JUST CRUIS­ING ALONG

For sights worth see­ing.

Woman's Era - - News - Dr Veena Adige

I AM TALK­ING OF THE HIGHLY IN­TER­EST­ING GANGA AARTI CRUISES IN BA­NARAS OR HARDWAR. THE PLACID GANGA AT BA­NARAS PLAYS HOST TO HUNDREDS OF GANGA AARTI CRUISES. THE HUGE BOATS STAND STILL WHEN THE RE­VER­BER­AT­ING SOUNDS OF THE DRUMS, THE CHANT­ING AND THE WAVES OF AARTI FILL THE AIR.

Acou­ple of decades back go­ing on a cruise was a great event ven­tured only by the very rich. But now cruises are avail­able and within the reach of even or­di­nary, mid­dle-class peo­ple. There are great cruises like the Mediter­ranean or the Caribbean or the Ba­hamas and so on.

But for peo­ple like me who are afraid of fly­ing from Lon­don to New York think­ing of the great At­lantic Ocean be­low, smaller ones are more to my taste.

I am talk­ing of the highly in­ter­est­ing Ganga Aarti cruises in Ba­naras or Hardwar. The placid Ganga at Ba­naras plays host to hundreds of Ganga Aarti cruises. The huge boats stand still when the re­ver­ber­at­ing sounds of the drums, the chant­ing and the waves of aarti fill the air. The cam­eras go click click click and peo­ple fill their eyes and souls with the beauty of the whole even­ing. There are smaller boats, row boats and oth­ers which stand to watch the beau­ti­ful pageant. We were about 20 cou­ples , se­nior ci­ti­zens who had been stu­dents five decades back at the Ba­naras Hindu Univer­sity – and had got to­gether to cel­e­brate the event. The visit to the Alma Mater, the shop­ping of Ba­naras saris, and a visit to Sar­nath were all in­com­plete with­out wit­ness­ing the grand Ganga aarti and we were not dis­ap­pointed. Though there was a def­i­nite nip in the air (it was the last week of Jan­uary) we en­joyed the spe­cial Ba­naras mithai, the thandaai, etc while drink­ing in the beauty of the aarti.

A cou­ple of years back we had seen a sim­i­lar scene at Hardwar where the aarti is also in full swing ev­ery day. But it was a slightly muted ver­sion of the one at Ba­naras. Here also cruises stand­ing mid­stream to watch the aarti are plenty.

GOAN CRUISE

Talk­ing of cruises, who can for­get the mu­si­cal Goan cruise along the Man­dovi River? I have gone on this cruise sev­eral times and ex­pe­ri­enced a dif­fer­ent tone ev­ery time. The usual Goan songs with beau­ti­ful young cou­ples dressed in all their fin­ery is ex­cel­lent. The food and the drinks that go with it are also very fine. My hus­band and I were so en­am­oured by this cruise that we had a fourhour-long full boat to our­selves for our daugh­ter’s wed­ding re­cep­tion and all the guests were treated to Goan dances and cui­sine. Since the cou­ple is sta­tioned in the US for quite some time, their univer­sity and work col­leagues came from all over the world. We had a Ja­panese cou­ple, an Egyp­tian girl, a New Zealan­der, a friend from Turkey and other coun­tries to share the cruise. Dur­ing the typ­i­cal In­dian wed­ding, th­ese peo­ple wore In­dian clothes. The girls wore saris, and they had even man­aged to stitch a blouse but, hi­lar­i­ously, they did not know that a sari pet­ti­coat is worn un­der­neath and we had to give them ours! The men loved the kurta pa­ja­mas and looked grand in it. The

wed­ding along with the cruise be­came im­mor­tal even af­ter so many years and the birth of kids.

We have seen the Mar­ble Rocks at close quar­ters from a cruise in Ja­balpur and were struck with won­der at the grandeur.

Ev­ery place which has a prom­i­nent water body opts for cruises to at­tract the tourists. There are din­ner and sight­see­ing cruises, break­fast cruises, day-long cruises, cruises that take you to nearby is­lands for a cou­ple of days. In fact, there are cruises to suit ev­ery pocket.

While in Aus­tralia, we opted for a din­ner, Latino show and sight­see­ing four-hour cruise. We were stay­ing just 10-min­utes from the har­bor and ev­ery­one as­sured us that if we started half-hour ear­lier than the sched­uled time, we would get the cruise. How­ever, we had not bar­gained for the Fri­day rush of traf­fic and we reached the boat with just two min­utes to spare. We got in and even be­fore we could find our seats in the crowded boat, it had started! We saw the fa­mous Syd­ney Opera House with its dis­tinc­tive sail-like de­sign, Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge and other at­trac­tions. The next day we saw all this by road. One of the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of th­ese sight­see­ing cruises is that they take photos as you en­ter and dis­play huge prints by the time you get out of the ship. You are free to buy them or not but most peo­ple buy them as me­men­toes.

MES­MERIS­ING MEM­O­RIES

I just can­not for­get the lovely cruise at Mil­ford Sound in New Zealand. Though we had seen quite a few places in the world New Zealand was a beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tion. My whole fam­ily de­cided to take a cruise on the lovely lake and what a beauty it was! We saw dol­phins play­ing in the waters, seals sun­ning them­selves, and cute pen­guins wad­dling about. The seals were lazily sit­ting on rocks and star­ing at us with un­wink­ing eyes.

Years back, on my very first trip to Europe, I was fas­ci­nated by the trip on the River Rhine. The boat was huge and while trav­el­ling the river it was very fas­ci­nat­ing to see how the dif­fer­ent water lev­els were main­tained by the boats. Two gates on ei­ther side at a dis­tance of maybe a kilo­me­ter were there. The ship from the lower level of water would slowly float up to the higher level when it was firmly kept be­tween the two gates.

When it reached the higher level, the other gate would open and the ship would pass. I was ter­ri­fied and also fas­ci­nated. I can­not re­call now which place it was but it was part of our Grand Europe Tour, a scenic cruise on the River Rhine.

Cruis­ing on river Thames in Lon­don or a cruise in New York is great. My daugh­ter and son-in-law ‘pre­sented’ us a New York cruise for our an­niver­sary which was fas­ci­nat­ing. We saw all the sights of New York from the boat and even cir­cled the Statue of Lib­erty and took great pic­tures from close quar­ters. There are hundreds of cruises and one can cut one’s coat ac­cord­ing to the cloth one has. They are all in­ter­est­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing and great tourist de­lights, ones which no one should miss. “Fam­ily is the most im­por­tant thing in the world.”

White mar­ble rocks at Bhedaghat. Mil­ford seals. Syd­ney opera house.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.