The Himalayan Rivers which flow through over 3,250 km range of this mightiest mountain in the world make India a world class destination for white water rafting. Their southwards flow through the deep gorges by the dense forests and vertical cliffs is the best to engage in the thrilling game of whitewater rafting. Beside the Himalayan Rivers, there are also great sites deep in south. Let’s find out where all you can indulge in white-water rafting in India.
Uttarakhand is the most preferred destination for whitewater rafter, partly because of its approach from major metro cities and partly because of some outstanding yet easy to do rapids on the Gangaes and its innumerable tributaries. Some of the rafting areas along the river are:
Shivpuri-Rishikesh Stretch on the Ganges
This 16 km long stretch is one of the most popular stretches for whitewater rafting in India. The rafting begins at Shivpuri and passes through thickly wooded hills along the way of the river’s exciting rapids and deep, tranquil pools. It terminates at Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh. The stretch remains open from September to June.
This is an exhilarating and strenuous stretch that begins a little beyond the main town of Rudraprayag. The River Alaknanda makes its way through a series of rapids, narrow gorges and quieter stretches, passing through the towns of Srinagar and Devprayag. This entire stretch takes around four to five days depending upon the speed. The highlight of this whitewater rafting stretch is that it offers the opportunity to see the densely forested Himalayan foothills at close quarters.
The Kali Ganga
The 117 km long Jauljibi-Tanakpur rafting stretch passes through some of the fastest and most dangerous rapids along the river. Most of the river is Grade IV or higher and should be considered only after you’ve had some experience of river running.
The River Indus is perfect for Grade II and III trips, and ideal for beginners as it is much quieter than the Ganga.
Long but not difficult stretch of the Upshi-Khaltsi consists of grade I and II rapids. However at places you will also find grade III rapids. The run starts at Upshi, which lies upriver from Leh to Khaltsi, along the road to Kargil.
This is an easy and short trip down river near Leh. The Spituk-Saspol route is easy enough to allow you to admire the beauty of the Indus Valley. However, beyond Saspol, the river starts getting a little rough and is recommended only for experts.
This is a three-hour rafting stretch which goes through quiet, calm waters, and passes through the riverside villages of Stakna, Shey and Thikse, before ending at Choglamsar, just short of Leh city.
Leh is well connected to Delhi and other major cities of India through airlines. Adventure enthusiasts can also arrive at the mountain city through road via Manali or Srinagar.
The River Zanskar in Jammu & Kashmir is not as wild and rough as the river Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi. The River has grade III and IV rapids, but they are fewer and after long distances.
Padum – Nimmu Run
This is one of the most exciting rafting stretch on the River Zanskar. The whitewater rafting trip along this stretch requires several days and involves having to camp out in the wild. There are some exciting rapids and recommended only for those who have previous rafting experience.
Phey – Nimmu
This stretch that has some fantastic Grade II or III rapids passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains. The run starts at Phey and ends about 36 km from Leh, at Nimmu.
Padum is Zanskar’s administrative centre which is accessible from Kargil. Buses run between the two towns on alternate days between July and October, and vehicles may be hired in Kargil to do the trip.
Indian and foreign travelers need to take Inner Line Permit, a travel document issued by the Government of India, to visit a protected area of Jammu & Kashmir. Foreigners visiting Ladakh are required to obtain Ladakh Protected Area Permit (PAP) before entering this region.
Rapids on the Teesta River are literally tailor-made for rafting. Although this river is not as developed as those in Uttarakhand, it is acquiring a reputation as a good stretch for white water rafting. Most of the Teesta is either grade III or IV, there is advisable to have some experience of river running before you attempt it.
Makha – Rongpo: This is two and half hour long stretch.
Dikchu – Kali Johra: This is a five days stretch, having some outstanding views along the road on offer.
River Kali in Dandeli
The rapids of river Kali are ideal for both professional rafters to a gentle family. The Rafting stretch passes through the rough and gentle rapids over 13 km of the river. The entire stretch of rafting covers the roughest channels through magnificent forest of the Western Ghats. The Bison River Resort conducts Bison River Run and Mid River Run white water rafting program in the Kali River.
When to go
The best time for whitewater rafting differs from one river to another. The best time of whitewater rafting around Ladakh and Zanskar is summers and monsoon as during winter the River Zanskar freezes while the Indus remains too cold for rafting. Though people flock to Rishikesh between June and September, but the ideal time for Rafting in Ganga and other rivers of Uttarakhand is between October and February when the Ganga is not too chilly because of low melting of snow. White Water Rafting on Ganga is usually a minimum of two to three days affair—nothing can match enjoying barbeques and lazing around at a rafting camp under that cozy winter sun. Monsoon is not safe for river rafting. Spring or early summer is also usually suitable for river running. River rafting in the Teesta is confined between October and April. In south India, white water rafting can be enjoyed the best during monsoon when there is enough water in the river.
What do you need
Before rafting you must consult your doctor for your health and related issues. You need to be physically and mental for the act. People suffering from heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes, or any other serious ailments or expecting mothers are mostly not permitted for white water rafting. Children below 12 years of age are not allowed for rafting. Non-swimmers may be restricted to certain sections of the river on the advice of the river guide, though being a non swimmer should never be taken as a deterrent.
Whom to Contact
There are a number of operators who conduct whitewater rafting in different rivers of India. While making a booking, make sure that they are licensed to conduct White Water Rafting by the Government authorities. The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India, a national body promoting adventure and eco-tourism in India, offers valuable resources on adventure travel.