Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, flagged off the MV Ganga Vilas, the world's longest river cruise.
He termed it an "amalgam" of the modern and the ancient and said that the cruise would open new vistas for tourists from across the world.
Addressing the function virtually, the Prime Minister said that the cruise will bring several tourist destinations on the world map and give a never-before experience to tourists who can savour the food, culture, religious diversity and natural resources of the country.
"India has everything you can imagine and much more than what you can imagine. India can only be experienced," he said.
The Prime Minister said that this cruise will pave the way for more such cruises on budget and luxury categories. He said that there is a need to encourage water transport since this will also ensure a boost to the economy and offer self-employment opportunities for the youth.
He said that the Ganga was not a mere river but a part of Indian heritage.
Welcoming international tourists who will travel on the inaugural cruise, he hoped that they would have a lifetime experience.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman said that the cruise will travel 3,200 km in 51 days. This five-star moving hotel has 18 suites with the capacity of 36 tourists. Apart from this, it has accommodation for 40 crew members. The modernist ship is 62 meters in length and 12 meters wide and requires a draft of 1.4 meters.
It will take tourists across 27 river systems and will cruise through various prominent destinations.
According to a statement from Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Jaiveer Singh issued in Lucknow, the cruise will cover 50 tourist destinations, including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Guwahati in Assam.
There is a Sewage Treatment Plant on this cruise so that no sewage flows into the Ganga, as well as a filtration plant which purifies the Ganga water for bathing and other purposes.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated a tent city that has come up on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi.