Rishikesh Rajan's arms ached
as he paddled hard to help
steer his raft through a particularly
sharp bend along the
river. Further downstream,
he heard the faint, familiar rumble of a
gushing rapid and spotted the milky
white foam that frothed on the surface.
The raft's guide hollered at them to stop
paddling and Rajan felt a surge of adrenaline
as the little raft hit the rapid and
a huge load of water tumbled on them.
"That sums up my all-time favourite
rafting experience. Nothing else can
match the rush," said Rajan, a 25-yearold
software engineer who first went
rafting two years ago as part of an HR
Adventure closer home
The river in question wasn't a huge
Himalayan one, but a smaller one closer
home. Unlike snow-fed Himalayan
rivers that are gushing torrents of water
all year round, most rivers in
Maharashtra are weak trickles in comparison.
But as soon as the southwest
monsoon settles into the Konkan by
July, the meek little rivers swell into an
angry force of water, with their own
And it's this tiny window of a month
or two every year usually between
July and August that turns into a
river rafting rush for adventure seekers
in the state. Rafting in Maharashtra
still isn't as widespread as it is in the
North and is in fact done only on two
rivers in the Konkan belt close to
Mumbai the Kundalika, near Roha,
and the Ulhas, near Karjat.
The level of rapids you find in rivers
in Maharashtra (levels 1-3) may not be
much compared to their Himalayan
cousins (levels 1-6), but rafters say that
there are other advantages to monsoon
rafting in Maharashtra.
"The rivers here are completely rainfed,
because of which their levels differ
every year. This makes them unpredictable
and adds to the fun," said Andre
Morris, Outbound Adventure, who has
been organising rafting and canoeing
trips on the Ulhas for the last 20 years.
Sometimes, the water levels of the
Ulhas rise so much that Morris' group
has landed at the rafting starting point
and decided against rafting that day.
Sometimes, they have also decided to
wait a few hours for the water to recede,
given safety concerns.
The rivers are almost dry in the summer
months, which lets adventure companies
scout the length of the river. "We
usually walk down the 7-8 km rafting
stretch of the Ulhas in summer to check
the riverbed for sharp rocks and boulders
and get an idea of where risky
points could be. So it's a boon from the
safety point of view," said Morris.
As for the Kundalika River near
Roha, its 10-12 km rafting stretch packs
in double the fun during rainy months.
Apart from being fed by rainwater, the
river also gets water released by a nearby
dam of a hydroelectric power plant
between 7 am-11 am on all days except
"Between the rainwater and the
water released from the dam, very good
rapids are formed, attracting many
rafters to the river during the rainy season,"
said Commandant S.P. Ahuja of
Mercury Himalayan Explorations, an
adventure company that's been offering
rafting trips on the river for over
three years now. "Many are between
level one and level three," he added.
Rafts of all sorts
The rivers also have a few stretches
that are ideal to go kayaking or canoeing
on. But that's taking the adventure
sport to the next level if you're the
sort who likes to strike it solo, train hard
and long in kayaking.
"Kayakers need special skills to handle
kayaks in rapid flowing water. We
don't yet offer courses that teach it, but
if an experienced kayaker comes along,
we are happy to provide him with the
equipment he needs," added Morris.
Want to play the game?
Who can RAFT?
Almost everybody except pregnant
women, people with heart trouble and
those with severe asthma can raft.
Children below 10 years aren't
allowed. Different tour groups have
different age restrictions. Mercury
Himalayan Explorations restricts children
between 10 and 14 years to certain
sections on the river, Outbound
Adventure has an age limit of 12 years.
You need to be physically fit.
Whom should you contact?
To raft on the Kundalika River:
Mercury Himalayan Explorations, cost:
Rs 1,200, www.himalayanadventure
.com; Nature Knights (organises a pick
up and drop facility from Mumbai to
Kolad), cost: Rs 2,150, www.nature
knights.com; And Rafting on Kundalika,
cost: Rs 1,250 on weekends and Rs
1,000 on week days, www.rafting
To raft on the Ulhas River, Karjat:
Outbound Adventure, cost: Rs 1,600.