Arrive in Calcutta (now called Kolkotta) and transfer from airport to embark on the RV Bengal Pandaw moored in the Hugli River close to the city centre. City orientation tour in afternoon; moor overnight at the Outram Ghat.
Day 2 :
Further explorations of colonial Calcutta, arguably the greatest of the British Raj cities with a stupendous architectural heritage. Still largely intact, highlights include the Queen Victoria monument and neo-gothic law courts. Cast off at midday and cruise the Hugli River to Serampore a former Danish colony and Barrackpore cantonment where the gardens of flagstaff house contain a collection of former British statues removed from the streets of Calcutta.
Day 3 :
handernagore, a French colony until 1950, we visit the house of Dupleix, a small museum, an 18th century church and then on by bus to visit the Dutch cemetery at Chinsura and a Portugese church at Bandel where we rejoin the ship.
Day 4 :
Kalna cycle rickshaw tour of Bengali terracotta temples. The river here narrows and the Bengal countryside lush and green.
Day 5 :
Visit the battlefield of Plassey where Clive of India defeated the French in 1757 and the fascinating brassworks at country village of Metiari.
Day 6 :
Kushbagh with its Moghul gardens and tombs. Visit the vast Hazarduari Palace built in 1837 by an English architect. Further visits to the Katra mosque, and the late 18th century Nashipara and Katgola palaces. Overnight at Baranagar famous for its lovely miniature temples.
Day 7 :
Cruise the Farraka Feeder Canal and enter the Ganges by lock at the Farraka Barrage.
Day 8 :
Cruise up the Ganges. Here the river is 2km across and vast panoramas unfold. The river is rich in activity with fishermen and country boats. At Munger we stop to visit the Bihar School of Yoga which lies within the 15th century Munger Fort. Near the fort is an 18th century British cemetery.
Day 9 :
Cruising through the heart of Bihar state seeing a rural India remote from the tourist track and rarely visited by foreigners. Stop for a walk ashore.
Day 10 :
Day trip to the ruins of the vast Buddhist university at Nalanda and then on after lunch in a local hotel to Bodh Gaya place of the Buddha's enlightenment and a major centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists of all sects from all countries.
Day 11 :
Patna explore the town with its huge hemispherical Golghar grain silo built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin, the State Museum with its Mauryan and Pala period Buddhist sculptures, and if traffic permits, the eclectic Jalan Museum where Napoleon's bed is on display. Cast off at mid day.
Day 12 :
Cruise all day with a village stop for a walk.
Day 13 :
Cruise all morning and afternoon coach trip to visit the important Buddhist site at Sarnath.
Day 14 :
Early morning moor off the Varanasi (Benares) Ghats. Explore on foot the Ghats, palaces, temples and museums of this one of the oldest cities in the world,. Varanasi contemporary with 7th century BC Babylon and Nineveh is the cultural heart of Hindu India at its richest and most beautiful. Evening boat trip to observe the spectacular ritual fire dances to Lord Shiva held on the Ghats.
Day 15 :
Disembark from ship at Varanasi (Benares) and transfer (included) to airport or railway station.