Rishikesh: White Waters, Beaches, Adventure and My First Time as a Trip Leader

The rafts were parked on the shore just before the biggest rapid ‘The Wall’.

‘Anyone who is scared or anxious, you can walk on the beach and cross the stretch. You don’t need to raft down. It is not recommended for non-swimmers,’ the guides told us.

I got out of the raft and was walking towards the other one where my entire group stood to check with them. Before I could reach I was told they all were in for it. “We are going to do the Wall. If not now, then when,” they all said in unison. I felt proud. This was a set of complete newbies, first time rafters in this dangerous stretch, and their confidence was unbeatable.

9 out of 10 rafts flip at The Wall or get stuck in the whirlpool after hitting the rocks. But all four of our rafts crossed the huge waves, unharmed, quick. It was over in a matter of seconds. We had crossed the biggest rapid on the Ganga without coming anywhere close to flipping or getting stuck. The confidence level had just received a huge boost.

By the time the rafting ended at Shivpuri after completing a 28 km stretch, we saw the usual rafters getting into the boats to raft till Rishikesh. ‘It’s kids play,’ we thought, having just finished the longest and most difficult stretch on the Ganga. It was past 2 in the afternoon. Over 4 hours had passed, the energy levels had not gone down. Our spirits were soaring high.

When my Masters ended two years back, I had two options in my head for the career path to be chosen. One, move to Mumbai and implement what I learnt in college to make a career in the media industry. Two, start a travel startup and lead people on trips to satiate my lust for travel. I chose the first as it looked easier of the two and I was prepared academically for it. I got a good job in a media company and had lots of fun for a year. The second option was lurking quietly all the while in the back of my head. 6 months ago I quit the job with no plan in hand.

Since then I have met a lot of travellers who inspired me beyond how I could have ever imagined. They pushed me to go ahead and try out what I have wanted to do for so long. They gave their expertise and support. I finally decided to take the risk. I needed to try it before I could decide if I can do it or not. So I went ahead and put up a weeklong trip plan at the start of 2017. No one turned up. The first attempt failed miserably. Jokes were made. People laughed. I laughed it off. I knew I had to give it another try. And so I designed the Rishikesh itinerary for the Good Friday long weekend. The trip got fully booked more than a week before it was to begin.

On 13th April night, twelve trippers from across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Meerut, Delhi and Spain, met in Connaught Place to go on this much awaited trip. It was to be three days of camping in the midst of nature with adventure at every turn. A trek to reach the campsite located in the middle of nowhere, stay in tents next to the flowing Ganga, a private waterfall to dip in for as long as one wished, jumping off a cliff into the flowing river, climbing up a steep rock and rappelling down it, four hours of white water rafting, and all of it in the best spirit of adventure. Limited mobile connectivity. Limited electricity. Loads of stars. Chilly waters. Absolute bliss.

The 3 days went by in the blink of an eye. Our tired bodies craved for sleep, but we wouldn't head into the tents till late in the night and instead sit at the white sand beach playing games, making stories, having the weirdest conversations, and lots of fun. Fears were overcome. People were dunked in the waters. The biggest rapid on the Ganga was crossed by newbie rafters. It was a set of people from different backgrounds, different cultures, (and different countries) with just one thing in mind- let's do some crazy adventures and have loads of fun in the short time we are together- something that I had to ensure happens. When expectations have been set, they ought to be met.

The long weekend also came with its set of disadvantages. Our plan of one evening got disrupted due to the massive traffic jam on the Rishikesh road. When nothing seemed to be going right and we satiated our hunger with some spicy masala Maggi and Coke, the best conversations happened. We sat outside our tents and played games without realizing how the hours passed.

On the way back to Delhi, although we remained stuck in traffic jams for several hours, the spirits didn’t see any dampening. The faltering music system in the tempo traveler became our 2-minute commercial break from the games, singing and dancing. Our old Sardar driver, who had been the most caring throughout the trip, joined in the fun with his once in a while Punjabi dialogues.

One of the SD cards with the entire video footage of the rafting was lost in the bus. An intricate six hour search later, the dreaded card was found. The joy that was visible on the face of every single tripper in that moment summed up the success of the trip for me. Here were 12 people, most of whom didn’t know each other until 3 days back, sharing the sadness and the joy together, exchanging contact numbers, connecting on social media, making promises of staying in touch and planning the next trip. I just sat there looking at everyone and smiled as the sun went down colouring the sky scarlet on the Muzaffarnagar bypass.

The Rishikesh story was now complete, but it was perhaps just the start of a long journey.

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  1. Amazingly described... Moments revived.. 😇😇

  2. Great write up! Unfortunately the most funny moments can't be told in a public post for risk of being banned forever for being too gross... hahahah

  3. One of the best trips I ever had. I am glad I was a part of this trip.


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