15 Best River Cruises in India

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The prominence of rivers in the existential map of India has always been very visible. To start with, the name ‘Hindustan’ by itself means the land of Indus river. Thus came the Hindus and therefore the derivation of the name India. We as people have so much respect for rivers, that for purification- we use the Gangaajal- the water of the holy Ganges. Pan India, rivers are seen as the initial historical source of livelihood and establishment of civilizations. Each river, each tributary even the distributaries in fact have a number of local and national folklores associated with them. In a nutshell, there is so much and so many ways to explore the amazing rivers of India. One of our favorite ways though is cruising along the rivers on luxury cruises as well as heritage cruises. Imagine the coming together of history along with perks of nature- this is exactly what river cruises in India offers to you.

Here are 15 the best cruises in India that offer you a completely different kind of an experience the perfect Indian way

1. Ganges River Cruise

Source - Photo by Yolanda / CC0

It’s just a religious tendency. You start a pooja with Ganpati, so you start the list with the auspicious name of Ganga. The interesting history of this river and our faith in Ganga is as deep as the river itself. Although, it is known to belong to Gods and is the place of ghats, another interesting way to see everything that it has to offer to you is to either take the heritage tour or luxury tour. There are plenty of operators providing both. This one cruise is sure to make even your great grandma happy and even your little son jump with joy! 

2. Hugli River Cruise

Source- Photo by Aryan Paswan / CC BY-SA 3.0 

This one is comparatively new and started with an Indo-british joint venture known as Assam- Bengal navigation. It is basically a combined cruise of Ganges and Hugli river which starts with Kolkata and takes you through villages, temples, beautiful towns and quaint lands which are lesser known. The best part is that you also get to cycle, take a mini bus and basically have a completely culturally enriching experience. 

3. Kerala Backwaters

source - Photo by Challiyan / CC BY 3.0

I know no description is enough to describe this experience. The houseboats are so amazing, that people seldom want to come back home. The truth is, that the backwaters offer you an unparalleled serenity. Each view is like an essential stroke of a painting, without which the overall experience is incomplete. So take your mind’s canvas and paint it with the beautiful colors and effects of the quintessential Kerala backwaters experience. 

4. Sundarbans River Cruise

source- Photo by Joisey Showaa/ CC BY SA 2.0

Imagine exploring the amazing tiger river mangrove forest and also having a river run along the entire setting. Who said river cruises are only luxurious? In India, cruises are also for the adventurous- Sunderbans being our case in point. So what are you waiting for? Cruise your way through the unseen creeks, amazing sands and greenery that is sure to blow your mind off. 

5. Donga Cruises (Dal Lake)

source - Photo by Basharat Alam Shah / CC BY 2.0

This is a lesser known and a recently revived formula. Donga cruises used to be a part of the Kashmiri heritage but for some reason were discontinued. In the last few years, when Kashmir was on a mission to revive tourism, they also revived the Donga cruises for providing people a better way to cruise along Dal and see the ethereal beauty around. So while Shikaras and houseboats are experiences you must have, do not forget to spend your evenings exploring the mesmerizing beauty of Dal Lake on a cruise. Kashmir is a honeymooners paradise. Don't forget to read these honeymoon cruise tips before you choose Donga Cruises.

6. Chilika Lake Cruise

source- Photo by Krupasindhu Muduli / CC BY SA 3.0

Chilika Lake cruise is definitely one of the most underrated activities in India. It is such an amazing experience because you not only witness the setting sun and the magic of skies paired up with the spread beauty of this lake but also come across a magical vibe of India that the urban lifestyle is oblivious to! This one is definitely our recommendation. Remember to see dolphins along your way! 

7. Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves

source - Photo by Rhaessner / CC BY SA 3.0

This is not so much of a river cruise, but it is a beautiful ride along the sea all the same. You are sure to visit this area once you are in Mumbai. Once you enter the gateway of India, you can take one of the many rides to Elephanta caves. Here, a walk along the caves offers you such an amazing experience. Also, you will see a lot of ships of the olden times on your journey to the caves. Do not forget to buy a lot of imli, kairi and kamrakh once you get there. Those little joys of life are very difficult to find everywhere. Cruises from Mumbai to Goa are popular as well.

8. Brahmaputra river cruises

source - Photo by Deepraj / CC BY 2.5

Brahmaputra cruises dominantly make you explore Assam. The river is so beautiful and its surroundings are even better. It’s literally the stuff you see in movies. Some of the cruises also offer you rides on elephant backs. It’s a great way to explore villages in cycle rickshaws, visiting towns that maybe you’ve just never thought of seeing. This one is a complete surprise package and is definitely one of the best ones! 

9. Dibru Saikhowa River Cruise

While we are mentioning a cruise that takes you around the villages and city life of Assam, this one offers a completely different experience in the same state. Dibru Saikhowa river cruise is more of a conversation with nature. It is like exploring flora and fauna and making a connect with nature. This untapped part of the country is really beautiful and you should definitely discover Assam beyond Guwahati as well. 

10. Mangalore Cruise

source - Photo by Premkudva / CC BY SA 3.0

Mangalore Cruises are an amalgamation of various activities. Although, Mangalore is an underrated tourist destination, the luxury cruises here are quite a hit with tourists. The cruises here not only offer you a breath-taking view of the sea but also take you through the jungles. You can enjoy luxury, sea views and wilderness at the same time. This is definitely one of the best picks in the south.

11. Goa River Cruises

Goa River Cruises are amazing. There is no doubt about it. They are the most known cruises in the country. You have a great time sipping on to beer, having a sumptuous buffet and in general having the time of your life. But, I think that is the description you read for everything that is associated with Goa. Although, it is completely and truly honest. For a cruise, where you just want to simply let go in the midst of the sea, this is definitely the best pick.

12. Andaman Islands

source - Photo by Venkatesh K / CC BY 2.0

This river cruise in India is just perfect for anybody planning to marvel the beauty of a water body at its best. If you are looking at just being bowled over by mesmerizing nature around you,then Andaman Islands is definitely a cruise you should visit. Imagine exploring one of the most beautiful destinations of the World with luxury all around you!  We have included it in our next itinerary, what about you? 

13. Godavari River Journey

source - Photo by Anupam Pandey / CC BY SA 3.0  

This one is a diesel motor cruise covering roughly a 100 kilometers along Andhra Pradesh. It starts from Rajahmundry and goes all the way up to Sriramagiri or Kunavaram. Godavari starts in Trimbakeshwar- hence its religious importance is not a surprise. This cruise takes you along to the best of temples along the Godavari river. It’s duration is roughly of 12 hours, but those 12 hours are completely worth it! 

14. Golden Triangle Tour

source - Photo by Aman Deshmukh

We started with ‘Ganga maiyya’ and we are nearing the end with her too. This tour starts from Delhi and takes you around Agra, on a private tour of Taj Mahal. Then you proceed to Jaipur, then to Calcutta then to Calcutta, Kalna and a lot of other places. 7 full days of exploring the lower Ganges along with having a heritage tour of all the historically rich cities of the country is a chance you should actually be grabbing with both hands!

15. Lakshadweep Islands tour

source - Photo by Manvendra Bhangui / CC BY SA 2.0

Lakshadweep Islands Tour is another cruise that you should definitely take. The 5 day tour takes you through the islands of Kavaratti and you can come face to face with a large variety of flora and fauna here. The beautiful white sands and crystal clear blue waters is all you need for a perfect cruise along these amazing islands! 

This was our list of Indian Cruises that we want to go to? Any other that you have been on? We would love to know about your experience.

*Some images are used only for representational purposes.

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