The 'Brahmaputra Cruises (Jungle Book Tour/India)' has been ranked sixth among the cruises including the Amazon, the Antartica, the North Pole, Australia and Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Managing Director of Assam Bengal Navigation Company, Ashish Phookan, told PTI.
Recalling that Assam Bengal Navigation Company, an Indo-British joint venture, had pioneered long-distance river cruising in India in 2003, he said the company completes ten years of cruising on Brahmaputra river on the 'ABN Charaidew' this year.
The Company also has 'Bengal Cruises' with their second boat 'ABN Sukapha' operating on the Hoogli river since 2007 and on the Ganges since 2010, Phookan said, adding, their third boat 'ABN Rajmahal' will commence commercial operation on the Ganges from February next year.
For this pioneering venture, the Assam Bengal Navigation, a sister concern of Jungle Travels India, was conferred the National Tourism Award by the Union Ministry of Tourism for 2004-2005, he said.
'Brahmaputra Cruises' feature visits and attractions such as wildlife viewing, both by jeep and on elephant back, village walks, visits to tea gardens, exploring towns in cycle rickshaws, barbecues on deserted river islands, dance performances and visits to archaeological sites, pilgrimage centres and craft workshops, Phookan said.
Wildlife and wilderness are the main features of the cruises in Assam on the vast Brahmaputra river. The river bed is often 20 or 30 km across - an empty world of sand spits and water with marvelous bird life and the occasional Gangetic Dolphin, he said.
The cruises also give access to a number of National Parks, including rhino habitat Kaziranga in upper Assam and The Project Tiger Reserve, Manas on the Indo-Bhutan border, besides Orang National Park across Darrang and Sonitpur districts, Phookan said.
"Between October and April, we offer a combination of 7-night, 10-night and 4-night cruises named after the Assam Despatch Service, the daily mail-cum-passenger service that once plied from Calcutta up the Brahmaputra to Dibrugarh in Assam," he said.
The Cable News Network in its website describes the 'Jungle Book Tour, India,' as "While the cruise aboard the delightfully anachronistic 24-person Charaidew trundles along from Guwahati to Tezpur, you can sip local tea and enjoy mild Assamese curries onboard. A visit to the UNESCO-listed Kaziranga National Park, for elephant, rhino and (maybe) tiger spotting, is one of the diversions en route".
"The Brahmaputra River begins in the glaciers of Tibet before winding through India and emptying, 2,900 kilometers later, into the Bay of Bengal", the website says.