Rishikesh in northern Uttarakhand is known for its tranquility, spirituality, and peace. People come to the Yoga Capital Of The World to get in touch with their spiritual selves. But Rishikesh is also the place where you can explore adventure activities. Cliff diving, rock climbing, bungee jumping...what have you, this is also the place for an adrenaline rush!
One such experience that can satiate adventure lovers is river rafting in Rishikesh.
River rafting basically is navigating a river with oars in a raft (an inflatable boat) with a group. This is an experience for everyone and for those who shy away from trying anything extreme, rafting is like taking baby steps to the world of adventure and having a lot of fun while at it.
River rafting in Rishikesh is the most sought-after activity and you’ll find boards all over town which makes it that much harder to skip. What makes this a must-do in Rishikesh is the mighty Ganga. The waters of the holy River Ganga around Rishikesh have a forceful flow and is choppy with a number of rapids along the course of the trail which raises the difficulty and makes it equally thrilling.
There are four stretches or courses of river rafting in Rishikesh. Each rafting grade is determined based on the rapids or obstacles in their path which make it easy, moderate, or difficult. You can choose between any rafting session depending on personal choice and endurance.
Length - 8 km
Duration - 2 to 2.5 hours
This has Grade I/II rapids. Also the shortest and easiest rafting course with zero obstacles and a clearer path. It starts from Brahampuri to Ram Jhula and is suited for beginners, families, and seniors. Rafting here is a sport that can be enjoyed across age groups from ages 7 to 65. To add to that, you need no prior rafting skills or need to know swimming! Just pay attention as your guide advises you on rafting techniques and you’re ready!
The Grade I stretch is more of a fun boat ride with a few enjoyable rapids named Sweet Sixteen, Jail No Bail, Double Trouble, and Hilton. Your rafting guide explains the meaning behind the name just as you are about to hit the rapid because once you cross it, it makes you go "aah that name makes sense!"
Length - 18 km
Duration - 3 to 3.5 hours
This river rafting trip from Shivpuri to Laxman Jhula is Grade II/III, meaning a medium to difficult course. It’s preferred by beginners and those who want to have a rafting adventure but are also short on time. This rafting stretch too has its share of interestingly named rapids like Roller Coaster, Return To Sender, Golf Course, and Club House.
As compared to Brahampuri, the Shivpuri course is not obstacle-free and has irregular waves, which, however, can be easily maneuvered by following the simple instructions of your rafting guide and teamwork. Non-swimmers can opt for this course too.
Length - 27 km
Duration - 4.5 to 5 hours
The course from Marine Drive to Rishikesh has Grade II/III rapids, similar to Shivpuri. But as the distance is greater, so are the number of rapids on the way which only add to the physical strain as well as the level of thrill!
Mostly preferred by individuals from 20 to 35 years, the Marine Drive course also allows you to try body surfing and enjoy cliff jumping along with rafting. Body surfing is just floating on the waters of the Ganges with the help of your life jacket. Hold on to the rope that connects you to your raft, lest you literally ‘float away’!
Cliff jumping is another adventure sport that you can try here. The height of the cliff is just about right; it lets you feel that rush as you jump and hit the water without it being too scary or dangerous. We’ve all seen in movies people jump off cliffs into the ocean and wonder what it feels like. The best part: you need not stop at one jump. As the rafting course is long, there’s a break and that’s when the ones who haven’t had enough can go jump a cliff!
The most interesting rapid on this route is the Three Blind Mice. The waters are pretty still for a stretch till the instructor warns you to be alert and not be fooled by the calmness and that’s when you hit three rapids, one after the other in succession.
The other famous rapid on the Marine Drive is CrossFire, a Grade III rapid. Although it may seem intensive compared to the other two, Marine Drive is a great choice even for beginners. It does need more physical endurance but no previous experience or swimming skills. So if you can spare the time and want to experience river rafting in Rishikesh for what it actually means, then this should be your choice.
Length - 37 km
Duration - 8 to 9 hours
The course from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh is the longest and the most challenging. This stretch has Grade I to Grade IV rapids: 13 of them! Along with rocks, high and irregular waves definitely put your strength, willpower, and endurance to the test.
To complete this course, you’d need prior rafting experience as it surely comes in handy to maneuver the harder, irregular but exciting rapids. All you adventure enthusiasts, if you’ve rafted before and want a day well spent with adrenaline mighty Ganga, then this one’s for you. However, a point to make note of would be that this course is run only when the water is relatively at a higher level as otherwise it would not be possible to complete this stretch in a day.
Your Rishikesh rafting adventure won’t be possible in the monsoon season as the level and the intensity of the water increase, making it dangerous. Rishikesh rafting season is from October to May. Depending on the monsoon season, it’s open till the 15 of June and starts again by the last week of September but do not plan your Rishikesh trip too close to the rainy season as the weather is always unpredictable.
The cost of river rafting packages varies depending on the course you choose and ranges from INR 500 to INR 2,500 per person. The tour operators do offer discounts for large groups (families/ corporate groups). River rafting expeditions do not need to be booked in advance, however it helps to have researched online for tour operators and if you have a time crunch so as to avoid running into last-minute problems and disappointments.
Yes, river rafting in Rishikesh is allowed, and it is in fact one of the most popular places in India for this adventure sport.
As Rishikesh is a holy city, consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food is prohibited here.
Tapovan is arguably the best area to stay in Rishikesh, thanks to the many hotels dotted around it, and its proximity to the Lakshman Jhula.
If you’re looking for hotels in Rishikesh, check out Unstumbled’s curated list of the best hotels in the city.
If you get river rafting packages from reputed clubs, it isn’t dangerous, especially if you’re rafting along the Grade I stretches and follow the instructor’s advice and orders.
If you’re going with a reputable river rafting club that provides life jackets and with a qualified instructor, river rafting can be safe for non-swimmers.
If you’re visiting Rishikesh for river rafting, then October to mid-November is the best time to visit as it is the rafting season; otherwise, you should visit Rishikesh between March and May.
Yes, cab services like Ola and Uber are available in Rishikesh.
About 3-4 days should be sufficient for you to visit Rishikesh and engage in the many activities the town has to offer. The places you must visit are the Lakshman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Jumpin Heights bungee jumping, The Beatles Ashram, Rajaji National Park, and Shivpuri.
You can stay at Geeta Bhawan for free. This ashram is located beside the River Ganga and has over 1,000 rooms for guests to stay.
No, Rishikesh doesn’t experience snowfall, though the weather can get chilly in the winter months (average minimum temperature is 14°C). If you want to enjoy the snow, consider places like Mussoorie (74 km away) or Auli (193 km away).