You are collected from your hotel late in the morning. Embark midday on your ship and sail up past the old Danish colony of Serampore to Barrackpore, land and take a walk through the cantonment past the Semaphore Tower, Government House, the Temple of Fame, and Flagstaff House, its garden housing many of the British statues removed from central Calcutta. At high tides, it may be necessary to perform the first mile or two under low clearance bridges by a launch before boarding the cruise ship at Bally Bridge.
Sail up to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950, and visit the 18th-century church and Dupleix's House containing a small museum. Drive on to visit the Dutch cemetery at Chinsurah, the Imambara at Hugli and the Portuguese church at Bandel, where you reboard your ship and cruise upstream, leaving urban sprawl and cruising through the night to a mooring near Kalna.
Land at the country town of Kalna and take cycle rickshaws to see a group of some of Bengal's most attractive terracotta temples and the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings of 108 shrinelets. Continue on through the countryside to Mayapur, its skyline dominated by the vast new ISKCON temple. Visit on the opposite bank at Nabadwip, the older and humbler temples entwined within a giant banyan tree before sailing on through the night to a mooring near Matiari.
This morning visit the brassworking village of Matiari, where you can see the primitive process of beating out brass water pots and other vessels. Later we'll cruise past the battlefield of Plassey, where in 1757, Clive's defeat of Siraj-ud-Daulah changed the course of Indian history to moor at Murshidabad.
Land and travel by cycle rickshaw to the Khushbagh, a peaceful Moghul-style garden enclosing the tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah and his family. Continue a little upstream to where the Nawab's great Hazarduari Palace, built by an English architect in 1837, dominates the waterfront. Inside are an extensive collection of pictures, china, weapons and other objects.
Visit the great Katra Mosque and drive out to two amazing buildings of the late 18th century, the Nashipara Palace and the Kathgola Palace. Both were built in classical Georgian style by rich local merchants and represent the other side of the coin of the "White Mughal" period when English and Indian cultures came close to fusion. Overnight on the riverbank across from town.
Moor at the delightful sleepy village of Baranagar with three gorgeous miniature terracotta temples to which you walk through the fields. This is rural India at its most idyllic. Continue up the Hugli, a charming waterway twisting and turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. Carry on to moor at dusk at Jangipur.
From Jangipur, near where the Hugli flows out from the Ganges, a morning excursion explores native villages where silk is woven, and "bidis" (primitive cigarettes) are rolled. Cruise up a long canal section to the Farakka Barrage in the afternoon.
Dawn transfers to Farakka station for the morning 6 hr train journey to Calcutta. Alternatively, it is possible to travel by road to Siliguri and Darjeeling (transfer not included in cruise price).