The challenge of the turbulent rivers is no less than that of the rugged mountains. The icy heights of the Himalayas are the source of some of India's mighty rivers. Fed by innumerable streams they race along tortuous boulder strewn beds, cutting deep gorges and breaking into silvery white rapids.
With the intricate network of mountain rivers flowing through a myriad of different colours of rocky gorges, forests, flowers and high mountain villages, the Garhwal and Kumaon hills provide ideal locales for the perfect water adventure.
The sport of white water river rafting calls for a triumph over the swift swirling river as it gushes past spectacular mountains. It is practised mainly in the upper reaches where the water is wild and white as it frothes and foams, crashing against narrow gorges, rocky outcrops and falls at deep gradients.
As with trekking, mountaineering and other sports, river rafting too has been classified and graded in terms of degrees of difficulty.
There is, firstly, the pleasure of a gentle canoe trip in a lightweight alloy-metal craft which holds two to three people. The gradient best suited for canoeing is the stage near the river's entry into the plains where the trip can be combined with moderate hiking and a naturalist holiday in the forest. For this, the suitable area are Rishikesh, Dakpathar and the Ramganga in Corbett National Park. For the slightly more adventurous, kayaking is appealing as it is tandem. The degree of difficulty would depend on the river gradient and its rapids.
The suitable period for river running depends on the adequacy of water volume. Thus September-November and March-April-May are most appropriate. The equipment required is ordinary outdoor gear, goggles, antiseptic cream and a liking for getting wet!
In Garhwal region the sacred river Ganga offers the professional as well as the amateur the exhilaration of white water rafting. The Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, are the main tributaries of the Ganga and meet at Devprayag, frothing from their racy descent. Their waters are of Grade IV to V, challenging the expert to savour the thrill.
Down river from Devprayag, the Ganga changes into a pool drop river. This stretch of almost 70 km is perfect for amateur and the novice, for here the river offers some fine Grade III rapids and two Grade IV 'GOLF COURSE', 4 km below Shivpuri village; each followed by rapids, the 'WALL' at Byasi and the deep and placid pools.
Sandy beaches line the river at intervals, allowing river rafters to pull up alongside. The slopes on either side are covered with oak, pine, spruce and fur, with the occasional village and its terraced fields dotting the landscape. Wildlife is visible at a distance, comprising mainly of spotted deer, monkey, leopard, while multi-hued butterflies fit among flowering bushes. Spiritual retreats and ashrams overlook the river and add to the spiritual experience.
Barkot to Bernigad - Both professional and tourist stretch.
Damta to Yamuna Bridge - Both professional and tourist stretch.
Yamuna bridge to Juddo 9kms run tourist stretch.
Moori to Khoonigad 9km run both porfessionals and tourist stretch.
Rudraprayag to Dhari Devi-17 kms run.
Bagwan to Deoprayag-17 kms run.
Deoprayag to Kaudiyala-30 kms run.
Kaudiyala to Marine Drive-11 kms run.
Marine Drive to Shivpuri-12 kms run.
Shivpuri to Rishikesh-14 kms run.
Jangla to Jhala - 20 km. Both professional and tourist stretch.
Matli to Dunda - 12 km. Both professional and tourist stretch.
Ghansali to Gadolia 32 km. Professional stretch.
Chandrapuri to Rudraprayag 26 km. Professional stretch.