Cruising Down the Brahmaputra River

Rachel Wright, proprietor of Cruise Select in Bedford, spent 8 days cruising aboard the M.V. Mahabaahu down the Brahmaputra River. Here she shares her account of this once in a lifetime, spectacular cruise…

The Brahmaputra River, also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is one of the major rivers of Asia. Geologically, it is the youngest among the major rivers in the world yet it is known as a moving ocean. The river Brahmaputra travels 2880 km from its origin in the young Himalayan range through the Tibet and India and finally merges with the sea in Bangladesh by opening its streams like the roots of a large Banyan tree. While most rivers on the Indian subcontinent have female names, this river has a rare male name, as it means “son of Brahma” in Sanskrit (putra means “son”).

Upon arrival, a warm welcome was received as we embarked the M.V. Mahabaahu. The following day brought a visit to Sivasagar to visit the old Palace, Talatal-Ghar and the Shiva Temple. A short drive arrived at Rang Ghar; a place for royal members and dignitaries to watch and enjoy outdoor games and finally, to the Sivadol where we had an incredible view of the Sivasagar tank; the largest man-made lake in India.

The Brahmaputra has both the world’s largest and smallest inhabited islands and the larger island of Majuli is only accessible by local ferries, small boats and of course, the M.V. Mahabaahu. Upon reaching Majuli, we travelled by Jeep to a village temple near Garamur Satra before heading down to the riverbanks to watch local performers entertain before visiting the fascinating Kamalabari Satra; a religious centre dating back to 1673.

Due to the ever-changing landscape and receding riverbanks, there is no guarantee where the M.V. Mahabaahu will be able to moor, so the fourth day saw us arrive at a Mishing tribal village. It transpired that the ship had never visited this village previously so these locals had never set eyes on tourists before! M.V. Mahabaahu dropped anchor further down route near the banks of the Kaziranga National Park and we were completely enthralled to catch sight of a Bengal Tiger in the Elephant grass on the side of the bank.

The following day took us to Biswanath Ghat where houses are mainly brick and brightly painted; then on to Kaziranga National Park – home to the largest population of Indian Elephants and two thirds of the world’s Great One Horned Rhinoceros. On arrival at the National Park, we observed an array of elephants that were not part of the safari, but our mode of transport! Within minutes of heading off we took sight of our first One Horned Rhino just feet away. Due to the slow pace of the elephants, we were able to absorb every last beautiful detail of these amazing creatures. On the final day, we arrived at Guwahati just after breakfast and moored up to a floating dock.

En-route to Guwahati airport, there was time for one last sight-seeing treat – the Kamakyha Temple; a very important pilgrimage site for Hindus and Tantric worshippers. The mythical womb of Shakti, which supposedly rests in the sanctum of the temple, menstruates in the month of June, and turns the nearby Brahamaputra River bright red! Time spent in this spectacular place could not have been more wonderful or memorable and this was without doubt, the cruise holiday of a lifetime and one never to forget.

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