Ganges River Cruise: Friend of All That Lives

Ganges Tour Overview

Young boy on the Ganges at Mayapur

“Friend and benefactor of all that lives.” The Ganges winds its way through the hills and plains of northern India and through the lives of all those who have sought purification, protection, and fortune from this mighty river. We will be modern-day seekers on the Ganges, exploring the sacred and secular history of the river and learning how the Ganges continues to shape life in India.

We have exclusively chartered the 28-cabin R/V Bengal Ganga for this special voyage. Based on teak 19th-century steamers, the river cruiser offers atmosphere and comfort in equal measure. Over eight leisurely days we will immerse ourselves in the diverse architecture, historical narratives, religious beliefs and cultural traditions of West Bengal.

Ram Chandraji temple, Guptipara

We begin our adventure on land with four days in Kolkata, India’s artistic and intellectual capital, and delve into the works of author Rabindranath Tagore and filmmaker Satyajit Ray, hugely influential forces in modern Bengali and world culture. Embark our river cruise of the Hooghly, one of the Ganges’ most important tributaries and for centuries an economic and cultural crossroads. Each day we’ll be ashore visiting Bengali temples, known for their terra cotta work, and vestiges of India’s complex colonial past. On board, we’ll continue our reading and discussion of contemporary literature. And along the way, enjoy plenty of Bengali delicacies—the cuisine is known for its sweets, abundance of fish, and use of mustard oil.

This is an experience for the culturally curious and for adventurous travellers who relish discovery. This voyage combines hallmarks of Classical Pursuits—slow travel and learning in community—with an experience of the Ganges river that is beguiling, infinite, and profound.

One of Kolkata’s many bookshops

Image credits: Tile on main travel page: Hooghly river (Ganges tributary), Shuma Talukda on Wikipedia; a boy on a boat on the Ganges, Braja Sorensen on Wikipedia; Ram Chadraji temple, SuvadipSanyal on Wikipedia; boy reading in shop, Biswarup Ganguly on Wikipedia


Get a detailed itinerary

West Bengal, India

October 2025; dates TBA


Hooghly, by Robert Ivermee
Excerpts from the Puranas
Selected works by Rabindranath Tagore
Contemporary Bengali fiction

Melanie Blake is the executive director of Classical Pursuits and organizer of the annual Toronto Pursuits cultural salon. She has travelled extensively in India while working as an editor in New Delhi, and especially enjoyed trips to Kolkata to browse the College Street book market and savour a fish curry. She looks forward to exploring the region's cross-cultural literature and history with you.

Lalit Hotel, Kolkata and the R/V Bengal Ganga

12 to 16 participants

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

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