Rishikesh – Silver sands of Holy Ganges
|A view from the top of a hillock
One of the most famous adventurous destinations, the well known Rishikesh doesn’t need any dance of words for intro. This place is located on the head of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills besides mighty Ganges. Rafting, Zipping, trekking, Bungee jumping and para gliding are some of the adventure activities you will get to experience here. Rishikesh is commercialised town mainly for tourists. Most of the people in and around Rishikesh comes here to spend there weekend in these silver shores of Ganges. The whole place was flooded with DL or UK registered cars when we visited. We started from Delhi at night and it was a over night drive. We reached Rishikesh at morning 7 am, perfect time to enter this place. On the way to Haridwar there is a bridge where cops will check the nooks and corners of your car for liquor bottles. After that check post the liquors are not allowed because Haridwar is considered as one of the famous religious destination, added it is possible to get through if you are smart enough to crack the cops.
|Heading to Camp site
One of my friend Divyesh personally knew a camp owner, so we headed straight to the camp. Most of the stay comes as a package with a adventure activity which you can customise according to your needs. Our plan was precisely to do rafting, camping, party at night on the river bank, have a good sleep at night and drive back next day. For obvious reasons I kept my personal priorities as Rafting, A Dive in Ganges, Sunset and sunrise(Obviously) at that place. We had a buffet type continental breakfast and parathas which was delicious. Since our appetites where accelerated with beer, we ate like a horse. After relaxing for half an hour we drove to the point were rafting starts. At the starting point one person welcomed us and registered our names for rafting. He started giving us instructions, geared us up and showed us the voice signals to use while rafting. It was more of a crash course. Many videographers and photographers were roaming around to film us while rafting. It will cost you around Rs 1500 for a video. We opt not to make a business with them. We geared up and step in to our raft, 2 teams where there in our raft including us and the guide. After settling down, everyone in the raft started cheering loudly “Jai mada di”(Cheers for Goddess) and the guide pushed on the rock with his oar and we started moving down.
|Gearing up for rafting
Keeping apart my massive expectations, my first rafting experience was mind boggling and it did gave me adrenaline rush in rapids. There are may types of waves and swirls you will encounter when your are rafting down the way. The most dangerous ones are called rapid. Big rapids can hit on the front tip of raft flipping the raft upside down and small rapids can take your raft perpendicular. The guide was shouting at us to keep rowing and swaying for a better experience. At times guide deliberately hit the raft to stones and will stay there for some minutes suggesting us to jump in to Ganges and take a swim. A rope was tied to the raft, we can hold on to that while jumping in to the river. Even if I was bit scared, with the belief in my life jacket I gave a try jumping in to deep Ganges. The ice cold water from glacier will make any one scream there lungs out on first jump. It took around 1.5 hours to raft 16 kms. Our bodies were craving for some nutrition when we reached the finishing point. At the end point there are lot of small shops where you can have Maggi and lemon water we had both added it was expensive. Then they took us in a van and came back to the starting point were our car was parked and we drove back to our camp.
|Arun diving to Ganges(See the orange rope tied to those rocks)
Note: Its very important to follow guide rules and wear life jackets before going to Ganges. The water flow is so aggressive that it can kill you drowning. One girl was taken away by the river near to our camp, she went to Ganges without life jacket.
|At the end point of Rafting
Camp welcomed us with delicious non-veg lunch. We gobbled down what ever we got in hand and went again for a short nap. When I woke up, my friends where playing volley ball on those silver sands. It was a stress relieving first glance straight from sleep. Those silver sands, Volley ball court and the loud laughs, which gave me vibes of another world away from all those societal hoax’s. I joined them and had a quick warm up for the bonfire party which was planned for night. The innkeepers already set up chairs, table and night lamp alongside of Ganges for the bonfire party. I think there is no place in this world where you will get such an ambiance for bonfire which will sim you down and unlax (at least to me for that time being). We sat there boozing up with some beer and a bottle of vodka for around 5 hours. It was around 2 am, then the feeling of night camping started to sync in. Clear bluish dark sky with twinkling stars, silver sands reflecting the blue sky and the huge mountains standing heads up all around. The whole scene is still a snapshot in my mind which I can catch hold of and smile. My friend Arun came and gave me an groundbreaking idea of sleeping outside the tent at night. He made a sand bed with a bed sheet over it alongside of river. Off coarse with such ambiance anyone who loves nature would love to sleep on those silver sands. I laid there and I remember, stars were sneaking from position to position and I kept staring at them with my tipsy eyes and deep thoughts gradually slipping in to sleep. Morning I woke up early and I could see crack of dawn with a spectacular aurora. I could feel the rays of sunshine grooving in from my chilled toss to knees to hips to neck pulling my eyes wide open wishing me a good morning with an astonishing view(Thanks to Arun for getting me this idea). I was lucky that I didn’t missed the sunset and the sun rise at Rishikesh.
|A snap of our camp at night. Bonfire, beer and bone chilling breeze
The tent was having latrine but not bath rooms, so Ganges was our last resort for bath which was a nice like there is no option other than awesome. We took swims at mornings evenings and in between. There are many spots where you can dive in to the river catching hold of a rope tied to the rocks. I am a person who hates free falls and I hesitate to do long dives which I am gonna change it in near future :-p. One of my friend Divyesh was crazy enough to take a summer sort from heights and Arun too. Rohit(Dude who saved me from getting trolled for not diving) was actually clinging on to rocks wetting below his neck. I was brave enough :-p to jump in for a swim holding that rope but didn’t had the gut to dive.
|View of sun rise from our camp
We started our drive back to Delhi at morning 11 and we reached Delhi at night 8. Rishikesh is a one of the rare places where it is commercialised in one hand and in other hand its very pragmatic to any type of people. Its the perfect place for those who seeks adventure and also for families who wants to still and chill. The food and stay is also not that expensive, but at times in some season it goes high. October-November are the seasons which the adventure seekers mostly pitch in because this is the best time for rafting as they can encounter aggressive rapids in Ganges and perfect ambience in woods. No matter what, Rishikesh is not going to let you down. Nobody will return from Rishikesh without having some screaming memories and dazzling vistas to cherish.
|Lunatics back form Rishikesh
Cheat sheet for those who are planning for Rishikesh.
- Adventure Activities – Rafting, Zipping, Group Zipping, Camping, Trekking, Para gliding, Bungee Jumping and exploring.
- Try to take tents which is in off beat sides of river so that you will be served good and you can avoid the crowd.
- Make sure you are not missing sun rise and sunset at this place.
- Follow the rules and suggestions from locals and Guides. It is true and It does matters.
- If possible at evening you can go to Haridwar and witness Arthi given to Ganges which is a very famous offering performed every day at evening in Har-ki-pauri ghats.(I missed it).
- Check your bathrooms before taking camps and check weather they allow swimming in Ganges.
- Nowadays its even hearing that the camps has been removed for reducing the pollution in Ganges. So it will be good of you can give it a check before hitting the place.