Glimpse the History of India on a Hooghly River Cruise
India is an ancient, exotic, other-worldly destination for tourists who want to explore a land and a culture totally different from their own. Once closed to visitors from the West, India now welcomes these same visitors with open arms. One of the best ways to see the sights of India is on a river cruise. The Hooghly River is located in the West Bengal section of India and features many faous and historical locations along its banks. A 7-night India cruise tour offers glimpses of the area’s physical, political, economic and spiritual history as well as sights that had never been seen by outsiders until as recently as 50 years ago.
Flowing parallel to the Ganges River, the Hooghly River meanders for about 160 miles. An India river cruise provides visitors the chance to see temples, palaces, government buildings, gardens and local villages that still practice the ancient arts of weaving silk and brass working. Along the way tourists are likely to see native animals such as Bengal tigers, rhinos, freshwater sharks and perhaps a fishing cat, the state animal of West Bengal. From terracotta temples to gardens that date from the 18th century ruler Sirah-ud-Daulah, who was defeated by British Major-General Robert Clive at the Battle of Plassey, the Hooghly River and the surrounding area offer plenty to see and do.
One of the first stops on our India cruise, Kalna, is known as the Temple City. Visitors can explore one of the premier examples of this type of temple, the Pratapeswar temple, which boasts an arched entrance gate covered with exquisite terracotta art. The Krishnachandra temple, which includes 25 towers, is another superb example of the craft of terracotta decoration. The gardens and palaces of Kushbagh are another highlight of the cruise. The garden is the final resting place of the Sirah-ud-Daulah and his family. The Nashipara Palace and the Katgola Palace, both built before 1800, feature Georgian architecture that definitively shows the change in rulers after the Battle of Plassey.
Visitors who want to witness the creation of artistic handiwork that goes back centuries will enjoy side trips of villages near Matiari and Jangipur. Matiari has been a brass works village for nearly a century. At one time, the villagers traveled to Calcutta to work in the brass works factories making items such as dishes, pots and kitchen utensils. Eventually the villagers lost their jobs in the city and subsequently started brass working businesses in their own homes. The village of Jangipur is home to a number of silk weavers, the fabric that is particularly prized in India as the material for sarees worn by brides and royalty.
The colonization of India by several different Western nations is evident in the towns of Barrackpore and Chandernagore. The French, Dutch, Danes and Portuguese all had a presence in the Western Bengal area before the British became the primary foreign occupants. The towns feature cemeteries, churches and museums that tell the stories of the Western influence over this region of India in the 1600s and 1700s.
The West Bengal region of India has played such an important role in the history of India that it’s a region that shouldn’t be missed. Seeing this county via an India River cruise is an ideal way to drink in the atmosphere of this colorful and fascinating land.