Thursday 5 September 2013

Rafting Down the Ganges

Majority of the persons heading towards Rishikesh go to 'wash their sins' in the 'holy' Ganges (or Ganga). Rishikesh is a small town at the beginning of the hills in the state of Uttarakhand in India.

Time to head to the river front 

But whenever I head to Risikesh it always has to do something with adventure. It is either a starting point for the many treks or  the climbing expeditions that I have done. But this time I went to Rishikesh with rafting as the most important agenda.

Shivpuri Beach - our starting point

I also did two mini treks  - one to the Neergarh Falls where I also did some rappelling and the other to Garud Chatti Waterfalls. I was staying in the Brahampuri area so on the day of the rafting I first headed up river by road to Shivpuri, our starting point. 

One of the smaller Rapids

Once there the raft instructors gave us instructions about techniques to use the paddles, navigate the rapids, how to control the speed and direction and how to use the feet to lock yourself so as not to fall overboard. The instructions are crucial so as to avoid serious accidents later when the raft turns turtle but unfortunately I have observed that people who come in large groups hardly listen to the instructions and are still in their own world.

Rafting near the Brahampuri

At the very first rapid though my raft went without any problems but one of the rafts overturned throwing all its rafters overboard. Luckily there were no injuries and quickly the instructors (two of them were on kayaks as well) pulled them back to the raft.

Near the end of the rafting with Ram Jhula area in the background

The rapids have been given very interesting names presumably by Sir Edmund Hillary himself. Some of the names of the rapids between Shivpuri to Muni ki Reti were Roller Coaster, Golf Course, Double Trouble, Initiation, Club House etc. The total distance from Shivpuri to Muni ki Reti is about 17 kms and there are about six major rapids.

My jubliant team after finishing the rafting at Muni Ki Reti

There are stretches where the water flow is sluggish and one can then jump in the river and swim/float for some time. But do not get complacent by the serene looking river - it is deep and there have been innumerable instances of people trying some fun and resulting in fatal accidents as the undercurrent can sweep you off your feet easily.

Lemonade & snack sellers doing brisk business for the hungry & thirsty rafters

We finished the rafting at Muni ki Reti and all were in a celebratory mood though I could see some of the people were thoroughly tired as they have never paddled before in their life and some of them were shivering because they felt the water too cold when in rapids they were thoroughly drenched or were those who went overboard either accidentally or for experience. The lemondae and snacks sellers did a brsik business as most rafter were thirsty and hungry!

Rafting Over - Time to go home for the raft as well!

It was time for not only us but the rafts also to head home and the rafts were carried by four people over their heads and then fixed to the jeeps to go to our camps.

Best time to do rafting is from September to May. During monsoons the rafting activity stops as the flow is too much as well as the water is muddy. In winters the level is low and if you jump in the river to swim alongside your raft, which I did for a considerable time when I went in March, the water is too cold and you would not enjoy so much.

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