The rivers of India are central to the local way of life, and travel by boat is a wonderful way to discover areas that are otherwise almost inaccessible.
The longest river in India, the Brahmaputra, runs through the spectacular scenery of Assam and is an ideal introduction to river cruising in India. In addition, summer cruises are possible on the Hugli River between Calcutta and the Ganges.
Experience a rice barge or a cruise boat in Kerala
A trip aboard a 'kettuvallam', or traditional rice barge is a wonderfully relaxing way to explore the backwaters of Kerala.
These giant 80ft (24m) long crafts are converted into simple, furnished houseboats with one or two en suite bedrooms, dining area and deck. Suitable for one to two nights, the boats are crewed by a captain and cook who cater to your needs while you watch life along the riverbanks.
A luxurious option is the MV Vrinda
Spend three days on this Oberoi cruise boat enjoying the tranquil waterways of Kerala.
There are just eight luxury cabins on the lower deck, each with a king size bed with a view of the backwaters, TV and DVD player and en suite bathrooms. The upper deck houses a lounge and bar with panoramic views of the backwaters, while breakfast is served on the sundeck. Delicious South Indian cuisine is served based on local ingredients.
Rice boat options on Kerala's backwaters
This Oberoi cruise boat offers three days of luxury on the tranquil waterways of Kerala. There are just eight luxury cabins on the lower deck, each with great views.
Keralan Houseboat/Rice Barge
Locally known as 'kettuvallam', these craft have been converted into simple, furnished houseboats with en-suite bedrooms, an open lounge and eating area, a deck and kitchenette.
Discovery House Boat
The Discovery is a traditional rice barge blended with contemporary tropical architecture, creating the space for comfortable, air-conditioned acccommodation.
River cruising ideas in East India
The Charaidew is a 38m long passenger boat which has been converted to offer twelve air-conditioned en suite cabins on the upper deck.
The Sukapha is a new 38m long passenger boat with 12 twin bed cabins each with private bathroom. All cabins are on the top deck where the best views can be had.