Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rafting on the Ganga

No, don't scroll down looking for photographs - there aren't any.  But do continue to read.  Rafting on the Ganga was one of the highlights of our vacation.

It was totally unexpected.  We weren't planning it at all.  But AEF suggested it out of the blue.  "Why don't you go white water rafting?" she said.  "I'll look after Puttachi."  Even as we looked this way and that, she suggested it to her team of researchers and field assistants, and urged them to go too, and before we knew it, we were a team of eight, and one of them knew an adventure group who arranged a raft for us at a discount, provided us with an extra guide, and everything was settled.

But how about Puttachi?  Would she stay with AEF, whom she barely knows?  I asked Puttachi.  She listened, and she nodded her yes.  That was it.  Granted, part of the attraction of staying back with AEF was that Puttachi was looking forward to spend time with her new friend Himani who lived next door to AEF's field station. ( Himani is a calf, but what is a different species when it comes to friendship?)  But the alacrity with which she accepted was heartening.

But yet, I had a slightly disturbed night.  It was the next level of Letting-go for me.  Yes, AEF is a friend I trust completely, but I would be going rafting.  On the rapids.  On the Ganga.  Without a phone.  So far from home.  Leaving Puttachi.  In a remote little village. 

It helped that both AEF and Puttachi were supremely confident they would manage.  It was only half a day, after all.

And so, off we went.

We drove to Rishikesh, where we left our things in the jeep and parked it near the Adventure guy's shop.  We got into their jeep, loaded the life jackets and paddles in it, and the inflated raft on the roof of the jeep, and drove upstream to Shivpuri, 16 km away.  We drove by the Ganga, next to the very river-route on which  we were to come back rafting. 

Beautiful sights.  Deep green valleys, turquoise green waters, white sands, blue skies.  And the heart beating to the prospect of a never-before adventure.

We reached the spot where we would begin rafting.  We wore life jackets and helmets, and sat in the raft, and then the guide gave us the "training."  He told us how to paddle, how to lock our feet, what to do if we fall out of the raft, what to do if the raft topples.  He also said that there was an 85 pc chance of the raft toppling, and it was here that I started panicking.

We started.  The first two rapids were quite terrifying, and the guide noticed that I seemed afraid.  He probably thought that I would fall out in a panic, so, as we went into the third rapid, he made me sit in front of the raft, hold the rope in both hands, and crouch, with only my head outside the raft.  So basically, I faced the third rapid head on, literally.  And I knew I was safe because I had the rope nice and tight in my fists... my knuckles were white too - so there.  And I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Got tossed about, got completely drenched.  And I wasn't afraid any longer.

And then, it got better.  We reached a stretch of calm water, and here, the guide asked us to just Jump.Into.The.Water.  And guess what, we did it.  Into the Ganga.  It was cold and it was lovely, and it was a 100 feet deep but of course we had on our life jackets.  For a while, we made a human chain and free-floated.  And it was bliss.  And oh, by the way, this is the Ganga, remember?  All my sins have been washed away, mind you. :D  Now, as long as other people's sins haven't come and latched onto me....

After this, I almost hoped the raft would topple in the next few rapids, but they were quite tame.  In fact, one was so mild that it was like riding on the pot-holed roads of Bangalore.

There was even a midway break place, a  Maggi-point.  By the way, if I had a rupee for each Maggi-point I saw all over Uttarakhand....  we stopped here, and ate - what else, Maggi, got the cameras out of the waterproof bag, took some pics, and then continued.

And then finally, we floated under the Ram Jhoola and the famous Lakshman Jhoola, past the Tryambakeshwar temple.  This place is quite beautiful and had a certain atmosphere, and was very clean for a pilgrimage centre.

We ended the ride on a ghat, and I was "reunited" with Puttachi at a restaurant in Rishikesh.  Seriously, I don't think I can thank AEF enough for what she did for me. :) 


Anonymous said...

Sounds absolutely awesome! Cheers for going along with it!


Madhu said...

Shruthi Congrats on this big feat! (Both rafting on the Ganga and leaving Puttachi)
Not sure if I will ever get to do this, but your beautiful description made me feel like I was there. :)

Anitha Rao said...

Wonderful description ... Would like to do the rafting once ... What is AEF ? Are they tour organisers ?

Anonymous said...

Wow , that must have been exhilarating !
The photos in the earlier posts are fantastic ,thanks for sharing info and pics about such beautiful locations; lush with flora and fauna , must have been thoroughly enjoyable and soothing to the eye. Hope Puttachi had a super duper vacation :)

best wishes
god bless

austere said...

What guts!
I wouldnt dare... or would I??

Shruthi said...

Thank you all! Anitha Rao, AEF is what I refer to my friend as - Avian-Encyclopedia Friend.

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