According to a study conducted in October 2016 related to Adventure sports activities in India, Uttarakhand is the largest revenue generating state considering both domestic and international customers. Rishikesh also known as the Adventure Capital of India lures most of the adventure tourists in Uttarakhand. White water rafting is the sole attraction that magnetizes thrill chasers from all over the world. Few other adventure activities that also get the attention of adventurers in Rishikesh are bungee jumping, zip line, cliff jumping and camping.
Recently, I went on a weekend trip from Delhi to Rishikesh to experience the white water rafting along with camping. It took only about 2 days including the travel to and fro the two cities with 6-7 hours of one sided travel.
On arrival, I could see the mushrooming river rafting industry when the auto rickshaw drivers started shadowing us for river rafting, ready to close the deal on the blink of an eye. Unconcerned about the seriousness and risk involved in the river rafting activity, they were selling it like tea and biscuits. It is evident that in recent years, innumerable entities have burgeoned all over Rishikesh to cater to the young crowd coming to Rishikesh to enjoy rafting and camping.
My experience with Camping: In Rishikesh, various types of camping services are available from luxury camps to budget ones. Hundreds of ghetto tents are set in the villages of Rishikesh on the terraced fields by the side of the rivulets. These tents were equipped with beds with very basic facilities like sleeping bags or quilts with shared lavatories. Some may find these facilities unhygienic as most of the facilities are for budget trips and are mostly undertaken by college students. Spending some time in rivulets in the evening was another joyful experience. Cold water rolled through these babbling brooks where tourists frolicked and soaked themselves and later spent the evening playing badminton and volley ball matches, enjoyed bonfire accompanied by deep oil fried pakoras and hot tea served at the camp. After a few hours dinner was served with lip smacking spicy North Indian food like mixed vegetables, a hot and spicy chicken curry, steamed rice and chapatis baked in a Tandoor that could easily upset a vulnerable stomach.
The inside of the tents were not provided with lights so I double checked for any crawlies inside and zip the tents firmly to ensure no such creature sneak in.
On the rafting day, in morning, tourists were served with tea and breakfast which mainly comprised of poori and bhaji and scrambled eggs. Thereafter we headed for white water rafting in the Ganges. This part of the trip was quite well organised. The rafting guides picked up the tourists and too them straight to Shivpuri from where the rafting trip commenced. All the adventurers were provided with rafting gear- life jackets, helmets and oars which the guide ensured tight and secure after they were put on by the rafters. The rafting experience was one of the most thrilling one and for beginners on adventure activity; it is the best to start with. The guide gave a verbal demonstration on rafting and awareness on rapids to the group before the onset of the journey but it was very short and most of the group members struggled to follow it throughout the journey.
The team handed over their electronic belongings to the guide to keep them safe in the water proof bag secured with the raft. The rafting started with an overwhelming excitement among the rafters. The raft leisurely sailed on the river and the rafters with little force pushed the waters back. Then came the battling against the tumultuous rapids to keep the raft upright and gradually brought it across. The experience was exceptionally electrifying while rafting. As we pushed the raft through the gushing waters of the Ganges and felt the cool breeze on my face and through the hair. The nine rapids starting from Shivpuri were of mostly Grade II and Grade III classes and were all overcome with great vigour from the team members. A taste of swaying in the rapid waters and body surfing for about 3 km was also enjoyed by the team. While jumping into the river by clinging to the flip line rope one of the team members got a cut on his hand. While crossing the next rapid, I accidentally hit the handle of the oar right on my lips and received slit. Although, these injuries were not so serious but little did we know that there was no first aid facility available with the guide. After about 3 more km we safely reached Rishikesh.
Although this was my first rafting experience which was extremely enthralling, I would recommend tourists to experience rafting at least once in their lifetime. At the same time I also feel that the service providers could improve upon the facilities by providing clean and hygienic camps, healthy food, first aid facilities, good quality equipment and better rafting demonstration.