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 self. But Rishikesh is also the place where you can explore your adventurous self. This is what makes Rishikesh a place for every soul!
One such experience that can satiate your thirst for thrill and adventure and a must-do is river rafting in Rishikesh.
What is White Water Rafting/River Rafting?
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 Ganga around Rishikesh have a forceful flow and is choppy with a number of rapids along the course of the trail which raise the difficulty and make it equally thrilling.
Rafting Stretches In Rishikesh
There are four stretches or courses of river rafting in Rishikesh. These are graded based on the rapids or obstacles in their path which make it easy, moderate, or difficult. You can choose between them depending on personal choice and endurance.
Length – 8 km
Duration – 2 to 2.5 hours
This is a Grade I / II stretch. 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 is a sport that can be enjoyed across age groups from ages 7 to 65.
The Grade I stretch is more of a fun boat ride with a few rapids named Sweet Sixteen, Jail No Bail, Double Trouble, and Hilton. Your instructor 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!”
This stretch 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 an adventure experience but are also short on time. This stretch too has its share of interestingly named rapids like Roller coaster, Return To Sender, Golf House, 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 ride instructor 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 is a Grade II/III stretch, 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 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 skill. 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 covers a total of 13 rapids ranging from Grade I to Grade IV; along with rocks, high and irregular waves that definitely put your strength, willpower, and endurance to test.
To complete this course, you’d need prior rafting experience as it surely comes in handy to maneuver the harder, irregular rapids. So if you’ve rafted before and want a day well spent with adrenaline and adventure in the 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.
Best Time For River Rafting In Rishikesh
River rafting is shut in Rishikesh during the monsoon season as the level and the intensity of the water increases which makes it dangerous. So the best time to experience river rafting in Rishikesh 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 trip too close to the rainy season as the weather is always unpredictable.
Cost Of River Rafting In Rishikesh
The cost of river rafting varies depending on the course you choose and ranges from INR 500 to INR 2500 per person. The tour operators do offer discounts for large groups (families/ corporate groups). River rafting does 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.
Is River Rafting Allowed In Rishikesh?
Yes, river rafting in Rishikesh is allowed, and it is in fact one of the most popular places in India for this adventure sport.
Is Non Veg Banned In Rishikesh?
As Rishikesh is a holy city, consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food is prohibited here.
Which Is The Best Area To Stay In Rishikesh?
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.
River rafting in Rishikesh isn’t dangerous, especially if you’re rafting along the Grade I stretches and follow the instructor’s advice and orders.
Is River Rafting Safe For Non Swimmers?
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.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Rishikesh?
If you’re visiting Rishikesh for river rafting, then October to mid-November is the best time to visit; otherwise, you should visit Rishikesh between March and May.
Is Ola Available In Rishikesh?
Yes, cab services like Ola and Uber are available in Rishikesh.
How Many Days Are Enough For 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, The Beatles Ashram, Rajaji National Park, and Shivpuri.
Where Can I Stay In Rishikesh For Free?
You can stay at Geeta Bhawan for free. This ashram is located beside the Ganges and has over 1000 rooms for guests to stay.
Is There Snowfall In Rishikesh?
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) or Auli (193 km).