We drove down to Rishikesh on a Saturday morning with the ungodly aim of seeking adventure rather than washing off our sins. There are certain holy rules that are thrust upon you in Rishikesh. You will not find meat or alcohol anywhere in the city. At least legally. So we, a group of five weekend bachelors, stayed in Dehradun – around 45km north – to quench our unholy thirst and hunger.
We could see young couples, office groups and college kids everywhere. In fact, it was as if every able-bodied man and woman in the town had only one thing on their mind- rafting.
We settled for the Shivpuri-Rishikesh stretch for our adventure. The distance of 16km would take us around 3 hours in a raft full of excited bodies. We paid Rs800 per person for the ride. The rapids or the turbulent pockets along the stretch are graded and some of the names of these rapids are rather self-explanatory. Others not so. These include relative easy grade 1 rapids such as Body Surfing, Sweet Sixteen ad grade 2 ones named Hilton and Double Trouble. But the ones that scare the hell out are the rather appropriately named Roller Coaster, Return to Sender and the Golf Course.
The roar of the waves and the sudden speed the boats gained as we approached the rapids made our hearts stop. During one of the rapids, the raft leapt like a snake in the air, forcing some of us to lose whatever footing we had and ended up on the other side of the boat. Some of us, when caught up in churning rapids wished we had not signed up to this stomach churning ride. But the feeling of achievement after overcoming the rapids without tumbling into the waters is something that cannot be put in words. Rather you could, like many of us did, express it with the choicest of expletives in sheer joy of conquering a river in rage.
Rishikesh has some decent hotels and good vegetarian restaurants too, some even managed by foreigners. You could do the sacred things and cleanse your soul too. But one thing you will remember all your life is when you surrender your body and mind to a bit of an adventure.
Rishikesh is supposed to be the holiest of the holy towns. There are somethings here that you will find in most holy places in India – sadhus, cows, old pilgrims and, of course, lots of temples and ashrams. But there are somethings that you may not find in any other holy town! ‘Rishikesh ka Goa’ is where foreigners, in their swimsuits, can be seen relaxing on the white sandy beach, while ‘Rishikesh ka America’ is a stretch along the Ganga where couples from Delhi and elsewhere could be seen making out on the rocks with their feet dangling in the holy waters, and then of course there’s rafting. Well, at least that is what we were told by our “Raju” guide!
Contributed by: VKS The man who loves his Pandi Curry more than his Bong bandi!