Varanasi, Kolkata and the Ganges Tours
On the banks of the holy Ganges, Varanasi is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims. Capital of India in the days of the British Raj, Kolkata sits on a river fed by the Ganges.
Life in colourful, chaotic Varanasi centers on the sacred Ganges River, with narrow, winding lanes leading down to waterfront ghats where pilgrims bathe and the dead receive their last rites. On the banks of the Hooghly River, thriving Kolkata is still India’s centre for culture and learning, and remains rich in colonial architecture.
The Ganges, or Ganga River is considered sacred by millions of Hindus. According to ancient religious texts, the river sprung from the hair of Lord Shiva, and for centuries thousands of pilgrims have flocked to bathe in its holy waters, or immerse the ashes of their loved ones. This mighty river rises in the Himalayas and flows westwards across India and then southwards to Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal, supporting agriculture, industry and wildlife.
One of the holiest places on the Ganges is the fascinating city of Varanasi, famous for its riverside ghats, where the faithful come to bathe or light candles for their dead. The bustling port city of Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, is on the Ganges Delta, and has many fine mosques, temples and universities.
The best way to discover life on the Ganges is in the laneways and along the ghats of Varanasi, or by riverboat between Varanasi and Kolkata. Our boutique riverboat takes you slowly down the Ganges in comfort and with plenty of time to take in the sights along this venerated waterway.
To find out more about our range of Varanasi, Kolkata and Ganges River programs, please download the pages below.
Varanasi, Kolkata and the Ganges
Perhaps best known for its turbulent political history, Kolkata has also long been a centre for culture and learning, with wonderful mosques, temples, universities and museums.
Varanasi, ‘City of Temples’
Varanasi is situated on the banks of the Ganges River. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and the ultimate destination for Hindus.
Temples of Khajuraho
Dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism, all three groups of Khajuraho are World Heritage Sites for their magnificent architecture as well as their fascinating, finely worked sculptures.
Ganges River Cruising
Forget long drives and dusty roads as you drift down the sacred River Ganges past ancient temples and the colourful panorama of rural Indian life.
Below are a selection of our preferred hotels in Varanasi and Kolkata. Please contact us to tailor accommodation options to suit the style of your trip and your budget.
Varanasi's Brijrama Palace occupies a majestic former royal residence with an enviable location on historic Darbanga Ghat, next to the holy Ganges River.
The Taj Bengal is located in the exclusive suburb of Alipore, with Kolkata landmarks including the Victoria Memorial within easy striking distance.
Taj Nadesar Palace
Taj Nadesar Palace nestles on 28 acres of lush gardens and fragrant orchards close to the sacred waters of the River Ganges in ancient Varanasi.
The Gateway Hotel Ganges
The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasi is a comfortable, tasteful hotel and an ideal base from which to explore the ancient holy city of Varanasi.
The Oberoi Grand
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata occupies a gracious early 19th century building with a prime location close to the elegant Victoria Memorial.
The Park Hotel
Designed by esteemed UK-based architects Conran and Partners, The Park Hotel, Kolkata is an avant-garde design hotel in downtown Kolkata.
The following tours are private, independent and can be easily customised to suit your personal travelling requirements. Please contact us to begin designing your personalised India experience.
This relaxed cruise explores Kerala in south India, a tranquil region characterised by spice plantations, beautiful beaches and languid backwaters.
This classical India itinerary combines Mughal treasures such as the Taj Mahal with the royal architecture of Rajasthan’s most famous cities.
This classic Golden Triangle India Tour takes in the architectural treasures of Delhi, Jaipur and of course, Agra's magnificent Taj Mahal.
This tour combines the holy Sikh city of Amritsar with beautiful hilltop towns including McLeod Ganj, present home of the Dalai Lama.
Icons of India
Uncover the crown jewel of India’s natural heritage - the royal Bengal tiger - along with the most famous sights of the Golden Triangle.
Palaces and Forts of Rajasthan
Visit the glorious Taj Mahal before touring Rajasthan with its royal palaces, walled cities, medieval fortresses and fascinating temples.
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Varanasi, Kolkata and the Ganges Overview
Why Varanasi, Kolkata & The Ganges: The Ganges River and historic cities like Varanasi lie at the heart of Hindu religion and culture. Explore the temples, laneways, markets, riverbanks and ghats, which offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient living history.
When to Go: October to March is the best time to visit when the days are drier and clearer, and temperatures mild.
Combine With: The Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal) and Jaipur (Rajasthan), or the tiger parks of Bandhavgarh and Kanha.
Getting There: Varanasi, Kolkata and Khajuraho can be reached by air, train or road.