“There are many ways to salvation, and one of them is to follow a river.” – David Brower
The journey is never about the destination, it’s about the fun!
Often I am buzzed to break my scheduled workdays to blend with a venturous weekend for my most planned idea of River Rafting in Rishikesh. And that day came when I surprisingly thought to join some fellow individuals like me – ‘My Family’ in this case for rafting to Rishikesh.
The weather was mild enough to hit the highway and we boarded the cab from Connaught Place at around 10 pm. I didn’t expect that the retiring winter would bring an unpleasant but an engrossing journey. It was rather shocking to me that all at once we were in the midst of dense fog, yet our driver seemed to enjoy his driving – singing, smoking bidi and relaxing.
I was rather an entertaining part in this haul. Typing about the random thoughts that appeared in my mind while looking out of the window has always been the most satisfying thing for me ever, and it kept me awake almost the entire night.
I was excited and happy that an adventure awaits me in a few hours. I was happy at the thought of being embraced by the furious yet welcoming waves of the mighty Ganga with family and distant friends who are somewhat strangers.
It was a scorching sunny day, unlike the foggy night journey with my family and a bidi-addicted mid-aged chap to break the silence with continuous cough. It was time for some thrill in the gushing Ganga of the holy city. Soon after a light and quick breakfast we were prepped for the main act, the reason why I was in Rishikesh – river rafting.
River rafting experience was not new to me. I had enjoyed the thrill earlier in the Teesta River in Sikkim. However, I could not enjoy my most in Teesta, due to certain restrictions; I could only grapple till level 2 rapids in Teesta.
The rafting stretch in Rishikesh was divided into six levels (Sweet 16, Cross Fire, The Blind Mice, The Wall, Roller Coaster and the Golf Course) and covered four grades of rafting. With each rise in level the rapids grew in strength. Ganga’s potency was better understood as it came with full force, dwindling the balance as it smacked you across the face. The cool refreshing water was a delight.
For almost an hour and half covering a 16-km stretch, we rowed with strength battling the powerful rapid current and my mother being hydrophobic chanted the Hanuman Chalisa almost fifty thousand times. It was almost surreal as we battled against the river’s enormous torrents. For a fitting end to the rafting experience, was another sport of cliff jumping.
Feeing nervous, I climbed the cliff and looked down at the flowing Ganga, only to get jittery and my parents waving at me and my sister hooting for me to land my butt in ice cold water and few pebbles awaiting my butt’s landing.. And in one swift act of bravado, I took a free fall from the cliff without any support and landed searing in the cold river water and my sister breathed a sigh of sadist relief.
As I grappled with the surroundings trying to keep afloat I could not help but feel submissive and diminished before the nature’s awesomeness. If I thought that there can be no better end to this day, then I was wrong.
As we returned to our camps and dried ourselves, the sun had been gulped in by the valley of Rishikesh. It was then in the dimly lit camp-site with the gushing sound of Ganga still going about its business, against the silhouette of a valley, that I really bowed down to the overwhelming power of the place and scribbled few thoughts of mine with the company of blissful nature and the gentle breeze until I was forced to make faces for another family selfie followed with playing soulful music and getting back to my thoughts.
The next morning, however much the rustic beauty of Rishikesh pulled me back, with a heavy heart and slightly painful muscles, I packed my bags and made way to the city’s scorching heat after a heavy lunch and a customary visit to the ‘Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram’ known as the Beatles Ashram popularly.
The journey back was again with the bidi-addicted driver coughing and breaking the silence while I slept and dreamt about another adventure.