Best Destinations For River Rafting In India
Whether it’s tackling the ferocious rapids or befriending the heavy, gushing, swirling flow of water, white water rafting is definitely not for the weak-hearted. Although there are different levels of difficulty to this sport and one can choose their preference of rapids, rafting is meant for those who love getting under water, are passionate about swimming and are fit enough to go with the flow. Rafting as a sport has been popular in India since some time, especially in northern India. However, it is now slowly catching up in the south, west and east of India too. For the benefit of those who are experimenting with this sport for the first time, please go through the Grade table below to understand what you may have to deal with, depending on the grade of rapids you choose.
Grade 1: Easy, small waves. No obstacles.
Grade 2: Moderate difficulty with clear passages.
Grade 3: Difficult, high irregular waves, narrow passages requiring precise manoeuvring.
Grade 4: Difficult, powerful waves. Very precise manoeuvring required.
Grade 5: Extremely difficult, violent, highly obstructed.
So get your gear in place and get ready to have the time of your life !
Here are a few of the best locations for river rafting in India.
Rishikesh – Uttarakhand
The river Ganga is one of the best places to experience white water rafting in India. Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, the river stretches 16 km from Shivpuri to Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh and one can enjoy the beauty of these magnificent hills, the Garhwal valleys surrounding the river and the white sand river beaches. Suitable for even newcomers to river-rafting, this stretch sports plenty of rapids ranging from grade 1 to grade 4 and is exciting with many whirlpools. The 13 rapids along this river stretch have been named quirkily with titles like Roller Coaster, Three Blind Mice, Double Trouble, Return to Sender etc.
Best time to visit : September to June
How to reach :
By air – Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun is the closest to Rishikesh with flights coming in from Delhi and Lucknow only. Thereafter, taxi or bus services are available from Rishikesh to Dehradun.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Haridwar which receives trains from various major cities. One can travel by bus or taxi to Rishikesh from here.
By bus – Buses come in regularly from Delhi, Haridwar and Dehradun. AbhiBus has buses plying from Delhi to Rishikesh too.
Bhagirathi River – Uttarakhand
With rapids of grade 3 and 4, white water rafting in the 150 km stretch of the Bhagirathi river is surely an exhilarating experience. The river, along this course, runs through two parallel mountains giving us a view of some spectacular landscape and has turbulent waters with rushing streams that are quite challenging. The rapids here again have interesting names like Elephant Rock, Sharp S, The Chute etc. Two of the best rapids of the Ganges that can be experienced here is the Daniel’s Dip and The Wall.
Best time to visit: October to Mid-May
How to reach :
By air – One can fly into Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun from Delhi or Lucknow and take the bus to Bhagirathi river which is 230 kms from Rishikesh.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Rishikesh.
By bus – Bhagirathi has good motorable roads connecting it to Rishikesh and Haridwar. State run buses are also available.
Zanskar – Ladakh
The Zanskar river, located at a height of 12000 feet above sea level, is one of its kind for the simple fact that you can trek on this river during the winters and indulge in some exhilarating white water rafting during the summer. But rafting in this river with its swirling grade 3 and grade 4 rapids, combined with the icy cold water, is definitely not for the faint-hearted! This Padum and Nimmo stretch leaves you spellbound with magnificent views of snow-peaked mountains, the hillside Zanskar villages, hilltop monasteries and breathtaking landscape along this course. This rafting route ends as the river merges with the Indus.
Best time to visit: July to August, river is frozen rest of the year.
How to reach :
By air – The nearest airport is at Leh, which has flights coming in from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. One can hire taxis from here to transport you to Zanskar.
By train – Jammu Tavi is the nearest railway station which is very well connected to several major cities across the country. Taxis and buses are available from here to take you across to Zanskar.
By Bus – Buses ply from Jammu to Zanskar.
Indus River – Ladakh
Rafting in the Indus, which is one of the longest rivers in Asia, makes for a thrilling and unforgettable experience, where you enjoy rapids of grade 1 and 2 as well as tackle really challenging rapids ranging from grade 3 to 5. The water level during the peak period swells greatly, making it really enjoyable for rafting enthusiasts. The most challenging stretch lies between Alchi and Khalsi where one has to tackle a kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. Rafting in the Indus river, also called ‘Singhe Khababs’ or ‘Out of the Lion’s mouth’ becomes an even more cherished memory with the mesmerising view of the ice clad valleys while rafting.
Best time to visit: June to August
How to reach :
By air – The nearest airport is at Leh, which has flights coming in from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. One can hire taxis from here to transport you to your destination.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Jammu which is very well connected to several major cities across the country. Taxis and buses are available from here to take you across to your location.
By Bus – Buses ply between the main towns and villages within Ladakh and one can hire different vehicles to ferry you across to the more inaccessible areas.
Barapole River – Coorg
The Barapole river, crossing through Coorg, in southern India is another exciting place for river rafting. This river can be classified in two sections – the upper section which has 4 to 5 rapids and the lower section which has 6 to 7 rapids and provides much thrill and enthusiasm for an experienced rafter as the rapids range right from grade 2 to grade 7, depending on the level of water. Some interesting names of the rapids, which amuse rafters are Ramba Samba, Morning Coffee, Grasshopper, The Wicked Witch and so on. Flowing down the Western Ghats, right through the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, one is treated to wonderful visuals of the Deccan Plateau, tropical rainforests and sandalwood forests.
Best time to visit: June to September
How to reach :
By air – The nearest domestic airport is the Mangalore International Airport. One can travel in a taxi or bus from here to Coorg.
By train – The nearest railway station is in Mysore, 95 kms away.
By bus – One can opt for the KSRTC deluxe buses or bus services offered by Private Operators plying from Bengaluru, Mysore and Mangalore.
AbhiBus also offers bus services from Bengaluru, Mysore and Chennai to Coorg.
Kolad – Maharashtra
Declared as one of the fastest flowing rivers, the Kundalika river enters Kolad where a dam is constructed and this greatly controls the descent, turbulence and ferocity of the raging river. Gushing along the picturesque Sahyadris, with stimulating rapids ranging between grades 3 and 4, this 15 km stretch has become quite a favourite rafting destination for adventure enthusiasts. As also for the fact that this may be the only destination where river rafting is possible throughout the year. However, the excitement is at its peak when the river is full during or just after the monsoons.
Best time to visit: Though rafting can be indulged in almost throughout the year, June to September or October would be the best time, as the river would be full after the monsoons.
How to reach :
By air – Lohegaon Airport at Pune is closest.
By train – Regular trains to Kolad are available from major cities of the country. There is a direct train from Mumbai to Kolad too.
By bus – There are no bus routes from other cities to Kolad. The nearest bus stand is at Murud.
Brahmaputra River – Arunachal Pradesh
This rafting expedition which extends for almost a week, in one of the most sacred rivers of the country is best enjoyed by experienced rafters and adventure enthusiasts. White water rafting in the ferocious and mighty Brahmaputra river starts at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh and ends at Pasighat after a 180 km stretch. Rapids such as Toothfairy, Pulsating Pulsi and such are rated as grade 4 to 6 and can be quite challenging and tricky even for veteran rafters. Passing remote hillsides with small tribal villages amidst thick rainforests, stunning landscapes and Arunachal’s virgin beauty just heighten the pleasure of river rafting in this region.
Best time to visit: November to March
How to reach :
By air – The nearest airport is Lilabari Tezpur Airport in Assam which is connected to Kolkata. A few flights come in regularly to these destinations from some major cities of the country.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Harmuty while the most convenient rail head is at North Lakhimpur in Assam.
By bus – The Naharlagun Bus Station is 10 km away from Itanagar and well connected with bus services to Guwahati, Ziro, Shillong, Bomdila and North Lakhimpur.
Picture Credits : Rishikesh – Alaknanda River Adventure Camp, Bhagirathi River – Free Press Journal, Zanskar – Run The World, Indus River – Pristine Ladakh, Barapole River – excitingindia.in, Kolad – Tripoto,
Brahmaputra River – The Outdoor Voyage