Rishikesh, located at the foothills of the Himalayas, is the first city the Ganges enters after coming down from the mountains. The holy river is the heart and soul of this small town. People come here in large numbers to admire the beauty of its aquamarine water and experience a sense of calmness watching it flow freely. Hearing its gurgling sound fills their heart with happiness and a surge of devotion runs through the body during the daily Ganga Aarti. The setting is perfect to sit back, relax, meditate and do some yoga.
Thus the Ganges evokes all kind of emotions in people – joy, devotion and tranquility. However, this is not all. The river has more to offer. Its waters attract adventure enthusiasts like magnet and hence rafting is a popular activity. Adventure lovers have a gala time in Rishikesh simultaneously enjoying and battling the rapids of the Ganges. It is fun and challenging at the same time.
About Rafting in Rishikesh
Rishikesh offers rafting experience for all kind of travellers – from amateur enthusiasts (like me) wanting to experience the thrills of water for fun during their vacation to more professionals and experienced one who know how to handle the tough rapids of the river.
The rafting stretch begins from 9 km (mostly for beginners) and go up to 34 km (for experts). The rapids in these stretches have names like Double Trouble, Clubhouse, Terminator, Sweet Sixteen, Roller Coaster and Three Blind Mice. They are categorised on the basis of their difficulty level. Some are easy to tackle while others require more seasoned approach. The smaller stretches have rapids that can easily be navigated while the bigger stretches have the ones that are more challenging.
As for the best season for rafting in Rishikesh, you can go anytime of the year except for the monsoon when rafting is not allowed.
The team of rafters meets at a pre decided point (mostly their office) fixed by the organisers and then head towards the starting point together in a vehicle (the raft is mostly tied on the top of this vehicle). There you are provided with the essential things – a lifejacket, a helmet and a paddle. Once you wear your safety gears, the instructor briefs you about the stretch, halting point and final stop, the various rapids that you will face, how to hold and use your paddle, different commands to follow (forward rowing, backward rowing, etc,) and most importantly the safety instructions.
Thereafter, the rafting begins with a loud chant of Ganga Maiya ki Jai or Glory to River Ganges. The entire team follows the commands of the instructor and paddles accordingly. Before facing every rapid, the instructor informs about the rapid and how to navigate it.
In between, when the water is stable and safe, you are allowed to take a plunge, though you have to hold the rope attached to the raft all the while for safety. There is usually a mid-point where you can stop and eat something or enjoy activities like cliff jumping.
The thrills of facing the rapids along with the rest of your team and finally crossing it victoriously is amazing. All through the trip, there are lots of smiles, laughter, enthusiasm as well as a bit of nervousness.
Who Should & Should Not Go?
Anyone interested in the activity can do it provided they are healthy and fit to paddle. Those with some kind of medical condition should discuss it with their doctors first.
For the easy stretch, it is not important to know swimming. Though, without doubt, it can definitely be a big bonus in case you fall off the raft.
In case you do not know swimming and you fall off, another significant thing that can help you is your attitude. Keeping calm in such situations is the first step to come out unhurt from them. If you panic, you invite trouble.
Tips for Rafting in Rishikesh
- Do a proper research before finalising the rafting company. Read reviews online or seek local advice if possible. Go only for authorised people.
- Wear your life jacket and helmet properly. These are your life savers so make sure they are tied properly.
- Listen to your instructor carefully, both before and during rafting.
- Wear proper clothing. A T shirt and jeans/shorts is just fine. Proper footwear is important. Waterproof shoes can be good.
- Apply sunscreen lotion if sun god is especially in a shiny mood.
- Also keep an extra set of clothes at the final point so that you can change after rafting is over. Do not ever think that if you are not getting down into water, you will stay dry. Water will splash on you every now and then even while you are on the raft.
- Put your phone in the water proof bag of the operator to save them from water.
In the End
Rafting in Rishikesh is a wonderful opportunity to have fun. It is an experience not to be missed if you are in the town. My own personal experience of rafting here, on a basic stretch of 9 kms, has been completely enjoyable one. It began from Clubhouse and culminated at the Nim beach covering rapids like Clubhouse & Double Trouble.
You can club your experience of rafting in Rishikesh with Ganga Aarti in Haridwar. The two destinations are just an hour apart and offer two very amazing experiences.