The Bay of Bengal occupies the northeast portion of the Indian Ocean. The countries that border the bay include Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. A large number of cargo is handled at these ports. The bay is of major importance ecologically due to the number of species it supports. A number of well-preserved historic and religious sites are found throughout the region. A cruise to the Bay of Bengal has much to offer.
A Taste of Different Cultures and Ports
During a Bay of Bengal cruise, you'll be exposed to a number of different cultures. The specific places you'll visit will vary based on the line you travel on and the ship. Below are some of the places you'll stand a good chance of seeing.
Singapore has a number of colonial buildings, as well as the National Orchid Garden with its beautiful flowers. The Andaman Islands off India's coast are a popular destination. Mt. Harriet National Park has a number of species to see, many of which are endangered or threatened. The National Marine Park has beautiful beaches and coral reefs worth a snorkeler's attention. In Sri Lanka, you can visit Polonnaruwa, an ancient city designated as a World Heritage site. Madurai, home to India's Tamil people, has a museum dedicated to Hindu mythology.
Impressive Religious and Historical Sites
The area has a remarkable number of temples and pagodas. Most are open to non-Buddhist and non-Hindu visitors. However, guests are required to remove their shoes and socks before entering, as well as wash their feet. Muslim sites require the removal of shoes and headcoverings for women.
Singapore is home to the elaborately-decorated Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple and the beautiful Sultan Mosque. In Ragoon, Myanmar, visitors are greeted by the Shwedagon Pagoda. The Chauk Htat Gyi is a famous reclining Buddha, and the Sule Pagoda is 2000 years old with a gold dome. Pagan, the ancient capital of Myanmar, has 2000 temples to explore, including the Shwezigon Pagoda. Gubyaukgyi is a temple located in a cave that has great frescoes.
In Habana, Sri Lanka, a temple called Golden Temple of Dambulla is built into the side of a tall cliff. Five caves in the area have Buddhist statues. Kandy, Sri Lanka, is home to the Temple of the Tooth. It is believed to house one of the Buddha's teeth. In Maduri, India, the Sri Meenakshi Temple complex is a popular place to visit, with colorful carvings.
Several Bay of Bengal cruises, especially those visiting the Andaman Islands, are offered as expedition cruises. These take place on smaller vessels, with more of an emphasis on the destinations' offerings then onboard activities. Experts often travel onboard to offer lectures relating to the places you'll be visiting. These types of cruises offer time to explore pursuits such as hiking, birding, snorkeling and diving. You'll want to make sure you have all your camera equipment with you, as there are plenty of things to photograph.