Rafting In Rishikesh

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Rafting In Rishikesh


The Ganga and its tributaries:

1.Kaudiyala - Shivpuri (Alaknanda): About 28 km upstream from the town of Rishikesh, on the Alaknanda, is one of India’s best known- and most popular- stretches for river rafting. The stretch between Kaudiyala and Shivpuri has several camps, each catering to rafting outfits. Most of these operate between October to March, through the winter. The run starts at Kaudiyala and passes through thickly wooded hills; along the way are two of the river’s best rapids- one known as the `wall’ and the other called the `golf course’- which are succeeded by deep, tranquil pools. The river route makes it way past riverside temples, under the Laxman Jhoola. The run finally terminates at the dam beyond Rishikesh.

Rishikesh, which is about 257 km from Delhi, is well connected to most of northern India by road; the nearest railhead is at Hardwar, while the nearest airport is Jolly Grant, at Dehradun. There are regular buses to Rishikesh from Delhi, Hardwar and Dehradun. Once in Rishikesh, you can hire a vehicle to get to the river camp- in most cases, however, the tour operator will make arrangements for transport from Rishikesh to Kaudiyala. Besides the travel agencies who book Kaudiyala-Shivpuri trips, the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) and UP Tourism also offer runs along the stretch.

2.Rudraprayag-Rishikesh (Alaknanda): Situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Mandakini- two of the main tributaries of the Ganga, Rudraprayag is known to many wildlife buffs as the place where the famous Jim Corbett shot a man eating leopard in 1926. Although no longer as thickly wooded as it once was, Rudraprayag is still close enough to the jungles to make it a very charming place- and the starting point of an exhilarating, if strenuous, bit of river-running.

Starting a little beyond the main town of Rudraprayag, the river makes its way through a series of rapids, narrow gorges and quieter stretches, passing through the towns of Srinagar and Devprayag (at the junction of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi). Further on, the river reaches Kaudiyala, from where the stretch to Shivpuri and on to Rishikesh is a fairly demanding one. The entire expedition takes about four or five days, depending upon the pace.

What is particularly appealing about the Rudraprayag-Rishikesh run is that other than the adventure of rafting on one of India’s best stretches, it also offers the chance to see the densely forested Himalayan foothills at close quarters. Furthermore, the river passes through the heart of `sacred’ India- with plenty of opportunity to visit old temples. Anyway, rafting on the Alaknanda can mean loads of dips- intentional and otherwise-in the holy river!

3.Tehri-Shivpuri (Bhagirathi/Alaknanda): The Tehri-Shivpuri run, on the Bhagirathi river, is considered to be one of India’s best runs- scenic and heart-stoppingly exhilarating. Beginning at the town of Tehri, the district headquarters of Tehri Garhwal, this run goes down the Bhagirathi river, passing through foaming rapids- mostly grade III or IV- till it reaches Devprayag. At Devprayag, the Bhagirathi merges with the Alaknanda, beyond which the river becomes- in places- more manageable than in the upper reaches. Passing Kaudiyala, the run goes on to Shivpuri, and then to Rishikesh (for more details, see the Rudraprayag-Rishikesh run, above).

Tehri is connected by bus to other major towns in northern India, including Rishikesh, Hardwar and Dehradun.

Other popular stretches for rafting on the Ganga and its tributaries are:

On the Alaknanda: Kaliasaur to Srinagar (16 km, lower grades) Srinagar to Bagwan (20 km, lower grades)

On the Bhagirathi: Matli-Dunda (12 km, a mixture of grades) Jangla-Jhala (20 km, a mixture of grades) Harsil-Uttarkashi,Dharasu-Chham(12 km, a mixture of grades)

On the Mandakini: Chandrapuri-Rudraprayag (26 km, higher grades)

There are regular buses to Rudraprayag from Rishikesh and Hardwar.

Best time to visit

The monsoon brings heavy rain to the lower reaches of the Himalayas, and melting snows in the mountains result in higher waters in all of the rivers. Summers, therefore, though a good time to go rafting, can be a little unsafe, especially for novices who haven’t travelled on a river in spate. For novices, August and September- when waters are lower and more manageable- are the best months to go rafting; veterans can opt for expeditions earlier in the summer. Spring or early summer is also usually suitable for river running.


The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) is especially active in organising river running; it holds regular courses too, which can be very useful for first-timers.


Rafting in daylight is recommended.

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