Day 1: Embark Cruise & sail to Barrackpore (D)
You are collected from your hotel late morning. Embark midday on your ship and sail up past the old Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore, land and take a walk through the cantonment past the Semaphore Tower, Government House, the Temple of Fame, and Flagstaff House, its garden housing many of the British statues removed from central Calcutta. At high tides it may be necessary to perform the first mile or two under low clearance bridges by a launch before boarding the cruise ship at Bally Bridge.
Day 2: Cruise to Chandernagore (BLD)
Sail up to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950, and visit the 18th century church and Dupleix’s House containing a small museum. Drive on to visit the Dutch cemetery at Chinsura, the Imambara at Hugli and the Portuguese church at Bandel where you reboard your ship and cruise upstream, leaving urban sprawl and cruising through the night to a mooring near Kalna.
Land at the country town of Kalna and take cycle rickshaws to see a group of some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings made up of 108 shrinelets. Continue on through the countryside to Mayapur, its skyline dominated by the vast new ISKCON temple. Visit on the opposite bank at Nabadwip the older and humbler temples entwined within a giant banyan tree before sailing on through the night to a mooring near Matiari.
Day 4: Visit village Matiari, Later cruise to Plassey (BLD)
This morning visit the brassworking village of Matiari where you can see the whole primitive process of beating out brass water pots and other vessels. Later cruise on past the battlefield of Plassey where in 1757 Clive’s defeat of Siraj-ud-Daulah changed the course of Indian history, to moor at Murshidabad.
Day 5: Cycle rickshaw to Kushbagh (BLD)
Land and travel by cycle rickshaw to the Khushbagh, a peaceful Moghul-style garden enclosing the tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah and his family. Continue a little way upstream to where the Nawab’s great Hazarduari Palace, built by an English architect in 1837, dominates the waterfront. Inside are an extensive collection of pictures, china, weapons and other objects. Visit also the great Katra Mosque and drive out to two amazing buildings of the late 18th century, the Nashipara Palace and the Katgola Palace. Both were built in classical Georgian style by rich local merchants and represent the other side of the coin of the “White Moghul” period when English and Indian cultures came close to fusion. Overnight on the riverbank across from town.
Day 6: Visit village Barnagar & cruise to Jangipur (BLD)
Moor at the delightful sleepy village of Baranagar with three gorgeous miniature terracotta temples to which you walk through the fields. This is rural India at its most idyllic. Continue up the Hugli, here a charming waterway twisting and turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. Carry on to moor at dusk at Jangipur.
Day 7: Cruise to Farraka Barrage(BLD)
From Jangipur, near where the Hugli flows out from the Ganges, a morning excursion explores native villages where silk is woven and “bidis” (primitive cigarettes) are rolled. In the afternoon, cruise up a long canal section to the Farakka Barrage.
A full day excursion by road is also available at extra cost ($50 pp) for those just taking the Bengal Despatch 1 7-night itinerary to Gaur, near the town of Malda, or English Bazar. This quiet, deserted place was once one of India’s great cities, first under the Hindus in 12th century, then as the muslim capital of Eastern India from the 14th to the 16th century. There are plentiful remains of mosques, palaces and gateways and you visit a number of the most interesting before rejoining the ship in the evening at Farakka.
Day 8: Tour ends. Departure transfer to Station (B)
For those taking the Bengal Despatch 1 7-night cruise, dawn transfer to Farakka station for morning 6 hr train journey to Calcutta. Alternatively it is possible to travel on by road to Silguri and Darjeeling (transfer not included in cruise price).
For those taking both Bengal Despatch 1 and 2 cruises, a full day excursion by road takes you to Gaur. This quiet, deserted place was once one of India’s great cities, first under the Hindus in the 12th century, then as the muslim capital of Eastern India from the 14th to the 16th century. There are plentiful remain of mosques, palaces and gateways. Later travel on through the town of Malda, or English Bazar, to Pandua where you will visit the great 14th century Adina Mosque before returning to Farakka where your ship will have passed through the lock at the barrage.