Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rafting Trip

Here is the account of my rafting trip to Shivpuri (30 kms from Rishikesh) a couple of months ago:-
11th Arpil 7:30 pm
Assembled in front of our office in Gurgaon and started mingling with the other people who would be the joining us for the trip. Slowly and in a very time-consuming fashion, so very typical of us, we got started for the trip. Since we had to pick some people from different places en route I was sure it would be a good amount of time before we actually hit the road. A wait for the toll tax at Ghaziabad ensured further delay. To add to the woes the AC in the bus started behaving erratic. No cooling. Not an ideal start to the journey I would say.
A quick dinner at one of the numerous road side dhabas and then off we were in the bus towards Rishikesh. By now we had left the city far behind and the breeze was cooler than before so people didn’t face much discomfort due to the non functioning AC. Songs, Dumb Charades and games going on in the bus. Special mention about this guy Puneet who had kinda memorized Altaf Raja songs and sang them one after the other. Who bhi poore… Beat that!!!

We finally reach the place in the morning. Sleepy faced people scampering out of the bus with disheveled hair, bags on shoulders and sand in the feet. The camp looks good. The river Ganges surrounded by thick forests and mountains, clean white sandy beach with a long row of 2 person tents and a volley ball net thrown in.
My tent was named ‘Three Blind Mice’. Dropped bags in our respective tents, freshned up and gathered to have some tea n snacks. Started with some volleyball and worked up a huge appetite for breakfast which consisted of bread, butter, jam, scrambled, eggs, cornflakes, milk and upma. Post breakfast it was time to go for the rafting.
Around 10 we left for this place upstream from where the rafting trip would begin. After reaching the place we wore the life jackets, helmets and got the paddles. All decked up n waiting for the boats to be inflated. Each of these boats is imported and costs about 3.5 lac rupees. Gosh!! Even the paddles cost Rs.1700 apiece. WHOA!!
Our instructor gave us a brief ing about few things to keep in mind while rafting. This included basics to follow in case the boat capsized or someone fell off the boat. Weird expressions on people’s faces when this was being discussed. I occupied the first seat on the raft and took the position of one of the main paddlers. The raft had in all 9 occupants excluding the guide. So we had 4 rowers on each side and one non-rowing person as the official cheerleader of the group. At first we practised the basic instruictions like forward padle, back paddle etc, learn to keep our feet dug in under the air cylinders in the boat and then we set for something which can only be described as - adventure of a lifetime.
Rapids form at places where the river isnt too deep hence causing a lot of turbulence in the water. Some of the rapids are level 3 and we had our first brush with adventure when we came across "Three Blind Mice". This is also the name of the tent in which I am camping. Prabhjyot, who had been on a rafting trip last year didnt fail to mention that this was the point where their raft capsized. When we entered this rapid the water hit us hard. Straight in the face, relentless and unforgiving. The water is chilled and the great splash renders everyone immobile for two seconds. The raft rose to a height where the paddle couldnt reach the water. After braving through this rapid we managed through the rest of them all too. Soemtimes easy sometimes scary and sometimes we just ducked in the raft holding on to the lifeline for our loves. During the calmer sections of the river we did bodysurfing. basically u just let urself float in the river, thanx to the life jackets. The water was so cold that we had a hard time to stay in the water for long durations. We body surfed at two three places in the river.
Towards the end of the rafting trip is a point from where u jump off a cliff. The height must not be more than 12-15 mtr or so. Ive jumped that kinda height from the diving board a number of times in the swimming pool but out here my limbs kina froze for a moment and I took a moment to make that plunge. All of us did the jump atleast once. Some even 3 times. Post this there was a very small stretch of river which we had to make before the rafting came to an end. In the mid u could see numerous sandy beaches. On many of these beaches one could see firangis meditating. Most of the beaches had tents pitched up for the people visiting.

After this trip we came back to our camp in the bus. Everyone was feeling hungry and signs of sunburn and the wear & tear sustained in rafting had begin to show. Post lunch we went to a shady part of the beach and just relaxed on some rocks with feet hanging in the water. In the evening we again gathered to play volleyball and some cricket. Playing volleyball in sand is much better than playing on ground as the sand is much more absorbant and lesser bruises etc.
As soon as the sun went down the camp people came out with some snacks , veg and non veg some cold drinks and ice. Rest had to be managed on our own for which almost everyone was prepared, if u know what I mean. So me and a couple of frnds took some snacks and some glasses and ice and headed for a spot in the sandy beach and did a lot of bakar over drinks. After a couple of drinks we joined the rest around the bon fire and had a great time. The hot topic of discussion being ghosts, spirts and the world of paranormal. Post dinner we went for a night trek to some village enarby and then again continued with the chatting around the bonfire.

Around 1 am the last of us, who still were awake after the back breaking day, finally went to their tents. Waking up the next morning was the most painful experience of the entire trip. Almost the entire body complained of pain and getting out of the bed required a Herculean effort. Finally after breakfast we left the camp and went to the Neer Garh waterfall.

The return to delhi was marked by a stop at Muzaffarnagar where we had chaat, aloo tikki, bhalle papdi etc at Gupta Chaat Bhandaar. The trp finally ended when we reached good ol' Delhi. Took an auto from Sarai Kale Khan to home.

Rafting was the main purpose of the trip but apart from that a lot of other things that happened were bonding between the various people in the trip, the extended talk sessions over food and drinks. One thing that I would really like to stress is that carry ample sun screen and dont forget to apply it to all the parts of your body which could be exposed to sunlight. I forgot to do the same and got severe burns on my thighs. Another thing worth mentioning would be the food at the camp. Right from breakfast to lunch and dinner the food was awesome. not the usual heavy oily greasy stuff,which we love to have anyway, but food which was much simpler. Maybe the hunger worked wonders. But overall the food was awesome.

Total cost of the trip 3200/- was inclusive of travel, stay, rafting, trek and entry to a waterpark. A true wilderness adventure taking one through the rapids, the jungles and camping overnight alongside the river by an open camp fire under the stars.