Tide Might – Rafting in India

For "Destinations", Horizon, The Assam Tribune

In the midst of a tumultuous river with waves thirsting to engulf you any moment and a row and the kayak to fight the ‘tide might’ sets my adrenaline rushing. And I was about to cancel my third rafting trip to Rishikesh – India’s white water rafting hothub, when Ma, miraculously (reluctantly, nevertheless) gave her approval. My astrologer (she says) has warned me against all water-sports and my argument that it is only a different way of stating that I should learn swimming, would be tagged ‘crap’ (promptly). But this time, my approach was different. I explained to her that with expert guides and the latest equipment, becoming river-smart is easy. Anyone and everyone is eligible, swimmers and non-swimmers, young and old. Even Hydrophobics can join the vacationers, for the waters apart, the rafting trips nowadays also have trekking, camping and a myriad activities added to it make it a complete rafting experience. Lifeline, throw bags, tested life jackets, helmets and paddles are arranged for. You also get a safety Kayaker travelling with each group for emergency. The Himalayas rule the roost of adventure sport activities in India. All the liquid that melt down the snow-plumed mountains thunder into the rivers and gorges to give India her share of ‘aqua-might’! Stretching 3,200 kilometers along India's northern frontiers, the Himalayas are veined with a plethora of wild water bodies. The gush of the currents, the tumultuous waters ready to engulf you any moment are an endless hormonal doze for adventure enthusiasts and its white-waters are internationally acclaimed as amongst the bests.

The Ganges: About 257 km from Delhi, is Rishikesh. Some 28 km upstream from here on the Alaknanda river is India’s best white water rafting zone. This Brad Pitt (Hollywood Star) favorite run starts at Kaudiyala and ends at Shivpuri, passing through pine and oak wooded hills dotted with rare wild fauna, frothing into the famed rapids (technical term for water currents) - ‘Wall’ at Bysi and the 4-km ‘Golf-Course’. Go there between October to March and through the winter. The route Rudraprayag-Rishikesh on Alaknanda, passes through Srinagar and Devprayag forming grade III or IV rapids and some of India’s holiest sites and temples, good for those who would like to blend some spiritual rejuvenation to the adventure. Other runs are --- Chandrapuri-Rudraprayag (26 km, higher grades) on the Mandakini; Matli-Dunda (12 km, mixture of grades), Jangla-Jhala (20 km, a mixture of grades), Harsil-Uttarkashi, Dharasu-Chham (12 km, a mixture of grades) on the Bhagirathi.

Brahmaputra Rafting: Congratulations, for if Rishikesh sounds too far off, you can dare a rafting escapade right at the Brahmaputra. Head straight for Arunachal Pradesh for the best rapids. The Subansiri, has deep gorges that are best rafted between November and March, after the monsoons. The most exciting rafting tracks are along Kameng (Seppa- Bhalukpung), Subansiri (Taliha- North of Daporijo), Siang (entire course) and Dibang (Anini- Assam Border). You can club your trip with trekking escapades. The most exciting trek in this region is around Tawang Chu. This trek starts from Jong, the bus-head in between Se- la and Tawang. From Jong to Mago, the trek route passes through a wonderful jungle flaked with magnificent waterfalls. Lip-smacking, isn’t it?

The Zanskar: Gentler than the Alaknanda’s and Bhagirathi’s and excellent for beginners, the Zanskar, arising near the Himachal-Jammu & Kashmir border, has the Phey-Nimmu route (Grade II or III) and Phey-Nimmu route (Grade II or III). Magnificent monasteries, colorful fluttering flags, verdant valleys beckon adventurers for quick tea-breaks en route. The Teesta: The Teesta river meanders down the craggy eastern Himalayan mountains savoring a blend exciting designer-rapids (Grade III or IV) at Sikkim, just excellent for kayaking or rafting. Makha and Rongpo, stretches between Dikchu and Teesta Bridge and Bordang and Melli are the best runs. The Kali River: At the Indo-Nepalese international boundary, this meandering river makes an exhilarating blend of long float trips, great angling and class III/IV white water rafting. Visit during October to May.The Himalayan rivers, being snow-fed mostly, are best for rafting during summers, i.e. June and July. But for beginners, August and September, when waters are lower and more manageable, is the best time. The Teesta is one of the few rivers where river rafting is confined to the winter months, between October and April.

Once I am completely done with my rafting-hangover, I will plan to pen my Rishikesh Rafting travelogue. Experiences are better penned when they are fresh in your mind, but the trip was too exciting and full of those ‘cannot miss’ moments to be rounded in just 750 words. I can do a series, provided the readers don’t feel bored of my latest water-fetish.

Once again, thank you for all your mails. Have a wonderful weekend! Keep the wanderlust on!


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