World’s ‘longest river cruise’ Ganga Vilas flagged off in India

India’s PM Narendra Modi, flagged off MV Ganga Vilas, the “world’s longest river cruise,” through video conferencing, and launched multiple other development projects in the city of Varanasi.

Calling it an “amalgam” of the modern and the ancient, he added that the voyage which will last 51 days and cost Rs 20 lakhs ($24600) per person- would provide visitors from around the globe with new vistas.

River cruising offers a way to reach more remote locations without a large airport or freeway access, and it can also bring much-needed tourism income to those communities.

The cruise will put various tourist spots on the map of the world and provide tourists with an unparalleled experience of the food, culture, religious diversity, and natural resources of the country, PM Modi said in the function that was addressed virtually. 

“This cruise will help everyone to experience everything right from treasuring spirituality, enjoying tourism and understanding the system of rivers in India,” stated Prime Minister.

The Union Minister for Port Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, also stated in a tweet that “the MV Ganga Vilas is not only the world’s longest river cruise, it is also the epitome of world-class facilities and comfort.”

Addressing the foreign tourists, the PM said: “India has everything that you can imagine. It has a lot beyond your imagination. India cannot be defined in words. It can only be experienced from the heart.” 

The Prime Minister also inaugurated a ‘Tent City’, developed on the lines of similar setups in Gujarat’s Kutch and Rajasthan, on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi.

The first-ever cruise vessel to be made in India

The much-anticipated cruise ship, MV Ganga Vilas, is set to travel 3,200 kilometers between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh, passing through 27 major river systems and 50 tourist spots, including major towns like Patna in Bihar, Shahiganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Guwahati in Assam, as well as global heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and national parks, said Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Jaiveer Singh.

The 32 tourists from Switzerland, who will take the first journey, were welcomed at the Varanasi port with garlands and tunes of shehnai. They will visit various religious and historical places in Varanasi before setting out on the cruise.

The MV Ganga Vilas has 18 suites and can accommodate 36 tourists, plus 40 crew personnel, said the director of the ship, Raj Singh.

Additionally, the trip is equipped with amenities like a gym, spa, and salon. He estimated that each passenger’s expenditure for the 51-day trip would be around $300 (₹ 25,000.) The cruise is also outfitted with noise-cancellation equipment and a pollution-free system.

The cruise director also mentioned the sewage treatment plant on the ship that prevents sewage from entering the Ganga and a filtering plant to clean the Ganga water for bathing and other uses.

According to PM Modi, this cruise will open the door for further similar cruises in the luxury and budget categories. He also emphasized that encouraging water transportation is necessary since it will help the economy and create new job opportunities in the hinterland.

While this initiative has been celebrated by many officials on Twitter and other platforms, it has also drawn criticism from different groups, like Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. 

In a tweet, he stated, “Now will the BJP take away the jobs of the sailors as well? BJP’s policy of earning money by making religious places tourist sites is condemnable. People from all over the world come to experience the spiritual splendour of Kashi, not for luxury. BJP will no longer be able to cover the darkness of real issues with external glare.” 


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