I mean houseboat. I have always found houseboat rides to be invigorating – I love to soak in the lush green countryside as the boat glides through crystal clear waters. It is a luxury you don’t get to savour in other parts of the country.
Cruise through the Sunderbans
The Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. It is one of the most picturesque locales that I have been to. A boat cruise on the Sunderbans is nothing short of pleasurable. Trust me on this. The Sunderbans is one of the largest mangrove forests, in the world. And sailing through this huge reservoir can be one of the most enthralling experiences of your life.
The cruise boat glides through the reservoir, passing through thick forests and quaint little hamlets. As you pass through the creeks, you will witness the rich biodiversity that the region has to offer – glorious flora and fauna. If luck favours, you could also spot a wild Bengal tiger.
Cruise on the Ganges
I did a cruise on the Ganges, many years ago. It was just a day-long trip, along with the ghats. I have not been on a Ganges cruise recently, but from what I have read, there are two options to explore. You can board a cruise boat in Varanasi, for the Upper Ganges, or head to Kolkata, to cruise on the Lower Ganges. Either way, it is going to be an unforgettable experience.
The Ganges is a sacred river, and Varanasi the holiest Indian city. A cruise generally lasts between 7-14 days depending on the itinerary. Each tour takes you through all the important holy places and ghats, with halts to explore the sites.
A tour starting at Kolkata would follow the following path –
Cruises add a different dimension to your holiday. They are more relaxing than the rushed sightseeing vacations we normally take.