When one thinks about short, inter-city river cruises in India, the pictures of the beautiful Alleppey backwaters quickly comes to mind. But what if we tell you that there is an equally mesmerizing experience waiting for you in Guwahati! You would be startled right? Usual tourist places in Guwahati, for any travel enthusiast encircle around the Kaziranga National Park or the Kamakhya Devi Temple. But Guwahati tourism has a new crowd puller up its pockets now. And it is named the Brahmaputra river cruises.
Brahmaputra is the lifeline of Assam. This mighty river, which originates in Tibet, journeys hundreds of miles before reaching into Assam. Literally meaning “the son of Brahma”, Brahmaputra is ever present in the lives of the Assamese folk. The waters of Brahmaputra are used to cultivate fields, run many hydel power projects, for daily chores and now it has also become an avenue to promote Guwahati tourism as well.
The Amazing Brahmaputra River cruise experience
Brahmaputra cruises typically begin from Guwahati and end at the fast growing town of Jorhat. Along the cruise, tourists are taken through various historic palaces, forts, wildlife sanctuary and temples. The Brahmaputra river cruises also offer a mesmerizing peep into the lives of tribal villagers and their customs. Your boat would pass through the world-famous tea plantations of Assam and the wilderness of the Kaziranga National Park. And if you are lucky you could catch a glimpse of a tiger, rhino or elephant quenching its thirst on the sweet waters of Brahmaputra!
There are different types of cruise ships available for your trip. The trip duration (ranging between 3-7 days) and amenities on-board vary as per the tariffs of the river cruise in Guwahati. However, a cruise ship is self-sufficient in terms of infrastructure and usually hosts a restaurant, a bar, a deck with live music band performances, single and double rooms, a pool area, games room etc. Brahmaputra river cruises can now be booked online and there are many reputed tour operators providing such unique tours. Though, booking the tour in advance is always recommended.
- Best time for Cruise: Months between November to April are ideal.
- Cruise itinerary: Standard cruises span from 2 days and 3 nights to a week. One can also book a day-long cruise.
- Standard route: Guwahati to Jorhat
- Must taste onboard: During your cruise do taste the traditional Assamese delicacies such as fresh water fish preparation with rice and sweets made of Jaggery.
- Average costs: The cost of cruise varies as per the tour operator as well as time spent on deck. A day-long cruise can cost INR 450-4,000 on a luxury ship. A week-long luxury Brahmaputra cruise can cost INR 1, 20,000-1, 90,000.
Tourist attractions you would come across
Unlike most other tours, Brahmaputra river cruises are not about reaching the destination. They are rather about enjoying each moment on the deck of a ship. But while floating along the mighty Brahmaputra River, you would come across many of Assam tourist places, here are some of them.
Silghat is famous for its tea plantations and produces a large quantity of the refreshing Assam tea. The ship would halt at Silghat after crossing Tezpur. The travelers can get down and take a tour of the tea gardens. They can have the best Assam tea during their tea sessions. Special tours intimate the tourists about every step of the tea making process from the picking of perfect leaves to their processing in the factory.
Kaziranga National Park
The beautiful landscapes of Kaziranga National Park are an undisputed highlight of the journey. Famed for its high population of one-horned rhinos and elephant herds, this famous national park lies on the banks of the Brahmaputra and would come up during your trip. As the banks of the river start getting a green cover, stay aware for you are about to enter the forests of Kaziranga. And who knows you might be lucky enough to see some Bisons, rhinos or a tiger from the ship’s deck itself! Otherwise you can always feast your eyes at the sight of beautiful birds such as green-billed Malkoha, blue throated Barbet and red collared Doves. The shores of Brahmaputra, near Kaziranga National Park, are often decorated with colorful water lilies and orchids. You can get down from the ship at the designated stop and hop into a jeep to complete your Kaziranga tour.
Along the route, the cruise ship would also pass ancient city of Sibsagar. Sibsagar means “Ocean of Lord Shiva” and used to be a stronghold of the Ahom tribes, who settled in Assam from China in the 12-13th century. Sibsagar has ancient Hindu and Ahom temples that are famous for exquisite carvings.
Up next is the world’s largest river island! Yes, Majuli is the place that is being referred to here. This unique island has been a part of Assam’s rich culture and heritage for over 400 years and has a number of monasteries called the Satras. A stopover at these Satras would allow you to enjoy the traditional dance accompanied with beating drums, known as Matia Khora. This is a part of devotion to Lord Krishna. Majuli Island is also home to the shy Mising tribe and they have a unique way of life.
Along the entire cruise route the tourists can explore many local villages that are a treasure trove of Assam’s heritage. Most of the villagers live in stilted houses to protect themselves against the floods during the monsoon. The small villages along the banks of the Brahmaputra are popular for their silk clothes and products. You can purchase plenty of souvenirs at cheap rates from these villages.
So, when are you taking a trip along the waters of Brahmaputra?