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Pandaw will debut on India’s Lower Ganges River aboard the stately Orient Pandaw in time for Christmas.

The seven-night Lower Ganges sailing from Kolkata to Farraka and vice versa will launch on 23 December, and offer weekly departures until April next year. It will recommence in July 2019 to April 2020.

“There’s no river in the world as sacred as The Ganges and an expedition on the Lower Ganges (or Hooghly) is one of the most picturesque journeys imaginable,’’ said Pandaw founder Paul Strachan.

“The river wends its way through the lush countryside of West Bengal with its culturally significant towns crammed with temples and palaces….Adding India to our portfolio of exotic destinations is an important milestone.”

The Orient Pandaw is the pride of the Pandaw fleet with 30 staterooms on two decks. All cabins have verandahs. Other facilities include indoor dining, a deck bar, a movie theatre and a spa.

Highlights of the itinerary include cruising by the Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore, guests will also visit Dupleix’s House of the former governor-general of French India, take a cycle rickshaw to see Bengal’s terracotta temples, stop by a brass-making village in Matiari and watch the primitive process of beating out brass water pots, take a morning walk to Khushbagh, a peaceful Mughal-style garden and visit the great Hazarduari Palace built by an English architect in 1837.

On the last day of the cruise, the Orient Pandaw will moor by the Farakka lock and guests will go on a full-day excursion by road to Gaur or the English Bazar.

Prices on the Lower Ganges itinerary start from US$1890 pp twin share and will include all transfers, excursions, main meals, local beer, mineral water and crew gratuities. International flights are additional. www.pandaw.com