Kashi looks on in delight as stunner Ganga Vilas preens in the waters

Updated on Jan 14, 2023 12:55 AM IST

Huge crowd mills around on Ravidas Ghat to catch a glimpse of the luxurious ship and record a historical moment on camera

The cruise would pass through five states and 27 rivers of India and Bangladesh. (HT)
The cruise would pass through five states and 27 rivers of India and Bangladesh. (HT)

VARANASI: Ravidas Ghat, the place where the world’s longest river cruise Ganga Vilas was docked before being flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a grand event organised by the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways, Government of India here on Friday, was full of teeming multitudes and people said it seemed as if the entire Kashi had descended there to capture the glimpse of the cruise.

“Barring festive days, we have never witnessed such a huge crowd at the Ghat, that too on a winter morning,” said Sonu Majhi, a local boatman who reached the Ghat with his family to catch a glimpse of one of the most luxurious voyages.

“I and my family wanted to become a part of this historical moment. Hence, we made sure that we reached here early to click some pictures with Ganga Vilas,” said Monu who wants his son to be a captain of the cruise.

Many others were also busy clicking pictures with the ship in the background. Sudhakar, a private employee, came with his wife to click some memorable pictures. “Our love story began from the film Titanic. Though we haven’t seen Titanic, we wanted to have a similar feel and hence we decided to visit the Ghat to capture the glimpse of this cruise that is said to be the world’s longest,” said Sudhakar.

Tea vendors at the Ghat had roaring business in the morning. The PM’s event began at around 10am soon after he came online, via video conferencing, at the event organised at the Ghat.

Soon after being flagged off by the PM, the massive cruise left for Dibrugarh (Assam). Officials engaged in the ship operation said the cruise would pass through five states and 27 rivers of India and Bangladesh. As per the route, the cruise will start from Varanasi and reach Patna on the eighth day of the journey, passing through Buxar, Ramnagar, and Ghazipur. From Patna, the cruise will leave for Kolkata and reach there on the 20th day. From Kolkata, it will leave for Dhaka and then move on to its final destination -- Dibrugarh -- via Guwahati and Sibsagar.

During the journey, the ship would make pit stops at over 50 architecturally important places, including world heritage sites. “It will also pass through national parks and sanctuaries, including the Sundarbans Delta and the Kaziranga National Park, to make the journey all the more adventurous,” officials added.

With the capacity to accommodate 80 passengers, Ganga Vilas boasts of 18 luxury suites and five-star facilities. “The cruise is built with a unique design and a futuristic vision. Ganga Vilas blends cultural and modern amenities with minimalistic designs and defines the boutique experiences on the water. The suites have soothing interiors with dedicated colour palettes. These have been furnished with numerous amenities such as a bathroom with shower, convertible beds, French balcony, LED TV, safe, smoke detectors, life vests and sprinklers,” said officials of the U.P. tourism department.

Additionally, the cruise also has a grand restaurant, spa, and sundeck. “Its 40-seater restaurant, located on the main deck, consists of a few buffet counters serving continental and Indian delicacies. The al fresco ambiance of the upper deck features a bar furnished with real teak steamer chairs and coffee tables that are enough to give a one-of-its-kind cruising experience to the guests,” officials added.

Tent City: Another feather in Kashi’s cap

The tent city that the PM also inaugurated on Friday is on the lines of the tent city of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, established in around 100-hectare area opposite the Ghats towards Ramnagar, as per Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) officials.

They said the makeshift city was equipped with Swiss cottages, including Ganga Darshan Villas, premium tents and super deluxe tents. Ganga Darshan Villas are the grandest of all with a size of 900 square feet, with living area, king size bed, hall and other facilities including private beach, plunge pool, and the strappings of luxury. The cost is 20,000 per person for one night and two days. Similarly, the package for premium tents and super deluxe tents (500 square feet area) is 14,000 and 12,000 respectively.

Officials said the tent city would have around 200 accommodations that were enough to meet the shortage of accommodation during peak.season. Rahul Mehta, president of Tourist Welfare Association, Varanasi said of late Varanasi had witnessed a surge in the number of inbound tourists. As per the UP government record, in 2022 over 7 crores tourists visited Kashi.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Oliver Fredrick is working in capacity of Senior Correspondent and is based in Lucknow. Other than covering important beats like Railways, Defense, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), District Administration, he loves to write on human interest stories as it gives an instant connect with the readers. In his career of around 10 years, he has done several path-breaking stories which had forced the State Government authorities to take appropriate actions. Prior coming to Lucknow, he was based in Bareilly and was taking care of politically-sensitive West UP districts like Rampur, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Badaun,Muzaffarnagar and others.

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