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3 weeks ago

Discovering India on Uniworld’s Exclusive River Cruise

The luxury cruise line has developed a collection of India sailings to immerse guests in the nation's spiritual history.

By Becca Hensley

Perhaps we’ve all felt it: that nagging urge for change, redefinition, new pathways and deeper understandings. That’s when India calls. A vastly resplendent country, prodigiously textured, outrageously technicolored, spellbindingly ancient, ever welcoming and mysterious; it manages to be both a gloriously indulgent sensory overload and a calmingly clear connection to that proverbial search for the meaning of life.

If a quiet ashram — read: monastery — for the study of yoga, chakras and the centuries-old science of Ayurveda seems too extreme for your next transformational travel adventure, boutique Uniworld has something to suit. With the mission to navigate the complex country with clarity, Uniworld has developed a collection of India sailings to immerse guests in the nation’s heart-opening yoga and spiritual history while exploring a panoply of monuments, foods, sights and unique experiences.

Aboard Uniworld’s India river cruise, guests can take advantage of an exclusive wellness program that offers twice daily yoga classes with an onboard dedicated yogi, holistic living workshops, one-on-one meditation and yoga practices, and daily Indian-focused, educational seminars that unveil the mysteries of an alternative approach to well-being. All the while, guests will be visiting once-in-a-lifetime locales such as the Taj Mahal; staying in the country’s most luxurious hotel; relaxing in palatial staterooms during the sail; tasting the country’s tempting culinary offerings; and cruising on the sacred Ganges River past villages full of artisans schooled in techniques passed from generation to generation.

[See also: Jamshyd Sethna is Bringing the World to a Different India]

The Suite

maharaja suite uniworld river cruises
The Maharaja Suite features an opulent bathroom with a deep soaking tub / ©Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld has received many accolades for its boutique hotel-evoking ships, floating inns envisioned and designed to reflect the destination. Ganges Voyager II conjures elements of a Maharajah-era palace, its hand-painted murals, glittering bits of gold, sumptuous fabrics and white-gloved staff exuding regal appeal. Only 28 commodious suites compose the ship, with space for no more than 56 guests.

Each suite encompasses a stately sitting area, a French balcony with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a generous bathroom complete with a rain shower and high-end bath products. For the ultimate floating sanctuary, book the sumptuous Maharaja Suite, a 400-sq-ft haven featuring hand-carved furnishings, opulent Indian textiles and a deep soaking tub.

The Itinerary: India’s Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges

Ganges Voyager II, Uniworld River Cruise India
Ganges Voyager II / ©Uniworld River Cruises

This soulful 13-day expedition begins in New Delhi, part of the touristic circuit known as the Golden Triangle. The area, historically home to India’s princely rulers, also includes Jaipur (the Pink City) and Agra (anchored by the never-disappointing Taj Mahal). Choose the optional, pre-trip bookend stay in Rajasthan’s vibrant Udaipur, known as the City of the Lakes — today one of India’s top sites for elaborate weddings.

Led by exceptional guides, you’ll revel in a world of gem-colored saris, elephants, monkeys, quixotic markets, aromatic scents and historical forts. On day six, fly to Kolkata, board the Ganges Voyager II, and begin your sail on the Ganges. Along the way, the river’s banks teem with timeless vistas, each direction offering captivating scenes of life.

In Kalna, you’ll see Hindu temples; in Matiari, you’ll meet brass craftsmen; and in the Bengali towns of Murshidabad and Baranagar, you’ll ride in a horse-drawn buggy for an architecture tour. You’ll learn about the art of henna in Khusbagh and about the Hare Krishna movement in Mayapur, once a French colonial outpost. You’ll end officially in Kolkata, famous for its flower market — but we suggest you add on Uniworld’s extension to Varanasi, the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus of all ages and a soul-stirring city.

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Maharaja Suite from $11,999 per person on Uniworld’s India river cruise. Contact +1 818 382 7820, uniworld.com

[See also: The Best Galapagos Cruises for Intrepid Travelers]

This article appears in the 04 Mar 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Spring 2024

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