It’s the largest bay in the world, and at its widest stretches some 1,000 miles, from Myanmar in the east to India in the west. Maritime traders and migrants created a colorful tapestry of cultures. Rivers, including the sacred Ganges and legendary Irrawaddy, empty into the bay and create dramatic landscapes and wildlife habitats for migratory birds and even swimming tigers. With ports of call ranging from remote villages and nature reserves to bustling cities and vast Buddhist ruins, Zegrahm’s Bay of Bengal cruise, aboard the 120-guest Silver Discoverer, unveils the lives, languages, and landscapes of India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
You’ll be only the second ship to enter the Sundarbans Forest Reserves—the world’s largest mangrove forest (and a UNESCO World Biosphere)—which is nearly untouched by the outside world. Home to some 100 endangered Bengal tigers, these elusive felines are rarely seen but when spotted are usually in the water, having adapted to the environment. Explore the forest’s mosaic of islands and labyrinth waterways from Zodiacs and watchtowers, seeking out Ganges and Irrawaddy dolphins, estuarine crocodiles, Rhesus macaques, and the Bengal monitor. At peak season, you’ll visit Mangalajodi, the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent, when as many as 160 species are in residence and available for close-ups: stilts, ibis, storks, raptors, and much more.
The bay’s ports and natural resources powered the rise of great civilizations and religions. Here, in the state of Odisha, continuing excavations reveal some of the earliest and most rarely visited Buddhist sites, known as the “Diamond Triangle.” A walk among the ruins of monasteries, temples, stupas, and sculptures, set against a backdrop of fertile hills and paddy fields, often leaves visitors awestruck. Visits to other religious sites include the serene Hindu and Buddhist temples on the island of Maheskhali and the brightly painted gods of Kapaleeshwarar Temple in the midst of frenetic Chennai, and culminating in Yangon’s glittering, gold-leafed Shwedagon Pagoda.
Also along the Bay of Bengal, discover busy markets and rural byways, relax on pristine sandy beaches, and explore lively seaports and sleepy fishing villages in the company of Zegrahm’s expert expedition team, which includes naturalists, marine biologists, a historian, social anthropologist, ornithologist, and more. Together, you’ll sense a spirit that transcends religion, a story that transcends culture.