There are only a few things that appeal to adventure enthusiasts more than the thrill of riding on the wild waters of untamed rivers, or white water rafting as it is called. The mighty rivers flowing down from the heights of the Himalayas make India one of the world’s best places for adventure. While the best of rafting options lie north, in the Himalayan waters, South, West and East has also seen recently the development of the sport. We bring you our list of 10 places to go rafting in India.
The Ganga at Rishikesh is one of the world’s best rivers to raft. A 16 km stretch from Shivpuri to Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh, rapids range from grade 1 to grade 4. This stretch, rich with whirlpools and rapids, has seen the likes of Brad Pitt come for a rafting adventure. There are as many as 13 rapids with curious names like Return To Sender, Roller Coaster, Three Blind Mice, Double Trouble, Tee Off and Golf Course. An excellent combination of chilled and beautiful white sand river beaches against the scenic Kumaon Mountains, the best season to go there is from September to June.
Other runs here are — Chandrapuri-Rudraprayag (26 km, higher grades) on the Mandakini; Matli-Dunda (12 km, mixture of grades), Jangla-Jhala (20 km, a mixture of grades), Harsil-Uttarkashi, Dharasu-Chham (12 km, a mixture of grades) on the Bhagirathi.
Rafting is held between Padum and Zimo regions in the Zanskar river gorge at the height of 12000 feet of the sea level. Walls of mountains rise to hundreds of feet on both sides. The rafting route ends as the river merges with the Indus. The route passes through some very rough terrains and remote places in Ladakh. The river is rated as grade IV. Best time to go is July to August as the river freezes during winters.
River Indus on Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Amidst deep gorges, towering snow-capped peaks, hilltop monasteries, hillside villages, Ladakh offers a range of rafting options on the Indus and its major tributaries. The rafting season begins in the months of June upto late August on the river Indus when the water levels are high. Tamer in comparison to the more rugged water flow of the river in Nepal, rafting is more commonly done from (Phey to Sasphol) Spitok to the Indus-Zanskar confluence at Nimmu, and from Nimmu to the ancient temple complex at Alchi, graded an average of 2-3. The more challenging route lies between Alchi and Khalsi, which takes in the kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla.
Through gorges, charming villages and white sandy beaches, the Bhagirathi offers 150 kms of pure white water rafting thrill. The raft run is down the lower Bhagirathi gorge and is graded between levels 3 and 4. Rapids like “Elephant rock”, “The Chute”, “Sharp S”, “Confluence rapids” are encountered till Bhagirathi’s confluence with the Alaknanda at Devprayag to form the Ganga. Further ahead are the best rapids of the Ganga, ‘Daniel Dip’ and ‘The Wall’. The best season for a rafting adventure falls between October and mid-May.
Teesta river, Sikkim and Darjeeling
The rugged Teesta River, the main river of Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong Hill Region, with a series of rapids with varying intensity, has been rated at Grade 4. The turbulent Rangit, a tributary of the Teesta, with its multi-dimensional rapids, it offers a challenge to more experienced rafters. In Teesta rafting is confined to the winter months, between October and April. Spring or early summer is ideal for river rafting. Paddle rafting and oar rafting can be done in the Teesta River.
Brahmaputra River Rafting Expedition
The Brahmaputra river, both mystifying and ferocious, finds its way down the Tibet region by cutting Greater Himalayas and then enters Arunachal Pradesh from where the expedition initiates. A week long run in the river of Brahamputra takes the rafters through remote hill sides with a few tribal settlements in thick rainforests. The expedition starts from Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh on the Subansari river, the primary tributary of the Brahmaputra, and ends after 180 kms of rafting at Pasighat. The trip also gives an excellent exposure to remarkable sceneries and unparalleled locations making this river’s white water rafting amongst premier expedition in India.
The rafting is rated at Level IV. What makes it doubly interesting is the area has virgin beauty, Arunachal Pradesh being closed for tourism until recent days. The best rafting season for Bramhaputra is November to March.
Kali/Sharda River Rafting Expedition
Kali (also known as Sharda) in India while Mahakali in Nepal, originates in the Pithorgarh district of Uttarakhand and forms a natural eastern boundary between India and Nepal. Passing through verdant jungles the trip offers a view of various wild animals, and birds, while rafting through the pristine, and deserted environment. Put-in point for rafting varies according to the season, starting at Jauljibi / Jhulaghat for pre-snowmelt season (March / April) and Pancheswar for post-snowmelt season (May / June or Mid-Sept / Oct / Nov).
Pancheswar is also a famous fishing site for the mighty Mahseer and a rafting expedition could be combined with an angling trip.
Tons in Garhwal
The Tons River flows through Garhwal, the western part of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. The biggest tributary of the Yamuna, the Tons River is said to have more water and wrath than the Yamuna itself. The average rating being between grade III, IV and it also has some grade V rapids. It is considered as one of the most challenging white water river rafting expeditions in the country today.
Kundalika, the fastest river of the South, at Kolad, is an excellent rafting destination South of the Himalayas. Situated amidst the magnificent Sahyadris, the almost 15-kilometre stretch of rapids along this river provides ample opportunities for an exciting experience. Rapids range between Class III & IV. The best months for rafting are in the months of monsoon when the water levels are high.
Barapole in Coorg
River Barapole in Coorg, Dakshina Kannada, specially the upper river, provides excellent rafting opportunities. Situated in the Western Ghats edging along the Deccan Plateau, the grades range between 2 and 4.There are approximately 4 to 5 rapids in the regular upper section & about 6 to 7 rapids in the lower section, these rapids depending on water levels are between grade 2 to 3 or 4. The best season to raft is in the monsoon and post-monsoon months of June to September.
Dandeli is yet another popular white water rafting spot in Karnataka that offers both long and short runs along the river.