DHUBRI: Touted as the world’s longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, reached Assam on Friday, February 17, 2023, after passing through neighbouring Bangladesh.

On Friday morning at around 10:30 am, MV Ganga Vilas arrived at the zero point on the Indo-Bangladesh border. It then sailed a further 32 km to reach Dhubri port by 4 pm. Throughout its journey from the Zero point up to Pandu port, the cruise vessel is being escorted by the survey vessel SL Subansiri.

Union minister for ports, shipping & waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal termed the arrival of the Ganga Vilas cruise ship at Dhubri, as a “watershed moment” in the inland waterways transportation towards the transformation of the Northeast. 

Sonowal congratulated the people of Assam and the Northeast on the historic moment that has unlocked the huge potential of river tourism, allowing for trickle-down development for people across the banks of the Brahmaputra.

In his address, Sonowal said, “Today is a historic day for the people of Assam and the Northeast. Our endeavour towards reclaiming the glory of Assam’s trade and commerce has received a tremendous boost with the successful passage of Ganga Vilas.”

“We have a history of flourishing trade and commerce via inland waterways before the partition. As possibilities have turned into realities, the successful voyage of Ganga Vilas has opened up new possibilities, opportunities, and realities,” Sonowal added.

World’s longest river cruise ‘Ganga Vilas’ enters Assam

In his remarks, Sonowal expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated the people of Assam and the Northeast on the historic moment that would unlock the huge potential of river tourism and enable development for people across the banks of the Brahmaputra.

Sonowal described the successful passage of Ganga Vilas as a tremendous boost to Assam’s trade and commerce and noted that the voyage marked a new chapter of possibilities, opportunities, and realities for the state. He also praised the positive response of tourists onboard the ship as a testament to the bright prospects of river cruise tourism on the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.

Sonowal further reiterated the government’s commitment to reviving India’s river systems as a means of unlocking value and bringing development to the country’s interiors and expressed confidence that the inland water transportation sector would drive progress and development in the Northeast region.

The MV Ganga Vilas, which set sail from Varanasi on January 13 and traversed through several Indian states and Bangladesh, arrived at Dhubri in Assam after a 39-day voyage.

The Ganga Vilas is set to complete its journey on March 1 when it arrives at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh, concluding its 51-day cruise.

After reaching Dhubri, the ship was anchored on the Brahmaputra and the guests were taken via MV Pratima to the reach jetty at Dhubri Customs Port for immigration clearance. The 32 Swiss tourists on this landmark voyage were welcomed by the Dhubri deputy commissioner, along with the regional director of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and officials from the Inland Water Transport (IWT) and Tourism departments of the government.

The tourists were served refreshments and local delicacies, including tea – the state drink of Assam. Several Self Help Groups (SHGs) from the area put up stalls, showcasing local crafts such as products made of jute, terracotta artefacts, and Kuhila.

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During their stop in Dhubri, the tourists were entertained by a dance troupe performing the traditional Koch Rajbongshi dance while they enjoyed the scenic view of the Brahmaputra river.

They also had the opportunity to visit local cultural sites, experience the local crafts, and visit the famous Asarikandi village known for its terracotta artefacts.

A religious visit to Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib and the holy Peepal tree was also planned, as well as a visit to Victoria Park. The cruise ship, Ganga Vilas, will continue its journey from Dhubri to Goalpara on Saturday and is set to complete its 51-day cruise on March 1 when it anchors at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh.

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