There is no certainty; there is only adventure – Roberto Assagioli
Every so often I wish to go out and do something scary. Having been hooked on the buzz of the extreme, I decided to unleash the adrenaline and feel the kick of Adventure sports. India, the largest democracy in the world is still a toddler when it comes to adventure sports. Even after travelling around India for years, I must confess, I haven’t really leaped into the thrill of extreme sports . Well, there were a few, but not worth mentioning. This is the story of my journey to Rishikesh, to seek out the adventurist in me and face the thrill of danger.
Commonly known as the “Yoga Capital of the World”, Rishikesh is a calm and serene town ideally located near the fast flowing chilly waters of the sacred Ganges and surrounded by forested hills, at the foothills of the Himalayas. This gateway to the Himalayas, has been a magnet to spiritual seekers as well as adventure seekers like me. Now, lets get down to business.
This trip, like most of my previous ones, started from IIT Kanpur at 7 pm on 1st of March 2013. But unlike previous trips, this was a planned journey and we were 6 in number in a hired Innova. The 13 hour ride to Rishikesh was uneventful, except for traffic blocks that extended to a few kilometers. Why would I bother about it, when we were off – roading and jumping over the dividers? Anyway, I must appreciate the driver for his exceptional piece of driving, though the car might disagree.
First thing to do in Rishikesh, was to search for the tour operator we had contacted earlier. Done. Next, freshen up and recharge the tummy. Hint: Used the facilities of a nearby ashram. Side missions aside, lets get down to the interesting part – White water rafting! Even though I had visited a number of places that offered rafting, I never actually got a chance to try it, until today. The Garhwal Himalayas tour operators took us to Shivpuri, the starting point of the rafting. The gushing waters of Ganges swirled into violent rapids, smashing around the rocks, and spin – drifting its icy waters. Having carried our raft down to the banks, adorned in life saving “armour”, we were ready to roll.
“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.”
Words cannot describe this experience. Truly awesome. The rapids have interesting names as well, like, Sweet sixteen, Golf course, Cross Fire, Roller Coaster, Double Trouble etc. They do live upto their names as well. The only problem was that I was still in pre-school when it came to swimming. But that didn’t stop me from jumping off the raft and “swimming” in the algid Ganges. The guide told us when and how we should row the raft. Half way through, we stopped at the banks of the river and went into the camp for lunch. After a short rest, we were back on the raft, braving the rapids that tried to capsize our boat and throw us into the whirlpools. Sounds scary, but even if we did fall out, we’d float and the raft would pick us up after, say a kilometer downstream. An encouraging prospect, I must say. Too bad, we never got a chance to yell, “Man overboard”. And we didn’t try cliff jumping, as the guide felt that there wasn’t sufficient water for a safe splash down. The whole rafting plus lunch took close to 4.5 hours and we were back in the town.
Back in the camp located in the woods, we were given tents to set in. Each had 2 beds in it and we could see the blue-green waters of Ganges flowing in front of us. We then went for a short trek to a waterfall. Neergadh waterfalls is located amid the dense green forests of Rishikesh and it takes about 30 mins to get there. The beautiful shallow pool and the gamboling waterfall makes it a good evening getaway. By the time we got back, it was already dark. You know, the best thing about staying in the tents is that, you get to go back in time – when there was no electricity. All we had was a small battery lamp in the room. The campfire and the barbecue at the banks of Ganges was a really interesting experience. To gaze at the majestic Ganges,gurgling down the gorges, illuminated by the pale blue moonlight in the cool breeze was a soothing experience. A game of cards in this setting would appeal to anyone.
After a good night sleep, it was time for the next adventure. But before that, we had a great time making sand castles at the banks of Ganga. Next stop – Bungee jumping. Rishikesh has the highest natural bungee jumping site in India, and the drop is 83m. Located nearly 40km from our camp, this was our ultimate test in Rishikesh. Out of 6 of us, 4 of us decided to face our fears and jump of the perfectly good platform with nothing but a giant rubber band attached to our legs. I must say, I made mother earth and grandpa gravity proud when I leaped of the platform. I could hear my heart pounding as I hurled down and once the chord got tout, I bounced back up and went down again. It was frigging awesome, and I wanna try it again. A jump would cost you 2.8k, but trust me, you’ll love it. After the jump, we were given a certificate and a badge that said, “I’ve Got Guts”.
I also tried flying fox in which 2 people slides down a 1 km long rope way connecting 2 mountains. We reached speeds of 140 kmph and on reaching the end, we reversed back like a pendulum. Gravity sure is one mean fellow. The crystal clear stream flowing right below the cable, and the gust blowing on your face, makes it a worthwhile experience.
It was nearly 5 pm by the time we returned from Jumpin Heights, the bungee organizers. We took a quick tour of a temple in Rishikesh. Lest we forget, Rishikesh is a spiritual center. It was time to get back to Kanpur. We dozed off for most of the return journey, and we were back in IIT by 6.30 am. I had a class to attend at 10 am.
I’d like to extend my warm gratitude to my friends Hari, Ashwin, Parvathi, Ferdin and Subhasree for making this a memorable trip. And that’s our group photo.
The Bungee Jumping Video is available here : http://youtu.be/CyG2FLG80eQ