Bored of those usual four-hour-drive weekend getaways? The ones where you are well aware of the dal makhni-roti lunch at the roadside dhaaba and the antakshari that will end the night! Looking for something more thrilling, yet within reach — both budget and distance-wise? White water rafting in Rishikesh may become your natural choice once you discover its adventurous advantages.
A night’s journey from Delhi takes you to Rishikesh. And even as you enter Rishikesh by the dawn, known more as a cousin to the Hindu-holy place Haridwar, the river Alaknanda on your right hand side beckons you. So have a quick breakfast if you want to and hit the highway — we mean the river — before the traffic gets heavy.
You don’t really need to be a swimmer to go rafting — life jackets and helmets are enough to take care of all your apprehensions. Wear slacks, shorts and tees to feel comfortable. The inflated rubber rafts, usually imported, can take 8-12 people and you’ll be given a short crash course on how to paddle through. And then, the 16-km rush hour begins from Shivpuri.
The stretch has some excellent rapids [whirlpools and waves created due to rock positioning] for beginners. Each edge-of-the seat passage through these thrills you to the hilt and leaves you wanting for a bigger challenge upfront — even the most docile character in your group may be seen thumping his/her fist.
In between rapids, jump off into the river and sway with the tide. Savour the blend nature and adventure to your heart’s content.
The end stretch soothes your nerves automatically as you pass by the temples on both the banks with Ram and Lakshman jhoolas swinging above you.
The summer rafting season closes by the end of this month and opens again in October
Other places for rafting
Teesta, Sikkim-Darjeeling: One of the best in India, Teesta provides a series of rapids with various intensities at intervals.
J&K: On the Indus between Spituk and Saspol for the more adventrous ones. For a leisurely fun, the stretch near Pehalgam.
Garhwal: Water sports resort at Dakpathar in Dehradun, located at the foothills of the Shiwaliks on the banks of Yamuna.
Plan right now
How to go: Night buses to Haridwar and Rishikesh from ISBT and other places. Train till Haridwar. Can drive down too.
Stay at: The best way to soak up the fun is staying in the camps by the river. Hotels, too, are in abundance. But remember, it’s a total vegetarian zone.
Go rafting: The 16 km Shivpuri-Rishikesh rafting is the most popular one. As many as 50-80 rafts ply in a day.
Pocket talk: Do not pay more than Rs 350/ person for this one. There is also a 24 km and a 41 km stretch for those wanting to push the limit further.