As I was sitting on the top deck, the cool wind gently brushed against my face, reminding me what a great decision I had made by booking a cruise trip with RV Bengal Ganga. I am a frequent traveler and was looking forward to a cruise trip but honestly, this particular cruise exceeded all my expectations. Since this was a new endeavour, at first I was a little skeptical about the experiences that I would be offered with. But, since my first entry into the cruise, I knew I had made a great decision.
As soon as I boarded, I received a very warm welcome. I was escorted to my room and as I entered, I couldn’t help but gape wide. The room was nothing short of regal. The whole setup was too gorgeous! The royal décor, the huge bed and the super chic washroom made the beginning of the trip just right. Plus, I had all the modern facilities at my disposal right from my room.
The cruise trip was over duration of 11 days and we were travelling from Kolkata, India to Dhaka, Bangladesh. As all of us know, before the division of Bengal, both of these cities were one in spirit. Post partition, things have changed. Although there exists a 90% cultural similarity, their present existence in two different countries have brought about few significant differences. May be this exploration is the motto of this entire voyage from India to Bangladesh.
After all the documentation work and boarding the cruise, I was famished. My second stop in the cruise was the dining area. The famished me hurled through the menu, ordered and waited patiently for my food.As I took the first bite into it, I felt home. The Bengali cuisine was cooked to perfection and the steamed hilsa just aromatized the entire place. The fluffy rice was the show stopper. After a wholesome lunch, I went up on the dock to enjoy the warmth on the sun and then the soft touch of lights in dusk.
Day 2 was an early morning; the cruise sailed towards the Bhagwatpur crocodile project. Seeing the crocodiles in their natural habitat was thrilling. The place showed intricate details about the reptile, starting from their lifestyle to their breeding. At night we were docked at SajinaKhali.
The cruise along with the entire party, on the 3rd day, set sail for Bidya Forest/ Bali (located very close to the Tiger Reserve of Indian part of Sundarban). We had the opportunity of tasting rural life here, as the crew walked into the nearest village, exploring their culture, livelihood and lifestyle.
The fourth day was all about surprises. On our visit to Karamjol forests, I witnessed the traditional method of fishing with trained otters. Furthermore, I come across Gangetic Dolphins, and a few other wildlife species as the crew explored the area more. In the evening, a dancing group performed “Poter Gaan”, on the sundeck for the tourists.
On day 5, it was time for some history and architecture. Early in the morning, the cruise set sail for Bagerhat. We went for a guided sight-seeing to Mosque city of Bagerhat, Tomb of Khan Jahan Ali and Single Dome mosque, sixty dome mosque, nine dome mosque, Bagerhat Museum and the local fish market, one by one.
The sixth day was a tour to the Kaukhali village. The visit to the ‘Kumar Pada’ (Sonakpur Potter village) to learn about the different types of ancient and traditional pottery was fascinating and educational. Seeing artisans work on clay to transform it to pieces of art was inspiring too. Post the visit, we were taken to Vaishnavite temple, the nearby Hindu cremation ground and Oxford Missionary Church where we learned more about culture and lifestyle.
On day 7, I was there in the Swaroop Kathi floating market, at Nasirabad float market. Swaroop Kathi Market is based on a water body where vendors perform their trade on boats. The market sells all kinds of products needed for a household, especially food items. This market, I tell you, is a must visit!
Day 8 was dedicated to temples and spirituality. After the cruise anchored in Chandpur, we visited few popular spiritual abodes such as Kali Temple, Harisabha Temple and Madan Mohan Jiu Temple. The tourists also take a tour to the nearby markets, and one of the market was economically very important to Bangladesh as this was the Home to the Hilsa. In the evening, the performance of Bangladeshi folk dance was organized on the sun-deck of the cruise.
On the 9th Day, we had visited the Baradi Ashram, founded by Baba Lokenath, then paid visit to the Goaldi Mosque, which has stood the test of time, being the witness to the time-lapse between these years. Dating back to the reign Aurangzeb, this mosque, a specimen of beautiful Mughal architecture, is one of the few structures left in Sonargaon, from the sultanate period.
Then we had a chance to visit the Panam City, abandoned in the fifties by the Rich Merchants when the riots broke out in this area. From Neo Gothic to Art Nouveau, almost all the western architectural designs were deployed in these abandoned buildings. This is a must visit.
The next day, I also visited Dhakeshwari Temple, commonly known as the “national temple of Bangladesh”. Along with the structural facts, I came across an interesting mythological legend. It is believed that the gem of Sati’s crown fell in this place. Thus, this temple is also a major pilgrimage for Hindus.
On the banks of Buriganga river, Ahsan Manzil Palace was the official residence and working place of the Nawab of Dhaka. The perfection to which this Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture is built simply spellbound me!The intricate details and the artistic genius are unbelievable! I really regretted not visiting Bangladesh all this while! At the moment, this palace works as the national museum.
The Curzon Hall of Dhaka University is a Historic Place I would say. The process of second Partition of Bangladesh began here in 1948 when Pakistan declared Urdu as the National Language of Pakistan and the Bengali Students here in the Curzon Hall openly challenged the statecraft by protesting it.