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Top 10 rafting sites
Ganges at Rishikesh, UttarakhandTop 10 rafting sites

The Ganga at Rishikesh is considered to be one of the world’s best rivers to raft. India’s rafting capital. About 16 kilometres upstream from the town of Rishikesh, on the Ganga, is one of India’s best known - and most popular - stretches for white water rafting. The stretch between Shivpuri and Laxman Jhoola at Rishikesh is open between September to June, through the winter. On this stretch rapids range from grade 1 to grade 4. This stretch, rich with whirlpools and rapids, has seen the likes of Brad Pitt come for a rafting adventure. There are as many as 13 rapids with curious names like Return To Sender, Roller Coaster, Three Blind Mice, Double Trouble, Tee Off and Golf Course. The run starts at Shivpuri and passes through thickly wooded hills; along the way are many of the river’s exciting rapids which are succeeded by deep, tranquil pools. The river route makes it way past riverside temples, under the Laxman Jhoola. The run finally terminates at Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh. An excellent combination of chilled and beautiful white sand river beaches against the scenic Kumaon Mountains.
Upper tributaries of Ganges also have many excellent rafting opportunities. Some of these other runs here are — Chandrapuri-Rudraprayag (26 km, higher grades) on the Mandakini; Matli-Dunda (12 km, mixture of grades), Jangla-Jhala (20 km, a mixture of grades), Harsil-Uttarkashi, Dharasu-Chham (12 km, a mixture of grades) on the Bhagirathi.

How to reach: Rishikesh, which is about 225 km from Delhi, is well connected to most of northern India by road; the nearest railhead is at Haridwar, while the nearest airport is Jolly Grant, at Dehradun. There are regular buses to Rishikesh from Delhi, Haridwar and Dehradun. Once in Rishikesh, you can hire a vehicle to get to the river camp – however it is best recommended to keep a vehicle put with you throughout the programme, since this allows you to do a lot of quality sightseeing in the Land of Gods.

Best time to go: The best season to go there is from September to June. Early winters will be indeed enjoyable.

Zanskar at Padum, Jammu & KashmirTop 10 rafting sites

Born from the merging of the Stod and Tsarap rivers, the Zanskar arises near the border between Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and makes its way northward, to meet the Indus at Nimmu. A beautiful stretch of water, often termed as Grand Canyon of Asia, the Zanskar isn’t as wild and wicked as its southern sisters, the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. It does have some grade III and IV rapids, but they’re fewer and more far between. Rafting is held between Padum and Zimo regions in the Zanskar river gorge at the height of 12000 feet of the sea level. Walls of mountains rise to hundreds of feet on both sides. The rafting route ends as the river merges with the Indus. The route passes through some very rough terrains and remote places in Ladakh. The river is rated as grade IV. Among the most exciting runs on the Zanskar is the Padum-Nimmu run, a trip which takes several days and involves having to camp out in the wild. It’s replete with exciting rapids, and is suggested only for those with a fair bit of experience in white water rafting. Another good run is the Phey – Nimmu route, easier than the Padum-Nimmu one- it’s mostly Grade II or III. The main attraction of the run is that it passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains, many of them with tiny villages and imposing old monasteries nestling among the valleys. The run starts at Phey and ends about 36 km from Leh, at Nimmu. Nimmu is situated at the confluence of Ladakh’s two main rivers- the Indus and the Zanskar.

How to reach: Zanskar’s administrative centre, Padum, is accessible from Kargil, to which it is connected by road during the summer months. Buses run between the two towns on alternate days between July and October, and vehicles may be hired in Kargil to do the trip.

Best time to go: It is July to August as the river freezes during winters.

Indus at Ladakh, Jammu & KashmirTop 10 rafting sites

Amidst deep gorges, towering snow-capped peaks, hilltop monasteries, hillside villages, Ladakh offers a range of rafting options on the Indus and its major tributaries. Much easier and quieter than the Ganga and its tributaries, the Indus is suitable for Grade II and III trips. The river, which originates in Tibet, flows down through Ladakh, past Leh, and then passes into Pakistan. The rafting season begins in the months of June upto late August on the river Indus when the water levels are high. Rafting is more commonly done from (Phey to Sasphol) Spitok to the Indus-Zanskar confluence at Nimmu, and from Nimmu to the ancient temple complex at Alchi, graded an average of 2-3. Spituk, just short of Leh and on the bank of the Indus, is the starting point for an easy and short trip downriver. The route goes up to the village of Saspol, near Alchi, and comprises a run of a few hours. A short and scenic run, the Spituk-Saspol route is relaxed enough to allow you to admire the beauty of the Indus Valley; beyond Saspol, however, the river starts getting a fraction wild, and is recommended only for experts. The more challenging route lies between Alchi and Khalsi, which takes in the kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. The Upshi-Khaltsi run is somewhat long, but not too difficult. Most of the river along this stretch consists of grade I and II rapids, although there are some grade III rapids too. The run starts at Upshi, which lies upriver from Leh, along the road which leads south to Manali. From Upshi, the river makes its way westwards to Khaltsi, along the road to Kargil.

How to reach: Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is connected by air to Delhi, Srinagar, Jammu and Chandigarh. In the summer months, road traffic also links the town to Manali in Himachal Pradesh and to Srinagar, although the latter route is not recommended because of the unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Within Ladakh, buses ply between the main towns and villages, and vehicles can be hired in Leh to get to the more inaccessible areas.

Best time to go: It is July to September as the winter onsets early here and river freezes during winters.

Teesta in Sikkim and DarjeelingTop 10 rafting sites

The rugged Teesta River, the main river of Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong Hill Region, with a series of rapids with varying intensity, has been rated at Grade 4. Teesta originates at Cho Lhamu Lake and gushes down the mountains, creating foaming white rapids which are literally tailor-made for kayaking or rafting. Although this river isn’t (as yet) as well- charted or developed as those in Garhwal or Kumaon, it’s swiftly acquiring a reputation as a good stretch for white water rafting. Most of the Teesta is either grade III or IV, so it’s advisable to have some experience of river running before you attempt it. Probably the shortest run on the Teesta is the run between Makha and Rongpo, a trip of about two and a half hours. Among the longer and more gruelling runs on the river are the stretches between Dikchu and Teesta Bridge; Dikchu and Kali Johra (in West Bengal, a run of almost five days); and between Bordang and Melli. The tributaries of the Teesta, including the Lachung Chu and the Lachen, also make for good river running. The turbulent Rangit, a tributary of the Teesta, with its multi-dimensional rapids, offers a challenge to more experienced rafters. In Teesta rafting is confined to the winter months, between October and April. Spring or early summer is ideal for river rafting. Paddle rafting and oar rafting can be done in the Teesta River.

Brahmaputra in Arunachal PradeshTop 10 rafting sites

The Brahmaputra river, both mystifying and ferocious, finds its way down the Tibet region by cutting Greater Himalayas and then enters Arunachal Pradesh from where the expedition initiates. A week long run in the river of Brahamputra takes the rafters through remote hill sides with a few tribal settlements in thick rainforests. The expedition starts from Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh on the Subansari river, the primary tributary of the Brahmaputra, and ends after 180 kms of rafting at Pasighat. The trip also gives an excellent exposure to remarkable sceneries and unparalleled locations making this river’s white water rafting amongst premier expedition in India. The rafting is rated at Level IV. Rapids such as the ‘Pulsating Pulsi’, ‘Toothfairy’ at Cherring will give you more than enough adrenaline to tell the folks back home. This self-contained river run offers an amazing journey through tropical forests, gorges and a window into a rich culture, unlike any other. What makes it doubly interesting is the area has virgin beauty, Arunachal Pradesh being closed for tourism until recent days. The expedition on the great Brahmaputra begins at Tuting, where Tsang Po, the name given to it in Tibet, takes on the name Siang in Arunachal Pradesh. Get ready for some of the best big white-water rafting and kayaking there is to offer in the world. The Great Brahmaputra is for anyone who is looking for an exhilarating rafting and kayaking expedition and will be rewarded with an experience that will give you goose bumps whenever you think about it.

How to reach: Travel to Dibrugarh in Assam by train or plane. Travel to Pasighat on boat and then to Tuting. Most of the rafting route is inaccessible by good road connectivity.

Best time to go: The best rafting season for Bramhaputra is November to March.

Kali/Sharda in Kumaon, UttarakhandTop 10 rafting sites

The Kali Ganga’s name is rather misleading - for it has nothing, actually, to do with the Ganga. The Kali Ganga, known in its lower reaches as the Sharda, flows into India from the neighbouring country of Nepal. Kali is also known as Mahakali in Nepal and forms a natural eastern boundary between India and Nepal. Hurtling down from the foothills of the Kumaon region, the Kali Ganga meets the Gori river at Jauljibi, where this run starts. A taxing stretch of river running, this route- all of 117 km- passes through some of the fastest and most dangerous rapids along the river. Most of the river is Grade IV – or higher- and should be considered only after you’ve had some experience of river running. The run down to Tanakpur takes about three days, and if you’ve still not had your fill, you can extend it to the lower reaches of the river, which are easier going. Jauljibi, which is the start of the run, is connected to major towns in Kumaon by road. Passing through verdant jungles the trip offers a view of various wild animals, and birds, while rafting through the pristine, and deserted environment.

How to reach: Take a train to Kathgodam and drive on road to Pithoragarh (seven hours at least). Its another two and a half hour drive from Pithoragarh to the confluence of Gori Ganga and Kali rivers at Jauljibi, the starting point of the expedition.

Best time to go: Jauljibi / Jhulaghat are better for pre-snowmelt season (March / April) and Pancheswar for post-snowmelt season (May / June or Mid-Sept / Oct / Nov). Pancheswar is also a famous fishing site for the mighty Mahseer and a rafting expedition could be combined with an angling trip.

Tons in Garhwal, UttarakhandTop 10 rafting sites

The Tons River flows through Garhwal, the western part of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Rising from the Bandarpunchh Mountain range at 20,720 ft, the biggest tributary of the Yamuna, the Tons River is said to have more water and wrath than the Yamuna itself. The Tons river expedition provides you the thrill of running a river that has grades 3 to 4 and even some grade 5 rapids such as with rapids such as ‘On the Horns of the Tons’, ‘Tons Squeeze’, ‘Confluence’, ‘Tuni Bazaar’. It is considered to be one of the most technical rivers to run in the country and has a lot to offer to adventurers. It is considered as one of the most challenging white water river rafting expeditions in the country today, and has plenty of rapids spaced together with flat water. The Tons valley is a remote area and has a culture unlike any other in the region. This river expedition brings one closer to nature as well as gives you an opportunity to discover a new side to yourself.

How to reach: Rafting in Tons is normally done from Mori in Tons valley of Garhwal. Reach Dehradun by flight, train and bus and then take road route to Mori.

Best time to go: February to June and the September to November.

Kundalika at Kolad, MaharashtraTop 10 rafting sites

For those who don’t want to travel far north to have an experience of white water rafting. Set against the magnificent Sahyadris, the white water of the Kundalika River at Kolad is an excellent stretch for excitement and adventure seeking rafters. Being a short drive from both Mumbai and Pune, it is a popular weekend and holiday getaway. The Kundalika rafting site in Kolad is located in the beautiful and virgin forests below the Mulshi and Bhira Dams. Kundalika is also considered to be the fastest river of the South. At Kolad, there is an excellent rafting destination. The almost 15-kilometre stretch of rapids along this river provides ample opportunities for an exciting experience. Rapids range between Class III & IV. The best months for rafting are in the months of monsoon when the water levels are high. White water rafting in this river can be enjoyed by all. It makes a great escape for those from Mumbai and Pune. Different adventure-related companies organise white water rafting on the Kundalika river.

How to reach: Kolad is a short drive from Mumbai and Pune.

Best time to go: The ideal a season for rafting is July to December, depending on the water tide.

Barapole in CoorgTop 10 rafting sites

Hers is something for the rafting adventurers in South who can make it to Himalayan rivers. River Barapole in Coorg, Dakshina Kannada, specially the upper river, provides excellent rafting opportunities. Situated in the Western Ghats edging along the Deccan Plateau, the grades range between 2 and 4.There are approximately 4 to 5 rapids in the regular upper section & about 6 to 7 rapids in the lower section, these rapids depending on water levels are between grade 2 to 3 or 4. The best season to raft is in the monsoon and post-monsoon months of June to September. The picturesque district of Coorg has raging rivers and rapids, which provide ample sport for the whitewater river rafting enthusiast, especially the ones on the river Barapole. Unlike the other river rafting sites which are non operational in June, Coorg catches best of the South West monsoon during the months of June till September, turning the landscape with many streams joining in to mighty rivers. The entire run stretches around 3 km and covers five creatively named rapids ‑ The Morning Coffee, the Grasshopper, the Ramba Samba, The Wicked Witch, and the Big Bang, ranging from level 2 to 4.

Best time to go: June to September.

Beas at Kullu, Himachal PradeshTop 10 rafting sites

Best place for amateurs and those who want to add a tag of river rafting to their profiles, without being too risky. Beas has its genesis in the Rohtang Pass and flows through the Kullu valley. Rafting in Beas has gained tremendous popularity. You can raft on the rapids of Beas, especially between Shamsi and Aut. This is around 20 km stretch and provides most thrilling rafting experience. This river is also the venue for many rafting competition in the state. Summers are the best for river rafting in Himachal Pradesh. It is when the snow capped mountains melt to give its waters to the ever hungry rivers. This also makes the rivers speedy and volatile, making it a wonderful challenge for river rafters out there. The rafting season is Kullu begins in the month of April, and extends up to end of June, just before the monsoons arrive. The base point is Pirdi, 4 km ahead of Kullu. From here a 14 km stretch up to Jhiri comprises Grade II and III rapids, and therefore, suitable for even the novices. Pirdi is 45 km from Manali, and it is always advisable to spend the night at Kullu. With river Beas the region has already earned a good repute among the kayaking community, and since it features Grade V rapids above Manali, Grade IV through Manali, and Grade III below the town, it offers plenty of opportunity for water rafting too.

How to reach: Kullu is connected via road to Delhi, Shimla and Chandigarh. Besides, Kullu also has an airport at Bhuntar.

Best time to go: April to June and September-October

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