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Kolkata: Devotees and tourists planning a trip to Mayapur, running up to the famous Gaur Purnima celebrations there, have an additional reason to cheer!

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) today announced that it will operate a cruise service between Kolkata and Mayapur through the season.

This will enable visitors to avoid the tiresome road travel amidst traffic snarls or a journey in crowded trains.

At the same time, one will be able to relish the scenic beauty of Bengal’s countryside as the cruise navigates its course through river Hooghly.

Gaur Purnima marks the birth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the exponent of Vaishnava school of Bhati Yoga and the father of the Bengal Renaissance of 16th Century. This year it coincides with the Dol Yatra (Holi) on 21 March.

ISKCON spokesperson Subroto Das said that the cruise service has been named Jaladuta, the namesake of the one in which ISKCON founder Swami Prabhupada travelled from Kolkata to Boston in 1965.

“It will take about five hours to reach Mayapur, depending on the tide,” Das said. “The one-way cost will be Rs 2,000 per person and this includes a complimentary breakfast.”

Jaladuta has 30 reclining seats and two washrooms. It is commencing the service from Kolkata on 28 February. After this, the next dates are 4, 7 and, 20 March. The return cruise service will be available on 2, 6, 17 and, 23 March.

Millennium Park Jetty in the place from where the cruise will start from Kolkata. It will berth back in the same jetty.

This comes as an added advantage for tourists from outside Bengal who are arriving in Kolkata by train as the jetty is opposite to Howrah railway station.

“We are making arrangements for devotional kirtans on the cruise. Then there will be a screening of videos all through the journey presenting various facets of Sridham Mayapur,” the ISKCON spokesperson added.

Gaur Purnima this time is likely to attract more devotees to Mayapur from abroad to witness the Maha-abhishek (Grand Coronation) of Panchtattva deities weighing 2.5 tons and nearly 8 feet high. The ritual is held once every five years.