A Cruise Through History Along the Hooghly River

17 - 28 Mar 2020
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

The Hooghly River is the main artery running through the history of Bengal. Bengal was the richest province in India for a time, its lush soil producing indigo, opium and rice crops and its exquisite textiles were known as ‘woven wind’. This progressive, wealthy and cultured land drew people from all over the world - Islam, Hinduism, Jainism and Christianity all flourished here. The long history of this province leaves a legacy of magnificent temples, buildings and parks. Tour leaders John and Susi Richardson will share their wide knowledge and personal family connections with India during the tour.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, John and Susi Richardson

John and Susi Richardson

Professor John Richardson is Emeritus Defence Professor of Primary Care and General Practice. He has led study tours worldwide and was a medical escort to parties of veterans on journeys of remembrance for the Royal British Legion. He has also run many history of medicine battlefield tours. He has visited 80 countries and worked in 41 of them as a doctor. John has previously led tours for Jon Baines to China, Central Asia, India, Turkey, Central America, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Namibia, Ethiopia, Indo-China and Burma. He has also given lectures and led on cruises. 

Susi Richardson has travelled widely across the world either as an expedition nurse, or as a nurse on war grave pilgrimages for the Royal British Legion, co-tour leader for Jon Baines Tours, or accompanying her husband on his British Army medical officer postings. Five generations of her Shakespear family served in India on her grandmother’s side, and three generations of Cooke family on her grandfather’s side, covering almost continuously two hundred years of the history of British India in a variety of roles and occupations. Susi has led a number of tours to India, in Vietnam and on cruises.

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  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • 17 Mar (Tues) Kolkata: Arrive and transfer to the Oberoi Grand Hotel and at leisure. Optional stroll along the Colonnade to the Park Street Oxford Bookstore and to visit the Museum of India.
  • 18 Mar (Wed) Kolkata: Optional early morning sightseeing walk through old Kolkata, including the Writer’s Building. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Visit the Victoria Memorial and the Maidan. Visit the Anglican Cathedral, Park Street Cemetery, Mother Theresa Museum, the office of Warren Hastings and St John’s Church, where Susi Richardson’s family held four weddings. Susi Richardson will talk on the early history of Kolkata and on the Thackeray and Shakespear families. Welcome dinner.
  • 19 Mar (Thurs) Kolkata: Drive to Prinsep’s Steps to board boat for river trip through the city. Susi Richardson will talk on later generations of Thackerays & Shakespears in India. Visit a pottery village and a jute factory. Optional 'Behind the Scenes at the Kolkata Oberoi Hotel' tour. Dinner at Zaranj.
  • 20 Mar (Fri) Kolkata / Cruising: At leisure with late morning transfer to the river. Embark on the ABN Sukapha and sail up past the old Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore. Take a walk through the cantonment. Talk: “The Great Uprising” by John Richardson (JR)
  • 21 Mar (Sat) Cruising: Sail up to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950, and visit the 18th century church and Dupleix’s house. Talk: “HMS Shannon and the Great Uprising” by JR. Sail on past the old Dutch settlement of Chinsura and visit the imposing Imambara.
  • 22 Mar (Sun) Cruising: Disembark at Kalna and take cycle rickshaws to see some of Bengal’s distinctive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temples. Talk: "The Battle of Plassey" by JR. Continue on through the countryside to Mayapur, its skyline dominated by the vast ISKCON temple. Sail on through the night to a mooring near Matiari. Pre-dinner Talk: “The Battle of Plassey” JR
  • 23 Mar (Mon) Cruising: Visit the brassworking village of Matiari. Cruise to the battlefield of Plassey, where Clive’s victory in 1757 changed the course of Indian history. Evening discussion about William Dalrymple’s book, “The White Moghuls”
  • 24 Mar (Tues) Cruising: Disembark and walk to the Khushbagh, a peaceful Moghul-style garden. Continue to the great Hazarduari Palace and view its extensive collections. Visit the great Katra Mosque and visit the 18thcentury Nashipara Palace and the Katgola Palace. Talk: “The Wolf Boys” by JR
  • 25 Mar (Wed) Cruising: Moor at Baranagar and walk through fields to three elegant miniature terracotta temples. Continue up a scenic stretch of the Hooghly to a mooring close to the Farakka Barrage.
  • 26 Mar (Thurs) Cruising: Disembark for full day excursion to Gaur, near the town of Malda, once one of India’s great cities with many remains of mosques, palaces and gateways. Rejoin the ship in the evening.
  • 27 Mar (Fri) Cruising / Kolkata: Take the train to Kolkata and check into the Oberoi Grand Hotel. At leisure in the afternoon until a farewell dinner in the evening.
  • 28 Mar (Sat) Kolkata: Transfer to the airport or extend at the Oberoi Grand Hotel

Tour cost

Ground only price excluding international flights and transfers: $4,855

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