Heritage River Journeys, the luxury river cruise brand from the Exotic Heritage Group, has announced three special departures in 2020 that combine a Ganges cruise from Kolkata, transfers, and a stay at The Bagh Resort, the luxury travel group’s hotel located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Prices for the three departures in 2020 start from USD$2,995pp (around £2,485pp) for two people sharing one cabin/room. Departure dates onboard Bengal Ganga are 14 January 2020, 24 March 2020 and 1 April 2020. Flights from the UK depart one day prior to cruise departure.

The 11-night itinerary starts with a seven-night Ganges river cruise onboard RV Bengal Ganga, departing from and returning to Kolkata. The itinerary explores the rich history of the Ganges, visiting temples, monuments and palaces that grew over the generations of trade along the river.

Bengal Ganga has a design reminiscent of the colonial ships used by the Viceroys of British India, with 28 state rooms, leisure areas and dining rooms that exude luxury. Revitalising activities like yoga, meditation and spa treatments are offered when guests are not enjoying the daily excursions, dining or watching life on the banks of the Ganges.

After morning arrival in Kolkata, guests will embark Bengal Ganga at the Botanical Garden Jetty and enjoy lunch followed by a stroll in the famous gardens. Much of day 2 will be spent on a panoramic tour of Kolkata, before passengers commence the upstream journey on the Ganges river, with the ship mooring for the night near the Bally Bridge.

Day 3 starts with a morning sail upstream to the Portuguese-influenced town of Bandel, before a visit to one of the famous Shiya pilgrimage centres. The cruise will continue to the temple town of Kalna, for a rickshaw ride, market tour and visit to the enchanting Rajbari Temple Complex.

Guests will sail onward to Mayapur on day 5, known as the birthplace of an incarnation of Lord Krishna. It is also the home of the Krishna Consciousness Movement, where the tour takes in the fascinating culture of these followers and their colourful decorated statues. Day 6 sees the start of the cruise downstream, stopping at Guptipara, a rural town that produces the finest rice in West Bengal and the ‘Himsagar Aam, the tastiest mango on Indian soil. In the afternoon, the ship visits the weaving village of Fulia.

On day 7, Bengal Ganga sails further downstream to the city of Chandernagore, known for its beautiful French colonial architecture. The ship then returns to Kolkata where guests enjoy one final night onboard, before a morning departure from the ship.

Following the cruise and an internal flight to Raipur, guests will continue their discovery of India with a four-hour drive from Raipur Airport to Kanha National Park, set on the Chhota Nagpur Plateau in Madhya Pradesh, the area that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Indigenous tribes, virgin forests and rolling landscapes harbour tiger, deer and many other natural attractions in pristine abundance.

Guests will stay for four nights at Exotic Heritage Group’s The Bagh Resort, a forest retreat spread over 20 acres of land. Over 20,000 fruit and flowering trees nestle in the gardens that surround the 26 rooms, 16 Deluxe Cottages and 8 Junior Suites. All rooms have terraces that open towards the gardens and lake.

The resort is located just 15 minutes away from the Mukki Gate of Kanha National Park, one of the largest tiger reserves in India. Guests will enjoy morning and afternoon game viewing by jeep escorted tours and walking safaris to witness the Indian wildlife first-hand with experienced naturalists.

After check-in on day 8, guests will take an afternoon nature walk, learning about the native flora, butterflies, insects, birds and small mammals. On days 9 – 11, there will be morning and afternoon game viewings by jeep. The safaris will journey through different habitats that support an excellent variety of wildlife. The preserve was designated to save two endangered species – the tiger and the barasingha (swamp deer) – but guests may also see black buck, cheetal, Indian bison, barking deer, sambhar, leopard and more.

On day 12, guests will depart for Raipur for flight to New Delhi and onward connections.

Prices start from USD$2,995pp (around £2,485pp) for two people sharing one cabin/room. Price includes seven-night cruise itinerary onboard Bengal Ganga, four nights at The Bagh Resort, transfers and local assistance, domestic flights, most meals and some drinks, sightseeing & excursions as per programme, cultural performances, educational talks, cooking classes, ship tour, service fees and national park entry fees. International flights are additional, as are drinks not included in meal times, tips & gratuities, incidentals and visas.

For more information on Heritage River Journeys and The Bagh Resort, please go to www.exoticheritagegroup.com. To book the ‘Ganges Cruise And Land Of The Jungle Book’ itinerary, please email [email protected] or call +91-11-26124069.