Nice article. If things turn out as promised, i will make a trip to the north east after my course ends....................wake up India, u have a fucking long way to go, my dear country!!!!
Though i must add, things have been changing. there have been some cruises included by MP Tourism. Anywayz, read on.....
Slowly up the Brahmaputra ASIA FILE
Barun Roy / New Delhi December 24, 2004
Forty years ago, an English author and travel journalist, Eric Newby, took a boat at Haridwar and embarked on a 1,200-mile journey down the Ganga all the way to where the Hooghly meets the sea at Sandheads.
Two years later, in 1966, he came out with a book about his remarkable adventure, Slowly Down the Ganges, as a tribute to India’s holiest river.
A few years afterwards came another well-publicised book, The Ganges, by the late Raghubir Singh, a magical photographic celebration of the river, merging “the mundane and the spiritual, the timely and the timeless,” that became immediately popular with readers in the West.
Yet in all these years it hasn’t occurred to us that such a river of history, mystery and tradition, flowing through India’s heartland and symbolising her age-long culture and civilisation, could lend itself ideally to an exciting cruise for tourists, having all the ingredients to become as attractive as cruises down the Nile or the Yangtze.
This is an aspect of tourism that India hasn’t paid any attention to. Once upon a time, during the British days, steamships used to carry passengers and cargo from Kolkata to Dibrugarh in Assam, navigating through what is now Bangladesh.
That, too, wasn’t any inspiration. India doesn’t figure at all among the great river journeys of the world. We still can’t think beyond short daytime, sunset or moonlight boat trips for honeymooners and the romantic.
It looks like this might change after all. Using a 300-mile stretch of the Brahmaputra between Guwahati and Dibrugarh, an Indo-British joint venture, Assam Bengal Navigation Co., has started offering four-to-10-night trips to mainly British groups.
The cruise, only one season old, includes stops at the Majuli, claimed to be the largest river island in the world, and Kaziranga, home of the famous one-horned rhino, besides glimpses of tribal life along the river.
Taking the cue, Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. is now planning to launch a longer, trans-national Brahmaputra cruise to operate between Dhaka and Dibrugarh, if there are no hitches — and the company doesn’t expect any — a restored colonial teak-and-brass steamer will leave Dhaka sometime in January 2006, taking trippers on an 800-mile journey past the Sunderbans, the early Buddhist archaeological site of Mahasthangarh, the Manas Tiger Reserve at Goalpara and, of course, Guwahati, Tezpur, Kaziranga, Sibsagar and all the other cultural and historical attractions along the way.
Irrawaddy Flotilla, revived from its British past, is the largest river cruise company in Myanmar and knows its business. Its trips to Mandalay from Yangon and Pagan, all on restored colonial steamers named the Pandaw, are very popular and run through teak jungles, towering cliffs, sacred cities, tribal villages and all the golden pagodas that tourists can imbibe into their mixed experience of nature, culture and adventure.
Having tasted success at home, Irrawaddy Flotilla is now looking for a bigger presence in Asia. It’s already in Thailand cruising through memories of World War II on the River Kwai, as well as in Cambodia and Vietnam plying the Mekong between Angkor Wat and Ho Chi Minh City.
It’s planning to start Upper Mekong cruises from Jinghong in China to Luang Prabang in Laos, through Myanmar and Thailand, and Red River cruises from Hanoi to Lao Cai in northern Vietnam. If the proposed Bahmaputra cruise comes through, it will be yet another proof of the growing importance of river cruises in Asian tourism.
This importance is nowhere as evident as in China, where the Yangtze cruise is a year-round sell-out event. This mighty river is navigable for over 6,000 km and boats pass through the magnificent Three Gorges towards Xiling, twisting through a landscape of rushing rapids, majestic peaks, caves and temples.
Then there is the Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo and widely acclaimed as the most scenic river journey in China. Often called the Hundred Mile Gallery, trippers find themselves surrounded by rolling hills, steep cliffs, ancient caves and immense groves of bamboo in an amazing display of nature’s beauty. Not to be outdone is the Grand Canal Cruise from Suzhou to Hangzhou, an enthralling journey imparting the full flavours of China’s poetry and art.
The Mekong is Asia’s next major river cruise hub in the making. With all the six nations in its basin pitching in to promote tourism in the sub-region, the tourist potential of this river is potentially as big as that of the Yangtze.
The Mekong, incredibly rich in biodiversity, offers a breathtaking journey through gorgeous mountain scenery and hillside villages where ethnic minorities still retain their age-old cultural traditions.
Once an ongoing navigation improvement project in the upper reaches of the river is completed, even large ships will be able to sail all the way to China — an attraction for tourists that will be hard to beat.