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Cruise India's sacred river, the Ganges, its shores dotted with colonial towns, sleepy villages, mango orchards and bathers on a pilgrimage seeking its cleansing waters. Explore the expansive, 114-room Hazarduari Palace, wander the ruins of the ancient city of Gaur, experience the colonial grandeur of Kolkata, the capital of British India, and witness the fascinating riverside prayer ritual of Ganga Aarti in Varanasi on this exploration of India's cities and waterways.
Depart London Heathrow on your scheduled overnight flight to Kolkata, via Mumbai.
On arrival in Kolkata, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. An afternoon tour of Kolkata, once considered the greatest colonial city of the Orient, takes you around the grand marble Victoria Memorial and St. Paul's Cathedral, often called the 'Taj' of the British Raj. Drive past some of Kolkata's most beautiful buildings, including St. John's Church, the High Court, Eden Gardens and BBD Bagh, a square in the commercial centre, before visiting Park Street Cemetery, a sprawling cemetery used from the mid 18th to 19th century.
Embark on your seven-night Ganges river cruise and experience the tranquil beauty of India's sacred river. Sail past the picturesque, old Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore, the military centre of British India. Disembark for a stroll through the cantonment past the Semaphore Tower, Government House, the Temple of Fame and the gardens of Flagstaff House, where many of the British statues removed from central Kolkata are housed. Enjoy the night-time sights and lights on the water's edge as you sail through the night.
Sail up to charming Chandernagore to explore the remnants of French colonial rule, seen in the splendid collection of French artefacts housed in Dupleix's House and the white-stone, French-inspired facade of The Sacred Heart Church. Visit the imposing Imambara mosque at Hooghly then board your ship and cruise upstream to moor for the night.
A rickshaw ride through today's port of call, Kalna, takes you through this verdant, countryside town to terracotta temples and the town's unique Shiva temple - 108 shrines arranged in concentric rings. Travel onward through the countryside to Mayapur, its skyline dominated by the towering domes of the impressive, new ISKCON temple. Sail on through the night to a mooring near Matiari.
In the brass working village of Matiari, locals smelt, shape, polish and engrave brass water pots and vessels using primitive brass working practices. Watch these skilled artisans at work before visiting the battlefield of Plassey, where the battle of 1757 changed the course of Indian history. The boat will moor on the banks of Murshidabad for the night.
Back on land, visit the Khushbagh, a peaceful Moghul-style garden enclosing the tombs of Siraj ud-Daulah, the last ruler of Bengal, and his family. Continue upstream to the grand Hazarduari Palace to explore its 1,000 doors, 114 rooms, and extensive collection of pictures, china and weapons. Journey to the crumbling ruins of the Katra Mosque and walk the hallways of the Nashipara and Katgola Palaces with their intriguing fusion of Indian and European architecture, characteristic of the 'White Moghul' period when English and Indian cultures began to intermingle.
Drop anchor at the delightfully sleepy village of Baranagar and walk through fields and farms to a terracotta temple complex, experiencing rural India at its most idyllic. Enjoy the journey up the Hooghly River, at this point a waterway meandering between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. A long, scenic canal takes you to a mooring close to the Farakka Barrage.
Disembark at Farakka for a full-day excursion to Gaur, an ancient ruined city on the India-Bangladesh border. Wander the remains of the mosques, palaces and gateways that once made up this great city before returning to the ship for the evening.
Find your land legs as your cruise comes to an end. A train ride to Kolkata allows you to experience the fourth largest railway network in the world and gives you the chance to take in some of the beautiful landscapes racing by. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Kumartuli, home to a community of over 400 potters who masterfully create thousands of clay idols of local gods, goddesses and demons, carrying on an age-old tradition of craftsmanship. Later, visit the lavishly decorated Jain Temple, adorned with mirrors, chandeliers and intricately paved marble floors, before continuing on to your Kolkata hotel for your overnight stay.
This morning's flight takes you to Varanasi, India's spiritual centre and one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. This evening's tour leads to the banks of the Ganges River, lined with temples, pavilions and vast stone steps, or 'ghats', used daily by thousand of pilgrims in their daily cleansing rituals. Witness the spellbinding Ganga Aarti ceremony where fire-lit offerings are floated down the river.
Watch the sun rise over Varanasi with an early morning boat trip on the Ganges, allowing a different perspective of this vibrant and colourful waterfront city. After breakfast and a morning of relaxation, an afternoon trip takes you to the ancient temples of Sarnath, the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site where Buddha gave his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. Wander these holy ruins before returning to Varanasi for an evening at leisure.
After breakfast, fly to Delhi then travel onward to Agra. Although known primarily as the site of the Taj Mahal, which draws large crowds of international and local visitors annually, this seat of the Mughal Empire also brims with ancient Mandir temples, mausoleums, forts and jostling marketplaces, many of them UNESCO-recognised landmarks and structures.
Begin the day with a visit to the jewel of Agra and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Witness the distinctive minarets and gleaming dome of this spectacular ivory-white mausoleum, commissioned by grief-stricken Emperor Shah Jajan to hold the remains of his beloved third wife. After lunch, explore the colossal complex of the Agra Fort, a vast red sandstone city of striking pavilions, palaces and courtyards enclosed behind 20-metre-high walls.
Travel to the sprawling metropolis of Delhi and enjoy a short tour of the colonial buildings of the planned city of New Delhi. Drive past the India Gate, President's House and Parliament Building and visit the Birla Temple, adorned in carvings and fresco paintings and made of 2,000 tonnes of white marble.
Old Delhi's labyrinth of streets and ancient temples lie alongside the wide avenues and colonial-era buildings of New Delhi, blending tradition and modernity. Take a rickshaw ride through the lively streets of Old Delhi, past the UNESCO-listed Humayun's Tomb and the imposing Red Fort, with its vast hallways, elaborately designed gardens and marble pavilions, typical of the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. Take in the bright colours, bustle and activity of the streets before crossing into New Delhi, stopping at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, wreathed in floral tributes, and the ancient mosques and tower of Qutab Minar.
After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your return flight to London.
A visa is required for entry into India. British Citizen Passport Holders will need to obtain an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for travel to India. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £96 per person. The Travel Visa Company can only apply for this 120 days before your proposed travel date and takes around 10 working days to issue. It is only valid for a 60 day single entry stay from the date of arrival. When calling the Travel Visa Company they will advise you of any changes to the fees or the procedure, they will also advise you of all information they will require in order to apply for the visa. Alternatively, you can visit The Indian Visa Application Centre in London: 142-148 Goswell Road, London, EC1B 7DU. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months before you enter India. Visa requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Mercury Holidays. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of €300pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your initial flight is to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata with Jet Airways (9W), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 4. Your return flight will be from Delhi airport. Please note that final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10-days before departure. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage, however, the restriction on your domestic flights is 15kg per person, so you may want to pack less or make heavy items such as cameras easily transferable to your hand luggage to avoid any issues. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3-hours before departure. Checked baggage allowance may vary. Please refer to the bottom right of your E-ticket receipt for the correct baggage allowance. For example, if it shows '20k' this means your allowance is 20kg; or '1PC' means one piece not exceeding 23kg.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot, and includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10. In the unlikely event that there are fewer than 10 passengers booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is an escorted tour, meaning that you will be met on arrival by your guide who will remain with you during the land part of this tour. For the Ganges Cruise, guides and representatives are included in the cruise package.
The currency in India is the Rupee or Rs. The Rupee is a closed currency and officially you are not allowed to take any cash out of India. US Dollars and GBP are also widely accepted in India should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £500 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour. Tipping is at your discretion; however, we would recommend approximately £12 per person for the duration of your tour. Any accompanying guides we suggest approx. £3 per person per day and for the driver we suggest approx. £1 per person per day. All tips will be collected by your guide at the beginning of your tour for your convenience. Tips are accepted in the local currency, however, it is asked that if you do not tip in the local currency that you only pay with notes, as coins cannot be exchanged. You may be asked for your credit card details on check-in at the hotels in order to cover any extras incurred during your stay. If you do not have
a credit card, you may be asked for a cash deposit. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in hotels.
|Depart UK||Arrive UK||Price|
|31 Jul 2018||16 Aug 2018||€2496|
|30 Oct 2018||15 Nov 2018||€3583|
|13 Nov 2018||29 Nov 2018||€3583|
|05 Dec 2018||21 Dec 2018||€3168|
|02 Jan 2019||18 Jan 2019||€3023|
|30 Jan 2019||15 Feb 2019||€3471|
|27 Feb 2019||15 Mar 2019||€3471|
|03 Apr 2019||19 Apr 2019||€2911|
|16 Apr 2019||02 May 2019||€2295|
|30 Jul 2019||15 Aug 2019||€2463|
|17 Dec 2019||02 Jan 2020||€3247|
For your river cruise along the Ganges River, your ship will be ABN Rajamahal, apart from departure dates 18/04/2018 & 05/12/2018 which will be ABN Sukapha and is of the same standard.
The order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions or for operational purposes. Your local guide will inform you of any schedule changes as they are informed of them. Some road construction and/or weather conditions may lengthen the driving times. Our intention is to adhere to the day-to-day itinerary as printed; however, the order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions.
Weather can vary quite considerably throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.
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