Set sail on a history-filled cruise down the Ganga this Holi

Antara’s ‘Europe on the Ganges’ cruise in March offers a mini history lesson of West Bengal with guided tours of colonial settlements along the Hooghly river, traditional music and Bengali cuisine, and colourful Holi celebrations on Mangaldeep island.

This Holi, you can mix colourful celebrations with an intriguing history lesson courtesy luxury cruise company Antara. As part of the three-day ‘Europe on the Ganges’ tours, scheduled from March 27-March 29, guests can set sail down the Ganga and explore the colonial heritage of West Bengal, which has been home to French, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese and English settlers. 

Once you hop aboard the Ganges Voyager on day 1, you’ll drift towards Mangaldeep island on the Hooghly river. Guests will be treated to a sundowner accompanied by a traditional baul music performance, followed by a Bengali dinner on the top deck.

Holi 2021 india
Set sail on a history-filled cruise down the ganga this holi 7

Day 2 begins with a hearty breakfast after which guests can partake in a Holi party with organic gulal, pichkaris, scented water and marigold and rose petals-plus traditional snacks and drinks, of course. The ship will set sail once more by noon to the city of Serampore, which was under Danish occupation in the late 18th century. The crew have organised a guided tour of the city, including the Denmark Tavern, a 232-year-old heritage building that has recently been restored and is now a cafe and homestay. Back on board the ship, you’ll spend the evening being serenaded by a live band before heading back towards Kolkata. 

The denmark tavern serampore
The Denmark Tavern is a 232-year-old restored heritage building at Serampore, a former Danish colony. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The cruise will culminate with a sunrise breakfast on the top deck as you take in the riverscapes of Kolkata. The cruise chef will whet your appetite before lunch with a cookery masterclass which will be followed by one last lazy meal before the ship docks. 

Keeping in mind COVID restrictions, a limited number of suites will be operational aboard the cruise ship. Guests will be required to submit health declarations and will have to maintain social distancing throughout the cruise. The crew will also be subjected to mandatory health screenings during the course of the trip. 

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