In August I was lucky enough to have my first trip to India and I undertook a 7 day riverboat trip with Assam Bengal Navigation.
This trip started in Calcutta and headed north up the Hooghly River, finishing at a small town called Jangipur where we made our way back to Calcutta by train.
The boat trip was real luxury and took us through some very scenic and remote part of West Bengal. There was never a dull moment from the sundeck with constantly changing scenery and many villages with people all waving as you went by. Wildlife and birds were also abundant along the way and we were lucky enough to spot amongst others kingfishers, open billed storks, jackals and even numerous Ganges River Dolphins which were a real highlight for me! The food served each meal time on the boat was also something to be looked forward to and each meal was a real gastronomic experience.
Each day we did shore excursions to rural villages, archaeological sites, temples and other places of historical significance, such as the battlefield at Plassey where Clive of India changed the course of the history of the British in India. There was a really good balance between the history and culture which is so complex in this part of India. The local people were incredibly friendly and welcoming and, as they have not been exposed to large numbers of tourists, were all very keen to have their photos taken and there was no-one asking for anything as we walked around the villages – a pleasant change to many other parts of India and indeed the world.
The trip was truly relaxing which I believe is unusual for India and I would highly recommend this style of travel for people wanting to see parts of rural India in some luxury and without the difficulties that can be associated with individual travel in these areas.