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Old 4th August 2014, 00:20   #1
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Default Sailing through the River of Dreams - A Rafting Expedition in the Ganges!

So you're a couple of months into your newly found first job and with the workload being as low as the amount of sugar in a diabetic's cuppa tea, life, it seemed all hunky dory and going flat out! It was a similar story across the gang and no wonder why we were itching for some adventure then! So what do you do in such a situation? Well, you come together, huddle everything up (including that blanket in the opening picture below!), dump it all in the trunk & simply head out for some fun!

The trunk, packed with just about everything!
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And the tank, filled to the brim!
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Ah, but this time, with a pinch of added excitement and some rush of blood that came along with the thought of doing something like this.

Excitement, as contagious as this!
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It was time to finally attempt what we had been hankering for a long long time now! To get down the valley of fears, to the depths of a river and live our dream! It was time to do it then.

Time for River-Rafting in the Ganges...
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...and then Camping alongside!
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Sounds fun eh...? You bet it was!


This TL dates back to October last year. Due to dearth of time and life been moving in the fast lane ever since, it is finally up here to be shared and the lovely memories be revisited!

It was a weekend getaway, with Monday being an off. The horrid Uttarakhand tragedy had taken place only some months ago and even though Rishikesh was unaffected, we were still in two minds whether to go Rafting during that time or not. Got in touch with a Rafting agency through a friend who had been going to them quite often and after getting some trustworthy reassurance, we decided in the positive.

We left home at 10 on a Saturday night. Plan was to reach Haridwar at around 2 and take a halt before leaving for Rishikesh the next day. Everything went just as per schedule. Reached Haridwar in the middle of the night and started looking for an easy-on-the-pocket, nice, clean Hotel with some parking space. Found one in no time and we immediately crashed!

Sunday Morning-

The excitement of what was lying ahead during the day saw all four of us awake even before time and we swiftly checked out and headed towards Har-ki-Paudi for the Holy dip.

After the divine dip at Haridwar, all charged up and excited for the upcoming adventure! From L-R, A, S and Yours Truly.
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We left from Haridwar at around 9a.m.
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It took us around an hour to reach Rishikesh. Straightaway went to the Rafting agency we had spoken to. We haggled, negotiated and settled for a price of INR 1250 per head inclusive of the following:

-26Kms of Rafting-From Shivpuri, down to Rishikesh
-Sunday's lunch (which we happily skipped for our extended stay in the waters!)
-Sunday night's Camping alongside the river
-Sunday's dinner
-Monday's breakfast

Scrolling back to the above figure to see whether you missed reading another zero at the end?! Well, no you've not! It is INR 1250 indeed, no zeroes missing! Maybe it was just the beginning of the Rafting season or our professional bargaining skills that we managed to get such a price. Whatever it was, it seemed truly VFM and it wonderfully came out to be even more bang for the buck in the end!

Getting Started-

Parked TheLinea at a safe spot in the parking lot situated just across the lane where all the Rafting shops are stationed. With all the luggage locked in the boot, only the Cameras went along with us.

Our boat was being loaded on the roof of a mighty Bolero Camper. Yes, the fun had begun! With the life jackets and the oars kept on the open deck behind, the four of us snugly placed ourselves on the single rear bench of the monster. And it definitely was a bit of a squeeze! The weather on the other hand was superb and the downward views amazing as we climbed our way up turn after turn. There was a small little HiFi player tightly screwed on top of the dash, playing out music that was interesting enough to strike a conversation with both the driver and our raftsman sitting at the front! We had a word-by-word translation from Garhwali to Hindi and some exquisite inputs from our in-house talented lyricists meant we could nominate the modified songs for the Grammys! Amidst all the cross cultural fun, we had already climbed 26 Kms and reached Shivpuri, before our butts could complain any further!

Pulling it down the roof. How hard can it be?!
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Well, quite a bit!
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With all the equipment in hand,
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we trekked our way down to the river bed...
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...and then, kept everything aside to just indulge in the serenity of the breathtaking view!
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Here's introducing C, our meditation Guru! After torturing us with his Diet snacks all through the night drive, Sir finally seem to have found the much sought after peace!
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Teaming up-

Our raftsman, the Captain Haddock of our ship was a fantastic young chap who had been Rafting out of his own passion. And where there's passion involved, there are just no boundaries to the level of fun. He was someone who made the whole experience a phenomenally enjoyable one! Someone who asked us to venture out into the waters as we wanted, but was quick enough to handle and take care when we messed up!
Another bunch of four friends from Dehradun were going to be our boat-mates for the day. The introductions happened fast and it didn't take much time for eight Engineers to gel up and instantly form a team!

We kitted ourselves up with our life jackets and helmets. All the valuables were tied up inside a waterproof bag and it was in-turn tied at the Captain's deck.
One by one we started stepping on to the boat, slotting ourselves in our places and all ready to shout Aye Aye Captain, only to hear that Mr. Haddock had other plans! Prior to going deep sea, we were to undergo a rigorous Military-styled training!

So when the captain would say Forward, we were to row ahead by taking our abdomen forward and then pulling it back along with the oar. Vice-versa when the orders would be Reverse. So we had to twist and shout and continuously keep jiggling our bodies! Looked easy till the time we were being taught, but this came out to be a supremely hard exercise! One's able to perform only a couple of strokes as told technically, and after that it's all chaos and pain in the arms! And to make things worse, when the captain would say Forward Fast, we were to be all guns blazing!

Setting Sail-

After getting graduated to the Lieutenant rank, we were sailing in the middle of the river now, being carried ahead slowly by the calmly flowing water. One look into the skies above and we realized where we were! The rocks stood high on both the sides and we were there, deep down into the valley. The sound of silence was accompanied by a cool breeze and that along with splashes of the cold water sent shivers down to the feet! A cue to break free maybe!

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The calm waters didn't stay the same for long though. More fun began when we encountered the first Rapid. Those areas in the river where the water gushes fiercely, developing strong currents and forming waves on the top surface. It takes good team-work and a great master to get one out of such crests and troughs unscathed. And to make things a bit musical, while nearing one, the otherwise silence of the river gets replaced with a distant and dangerously loud sound of the Rapid(ly) flowing water!

We went into the first Rapid with a bit of fear and uncertainty lurching in the back of our minds over how we'd be able to cross it. There were rocks peeping out of the water as well. I and A were afraid for sure, though C and S looked determined to kill it! The heart was pumping heavily and Mr. Haddock's words to grab and hold on to the safety rope if the boat capsized and anyone got taken away by the currents, made matters only worse! In this moment of anxiety, the names of the Rapids lightened up things quite a bit! All of them have very peculiar names, maybe they're named according to their intensities. The first one was called Butterfly if I recall correctly. Good show by the team and we tamed the beast! Coming out clean definitely instilled some confidence in all of us and also the enthusiasm now went soaring to move ahead and conquer the enemies one by one. Gradually, the fear got completely thrashed and it became more fun tackling the strong currents and after a couple of starters, we were now wanting for even more challenging waves to come our way!

Meanwhile, we jumped out of the boat at another Rapid, where the breadth of the river was relatively wider and hence, the flow was a bit relaxed. Swimming in the water was sheer fun, but getting back onto the boat was not! One has to pull the body up and with the arms being tired after all the rowing, it wasn't easy at all. Gladly, the folks who could make it back, helped others in returning to their respective berths. After all the energy well spent in rowing this far, we took a halt mid-way for some much needed rest and moreover, to let the leftover fears to rest in some peace; forever!

How?! Well, by going ahead and jumping, Van Halen style! Just that this Jump was going to be off a Cliff! A yet another 'How hard can it be moment'!

The view above, from the base!
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C was leaping like a Cheetah to go and do it first, and obviously, no one had any problems with that. Mr. Haddock was there at the edge of the Cliff, guiding everyone how to go about it. I chose to stand down at the base to try and see the impact when others land and then probably muster some courage to go up and do it myself!

C went fearlessly and did it in style! He was relentlessly encouraging everyone to just go and do it. Got a thumbs up from the Captain!
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A got inspired, went ahead next and did this marvelous jump! Setting standards you see!
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S and I went last and were able to pull it off as well! The amusement during a free fall is simply amazing! You've got to do it to feel it! So after the fear now being ripped off completely, each one of us did a couple of more stints at it! All happy and fully exhausted after that, we gobbled up some piping hot Maggi, right there, right then to regain some much needed calories for the last and the final leg ahead.

At the Cliff, with the stream cutting through the rocks at the backdrop.
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The sun had come out bright by this time and the rowing down to Rishikesh had begun. It was more of a laid back journey now, with some occasional sights of folks playing volleyball at some of the camps and many others relaxing and enjoying the sun.

In all, we encountered a total of 18 Rapids until we hit the base. Got off the boat and just like true soldiers, carried it on our shoulders back to the shop where it had all started. An inflated boat is much much heavier than one would expect it to be!

Even though we were all drained out, the experience that we just had was enough to buck us up to quickly change and head out walking for a bite at Chotiwala, a famous vegetarian joint there. By the time we returned, most of the 'joints' in the body were aching and it was dark enough to drive back up to the camp site to finally lay down and get some rest. Talking of the Camps, the friends from Dehradun had given us a strict no-no regarding the ones in which they had been staying. Lack of proper arrangements for food and toilets in their Camps near Shivpuri was enough for us to ask our agency to get us into a better equipped one and our persistence for the same had them relented, and we were promised to be taken to a fabulously clean place with all the arrangements neatly done! And they did stand up to their promise. Kudos to their co-operation and customer service!

We were asked to drive up ourselves to reach to a particular point. It was quite dark by now and we drove very patiently so as to not miss the landmark. The network connectivity was very feeble as well. Thankfully, we reached the spot without any problems and one of their staffers came up to the road immediately to help getting the car parked properly and escort us down through the extremely steep rocky path to the Camp-site.

We reached down to a dimly lit place with the luggage in our hands and besides being able to see a row of Camps, what we heard was simply astounding! The mighty roar of the river! It was D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S-L-Y loud! There was no light at all and anything that we knew of our relative position from the river was a tall metallic sign board demarcating itself to be the dead end on the shore! The timing of our arrival at the Camp kept the curiosity alive all through the night about where exactly and how close to that mighty flow we were!

We requested for the middle two Camps to be given to us and we were obliged.
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We quickly put the bags inside, zipped down the doors back so that no mosquitoes went inside and came outside to relax and enjoy the evening snacks that were to begin! And what a set-up it was to have a cup of one's evening tea!
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And then played around for some while...
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...before going in for this cleanly laid out sumptuous dinner!
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It was almost mid-night and the temperatures outside had dropped dramatically. The day might have ended, but the fun did not! The bonfire was yet to be lit up!
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To be there in that point in time, under a star-studded sky and a river flowing just besides was an experience simply splendid! We played music, talked like there was no tomorrow and pulled a few legs for a couple of hours more, before finally calling it off a day and going inside to doze off and imagining the view we would be waking up to!

Monday Morning-

It was a hard day's night and after a nice, happy sleep, we woke up to see this beautiful landscape!
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The freshness in the air was unbelievable!
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Even the late sleepers couldn't resist coming out of the bed!
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And wash their faces to play a li'l bit of volleyball!
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The Camps were nice and clean on the inside too!
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The time spent there was simply wonderful and we were soaking in as much as we could to take it back with us!

Here's S, trying to strike a pose with the lovely background!
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After all the recreation, we lazily had our breakfast, before someone told us that there was a spot towards the side, where we could go and take a bath in the river! So, this ladies and gentlemen, was the final icing on the cake! Ran towards it, spent a good amount of time in the iced-cold water before we finally said adieu to a beautiful place and a fantastic experience. One that saw many come back stronger after having been able to successfully kick away their puny fears!

How inspiration could be life changing and taking others along to the victory pole was a learning just as important. A Dream fulfilled to the core!

And triumphant, we headed back home!
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Last edited by forester : 17th August 2014 at 02:58.
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Old 20th August 2014, 17:41   #2
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Default re: Sailing through the River of Dreams - A Rafting Expedition in the Ganges!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th August 2014, 18:39   #3
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Default Re: Sailing through the River of Dreams - A Rafting Expedition in the Ganges!

Nice log! Short and crisp. Enjoyed reading it. Refreshed my memory of a trip I made with my buddies on our Bullets, maybe around 8 years back

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All of them have very peculiar names
Even I was surprised to find that the rapids were christned and had some funny names - Three blind mice comes to mind. IIRC "The Wall" is the craziest one of them all and you end with a rapid called the "Golf course".

A request please. Would you mind sharing the route you took and the road conditions all along the way? Thanks!
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Old 21st August 2014, 04:05   #4
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Nice log! Short and crisp. Enjoyed reading it. Refreshed my memory of a trip I made with my buddies on our Bullets, maybe around 8 years back
Thank you very much Urban_Nomad. I'm glad it brought back the lovely memories you had It surely must have been some great fun doing a road trip on your REs!

Quote:
Three blind mice comes to mind. IIRC "The Wall" is the craziest one of them all and you end with a rapid called the "Golf course".
And you nailed it there! Three blind mice it was then! During the course of writing the TL, I strained my memory as hard as I could, but just couldn't recall this name! Thanks for finally letting me know it.
And the other crazy one that I can remember was the 'Roller Coaster', apparently the most dangerous one as well!

Quote:
A request please. Would you mind sharing the route you took and the road conditions all along the way? Thanks!
Sure, here you go We took the NH-58 all the way till Rishikesh. It went like this: Delhi-Ghaziabad-Modinagar-Meerut-Khatauli-Muzaffarnagar-Roorkee-Haridwar-Rishikesh.

The roads till Modinagar are the usual ones you would find in this side of U.P, not so good and not very bad either. After this, the road becomes much better until finally becoming the best once the Toll road or the Khatauli Bypass begins. Then there is a serious bad stretch, I think after Muzaffarnagar as Highway broadening is still going on there and infact at many places, one side of the road is completely excavated. Expect lots and lots of dust and bumps in this portion. Then after Roorkee, it is clear again all the way till Rishikesh.

Seeing overall, the road quality on this highway is a mixed bag. I've heard that there is a Roorkee Bypass as well, though we did not take it. Please check if such a route can be taken as avoiding the cities would be anyday better to stay away from the unwarranted jams that one may get stuck in.
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Old 21st August 2014, 21:14   #5
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It surely must have been some great fun doing a road trip on your REs!

Sure, here you go ...

Then there is a serious bad stretch........
It sure was fun. I particularly remember a village stretch where we got lost. Sense of direction is not really my forte. We were supposed to go over some bridge and instead we went under it. Met with some really bad roads and were in some sort of a village. We approached a "Tau" type person, who was enjoying hukka lying on his "khatiya". He told us to cut through some sugarcane fields and we would meet up with the Haridwar highway.

To date I cant forget that road. Imagine this - a narrow gulli type road, but beautiful black tarmac. Silky smooth, no traffic and no potholes. Cheerful sugarcane fields on either side. It was beautiful!!!

Thanks for the info on the route taken.

Sheeshh!! This roorkee stretch has been horrendous for decades now. Lord knows why it is so difficult to fix it.
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Old 21st August 2014, 22:08   #6
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Wow , it feels so lovely to read this log. Thanks for sharing your experience I first did this stretch about 20 years ago, yup 1994/5 think it was with a close group of friends. This was a pristine area with maybe one camp or two just starting off. We were a part of National adventure federation and did a 2 day course from marine drive to rishikesh for a princely sum of 50 bucks. Food , stay , travel included I think.
College days and we had a blast. How time flies .
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Old 22nd August 2014, 03:48   #7
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Default Re: Sailing through the River of Dreams - A Rafting Expedition in the Ganges!

Congratulations on the completion of your expedition. The pics remind me of my own trip to Papikondalu in A.P few years back. Similar location surrounded by hills, only that there was no oppurtunity for rafting. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 24th August 2014, 16:18   #8
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Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
To date I cant forget that road. Imagine this - a narrow gulli type road, but beautiful black tarmac. Silky smooth, no traffic and no potholes. Cheerful sugarcane fields on either side. It was beautiful!!!

Thanks for the info on the route taken.
Yup, can imagine how beautiful the route would have been! Getting to explore the roads less traveled is always fun!

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Originally Posted by sammyboy View Post
Wow , it feels so lovely to read this log. Thanks for sharing your experience I first did this stretch about 20 years ago, yup 1994/5 think it was with a close group of friends. This was a pristine area with maybe one camp or two just starting off. We were a part of National adventure federation and did a 2 day course from marine drive to rishikesh for a princely sum of 50 bucks. Food , stay , travel included I think.
College days and we had a blast. How time flies .
Thank you very much sammyboy, glad you liked it Twenty years is a long time mate and I agree that things definitely must have been a lot cleaner in those days. College days surely are some of the best and the most enjoyable ones. I miss mine too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoseVijay View Post
Congratulations on the completion of your expedition. The pics remind me of my own trip to Papikondalu in A.P few years back. Similar location surrounded by hills, only that there was no oppurtunity for rafting. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks a lot JoseVijay If you couldn't do Rafting there, you can still search for options around and just go and do it. It's a wonderful experience believe me. Or if you like traveling, why not come up here and do it in the Ganges!
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