Rishikesh – a tiny town in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand state is a religiously important place due to the presence of the river Ganga along with the stories of its connection with Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Two suspension bridges across the river Ganga also have their own name on the map of tourism as it is believed that Lord Rama and Lakshmana used such bridges to cross the river when they came to Rishikesh to do penance for killing a brahmin. This town always looks busy with a lot of people in its narrow streets as it is close to Haridwar, another famous religious place of Hindus where thousands of devotees visit daily.

River Ganga flowing between Mountains

Rishikesh with its proximity to Delhi with a distance of 250 km through a well-laid highway is also always abuzz with not only devotees but also youngsters. It is a water sports activity known as river rafting in the famous river that many of them are thronging into this place. Apart from rafting, other adventurous activities like backpacking, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and rappelling are also added attractions for tourists in this small but beautiful place.

The sight of rafters in the river was tempting enough for us too on a casual morning trip from Haridwar to Rishikesh. When someone has thought of such things, the agents spread in many places will make sure that they won’t get a chance for a second thought to drop that plan by explaining in detail how much fun it is. They will also help with the booking arrangement. For us, they made in an office available in the parking place where we parked the car.

Another group of friends ready for rafting

For those who are unheard of it, rafting is using an air-filled (inflated) boat to travel in a river from upstream to downstream. A group of 8 to 10 people can travel in one boat or raft as it is known to be. The booking office will arrange the transportation to the upstream side of the river depending on the package one chooses, as there are mainly two locations from where the rafting starts. One is a 12 km journey and the other is 16 km as per the people associated with rafting, the four km stretch of river upstream is a bit of a dangerous area for aged people and kids, hence they won’t take them to that point for 16km rafting.

We, a group of 8 people were taken to the 16 km starting point with a raft tied at the top of the vehicle. The beauty of this hilly place was another thing captured on the trip. This place belongs to a particular state among others in India which is known as the Land of Gods and so blessed by nature as it gave them the splendid Himalayas, other mountains as 80 percent of the state is covered by mountains and hills along with divine rivers as per the Hindu mythology such as Ganga, Saraswati, Bhageertahi. The sight of mountains with forest on one side and river Ganga with rafters flowing in a stream on the other side looked wonderful and was a feast for the eyes. The location where we got down to start our rafting was so crowded with vehicles, inflated rafts, and 100s of people mostly youngsters with uniform color and attire wearing the life jacket which is to be worn during rafting.

rafting in rishikesh,
Waiting for our raft

At the starting point of rafting, a few meters of the walkable distance down from the road level, the sight of river Ganga which originated from the Himalayan glaciers around 250 km away flew through the land of Gods towards downstream of Rishikesh and Haridwar brought some divine feeling despite we were there for an entertainment activity. Few minutes on the riverbank until the rafting guide brought our rafter and made everything ready for us to sit inside was worthwhile with the view of the river, mountains, and the rush caused by the many rafts and rafters in the riverbank making the arrangements to start the rafting.

We were briefed by the guide about how to hold the pedal and how to make the perfect movement for synchronization after all were seated in a correct arrangement on both sides. Seating positions are important for balancing the boat with the rafting pedal in the hands. The river far away looked like having no constant profile either in the width or shape or in the intensity of its flow. We moved along with other rafters slowly and the initial concern of “will this first-time experience of rafting turn out to be dangerous or safe” has gone with the excitement of raft movement. By the time thinking that ‘what more excitement next’, the raft was at a place where the flow was so intense and high like waves in the sea due to which the raft was in up and down motion for some time. Irregular movement with the flow of the river was making ripples and sprinkles of water making everyone wet.   

Floating in the middle of River Ganga

The awesome beauty of this place was also changing along with the movement of the raft-such that it looked like different portrait looks that nature carved out for this special place. The mountain range on both sides between where the river Ganga is flowing was nature at its best except for the man-made road in between at several feet height from the river on both sides. The guide was already recording the whole event of rafting in his go-pro cam fitted in his helmet on a chargeable basis. The local guide who was controlling the rafting has making the moments fun by providing some details about the river, and the locations within the travel where the river has hidden dangers inside apart from frequent shouting to give directions on when to paddle or when to stop. He also made sure photographs are taken individually and in groups in different poses and at different locations other than recording the video.

The most interesting part of rafting was yet to come as the guide went to each one of us and tightened the jacket strips. Suddenly he told everyone to get ready to jump into the river when the raft reached a peaceful area. It was a real surprise as people who don’t even know swimming can also experience it. He suggested getting into the river in any mode by diving, jumping, or even slowly sliding through the side of the raft.  He also requested to do it one by one so that he could be able to record videos of the same individually for all. 

Soon we noticed many people from other rafts also were floating in the Ganga River like red leaves spread on the water’s surface as everyone’s jacket was red in color. Out of 8 from our group those who were knowing swimming were in no time seen in the water while others were thinking about how to proceed or whether to go for it. The guide was encouraging those doubtful few to jump by telling them that with life jackets all will only float and have nothing to fear or one can hold the rope tied to the raft too for safety.

Final moments of rafting as it approaches Laxman Jhula

Finally, everyone was in the river on both sides of the raft and the guide was busy recording the video of everyone individually, in groups, and per the demands of all. It was a surreal experience for being in the middle of the River Ganga in an unknown location where the banks were far away. It was never thought that such an awesome part was part of the rafting. Everyone was excited about making different ways to enjoy and posing for photos and videos. The body started slightly shivering due to the cold water, but no one was interested to get back to the raft till the guide instructed for the same as the peaceful portion of the river was getting over and we also saw rocks projecting outside a little away.

All were back in the raft completely wet, thrilled though tired but in the mood of we need it more or as a famous ad ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’. And to everyone’s surprise, the guide said that there were two more locations before the end of the rafting for experiencing the same. Again, all are told to row the raft in a synchronized manner and stop it where the flow is helpful in moving the raft forward. We also passed by the 12 km starting point where many people and rafts were preparing to start rafting.

The movement of the raft along the ripples of the river and in between where the raft seems to be jumping up and down continued till another location reached where it was time for jumping into river Ganga. This time there was no confusion to anyone as we all were jumped confidently by giving enough time to shoot the video in everyone’s individual requirement styles. Floating in the river, moving slowly with the flow and watching the special landscape of the terrain, and finally approaching Lakshman Jhula – the famous hanging bridge and the temples in Rishikesh on the banks of the river was quite special and unique compared with all the other travels made till then. There was no doubt in everyone’s mind that one more trip to Rishikesh for rafting is to be planned with other friends and family.


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