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PM inaugurates Tent City for tourists in Varanasi, flags off Ganga Vilas cruise

PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off India-made luxury boat MV Ganga Vilas on the world’s longest river cruise and inaugurated the Tent City built for tourists on the banks of River Ganga in Varanasi via video conferencing.

The Tent City has been developed on the lines of similar arrangements in Gujarat’s Kutch and Rajasthan. Over 200 tents will offer tourists a panoramic view of the famed ghats of the holy city on the other side of the river along with live classical music, ‘aarti’ in the evening, and yoga sessions. The tent city will be operational from October to June every year and will be dismantled for three months due to rise in river water level in the rainy season.

The Prime Minister also laid the foundation for several inland waterways projects, worth over Rs 1,000 crore.

The MV Ganga Vilas luxury cruise will travel 3,200 km in 51 days from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh . The 32 tourists from Switzerland, who will take the first journey, were welcomed at the Varanasi port with garlands and tunes of shehnai.

The cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Guwahati in Assam.

The MV Ganga Vilas is five-star moving hotel which has 18 suites with the capacity for 36 tourists. Apart from this, it has accommodation for 40 crew members. The luxury ship is 62 meters in length and 12 metres wide.  It requires a draft of 1.4 metres, cruise director Raj Singh said.

There is a Sewage Treatment Plant on this cruise ship so that no sewage flows into the Ganga, as well as a filtration plant which purifies the river water for bathing and other purposes, he added.

The itinerary of MV Ganga Vilas has been curated to showcase the rich heritage of India with stopovers in spots of historical, cultural and religious importance.

The cruise has also been fitted with facilities such as spa, salon, and gym. It will cost Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 a day, with the total cost for the 51-day journey totalling to around Rs 20 lakh for each passenger, Raj Singh said.

From the famous “Ganga Arti” in Varanasi, it will stop at Sarnath, a place of great reverence for Buddhism. It will also cover Mayong, known for its Tantric craft, and Majuli, the largest river island and hub of Vaishnavite culture in Assam.

The travellers will also visit the Bihar School of Yoga and Vikramshila University, allowing them to soak in the rich Indian heritage in spirituality and knowledge.

The cruise will also traverse through the biodiversity-rich World Heritage Sites of Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal delta, famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, as well as Kaziranga National Park, famous for one horn rhino.