Ever since I started living in Noida, I have longed to visit one place direly. It’s the holy grail of adventure hot spots in India and a religious destination too. It’s the land of raging Ganges and mesmerizing landscapes, it’s Rishikesh.
Not that it was my first trip but this one had to be special. The last time I went there my family was along with me and it was more of a religious trip. But the sight of a rafting team on the Ganges had already captured my imagination and I was ever since speculating my rafting date.
The opportunity came finally after more than five years that too in the form of a serendipity. It so happened that one my best buddies Kumar Abhinav was approached by his friends for a weekend river rafting trip. Fortunately for me there were seven people and as each tent requires at least two people and as there were three married couples, Abhinav was left alone without a partner and he called me up to ask me to fill up the vacant space. I grabbed the opportunity with open hands. So there I was excited and enthralled at the prospect and of finally being able to fulfil my dream of rafting across the raging Ganges.
The trip was really well planned by the team. The fact that we had three married couples in our group really helped as ladies are good planners and their respective hubbies have no other option but to follow their instructions. The thought that we had to start our trip at 3:30 am was a concern for me. I decided to skip my sleep and went to watch the Bollywood movie – Two States. However after returning from the movie I was too tired to stay awake and just dozed off.
The team who had never met me earlier were responsible enough to call me at least 25 times but to no avail. They left me and moved on. Whoa there you must be thinking the trip was as good as over for me but there’s more twist left. Abhinav my dear buddy convinced the team that he would come to my place personally and wake me up. Thanks buddy I owe you this trip. So finally half awake and feeling guilty having made the team wait for me, I was on board the traveller on course to Rishikesh.
At this point I would like to introduce you to all the trip members :-
Anikendra aka Sarkar – that’s myself.
Kumar Abhinav, the director cum photographer cum actor cum gambler. Need I say more. You bet I can. Just drop me a message to know more about this guy.
Manas Chandra, the talking IMDB, the guy with the moolah.
Nimisha Arora Chandra, the happy go lucky lady who made sure the trip was successful.
Vineet Gautam, the accounts guy and the manager.
Shilpi Manchanda Gautam, the team leader who led us from the front.
Ankur Kalia, the moms lad, the girls man.
Shweta Sharma Kalia, the mystery lady, the quietest of the three.
This team had made sure that the journey was not a boring one. We had a quality time playing uno, tambola, dumb-charades and off course chit chatting all the time. I being a silent guy was rather listening to the lot and enjoying the picturesque countryside. The ladies had made sure that there was ample stuff to munch throughout the journey. We even had breakfast at a roadside dhaba. Myself and Abhinav being hygiene conscious took time to brush our teeth to sharpen them for the bites.
Amidst the hullabaloo, I made sure I had a short nap to re-energize myself. We finally reached our destination at around 12:30 P.M.The very sight of the camp at the banks of river Ganges gave me goosebumps. The serenity and tranquillity of the forest and the melancholy of the chirping birds was mesmerizing. I was spellbound by the freshness in the air. It was a terrain unexplored yet to be inflicted by the curse of pollution.
We had to trek down a few hundred metres to reach the banks from where we were ferried by the camp organizers. There were some thirty odd tents out there and we had booked four of them. Oh yes, I forgot mention that another guy Rahul joined us at the camp venue and he put up along with myself and Abhinav. This guy made the trip even more memorable with his jovial nature, goofy stories and needless stunts. We changed and soon had our lunch which was decent considering the remote location where even electricity lines were not present.
The main activity of rafting was scheduled at around 3:30 P.M. We were all excited specially Rahul and the girls. We put on the life jackets, listened to the instructions given by the rafting guy, took pics posing in the attire and finally left for the adventure session. Initially it was a bit difficult to coordinate the rafting but soon we got in rhythm. The real fun began when the rapids arrived and the chilly waters splashed against our face and the raft went for a toss. It was a bit scary sometimes but thanks to our brave team leader Shilpi who always kept us motivated with hers chants and guided all the time with commands like “Team Paddle Fuuward”, “Team Stop”, “Chir Mir Chir Mir Dhum Dhamaka…Ho Haa Ho Haa”,”Ganga Mata Ki Jai” among others.
Throughout the rafting session, we for a moment were not silent and had lots of fun. The 24 km stretch was covered in 2.5 hours but the time just flew by. Ahh does that remind you of theory of relativity? Just before the end of the rafting, we were allowed to jump into the river and enjoy the tides. It was a lifetime experience floating in the chilly waters of the Ganges. However after 10-15 minutes inside the freezing waters most of us started shivering and had to get inside the raft. Although we din’t want to stop but our 24 km stretch had come to an end and we had to pack up.
When you have girls in your group, you can’t do without long photo sessions and this time too although most of us were shivering, took time out to pose in front of the camera.
We boarded our van and even though we wanted to carry on were too tired and started moving towards our camp. We badly needed some snacks and tea and once we reached Shivpuri, we had our Maggi break. Our caring hubby Ankur was particularly concerned about his better half and even bought a clutcher for her to assemble her hair.
Once we reached our camping destination, dead tired and hungry, the sight of the 200 feet trek down really pissed most of us off. To add to our owe, there was mild drizzle and the sky was dark. The only source of light was the lightening and for a moment it was scary. One could easily lose their steps and get injured but luckily there was no mishap.
Once we reached our tents, we started chatting about the rafting experience more so too keep ourselves awake. Trust me if you haven’t spent a night in a tent on river bank, you have missed something. The night atmosphere at the camps is just thrilling. A cold breeze blowing was very soothing, the lantern lit tents reminded us of our childhood days and the sound of the tides added to the ambiance of the location. Soon we had our dinner which was a bit delayed due to some heated argument between a group and the organizers. After dinner we all settled down in our tent and started chatting about topics which were to some extent out of place. After having set the tone with so much fun, one hardly wants to finish the day discussing about Agorhi and corruption and politics. None the less the discussion kept us awake for long time and even though the folks wanted to keep on going, the ladies for obvious reasons were not too amused and pulled their hubbies away. We soon fell asleep after an exciting day.
We got up quite early in the morning all rejuvenated. I took the path unexplored and ventured into the rocks and jungles near to our camp. It reminded me of my childhood days when often I would bunk school and go to the river to explore new spots and bring home stones of different shapes and sizes. It was a trip down the memory lane for me. While others took this time for photoshoot. There was lot of innovation in the photo-session as a few gave the pose of yoga babas, some went for the SRK style romantic pose, some tried stunts while the ladies as usual had their own manoeuvres in front of the camera.
After the long photo session, we decided to take bath in the Ganges, which initially to me didn’t sound like a very good idea considering the chilly waters. However once Rahul our dude dived into the Ganges as if he was going for scuba diving, the rest just couldn’t resist. It was fun splashing water at each other and taking a dip inside the clear waters. Off course Shilpi had taken the meaning of taking a dip to another level. I loved the feeling of just floating lazily in the cool water and even though it didn’t help my cold but was very soothing.
Finally we got up dried ourselves and sat near our tents to take rest. Myself and Rahul played a few games of volleyball and warmed ourselves. Soon our brunch was ready and we had a delicious grub. As the saying goes, all good things come to an end so too our trip was going to be over soon. Now it was time for us to pack our bags and put on whatever we could lay our hands upon. The second statement though doesn’t hold true for the ladies as they took all the time in the world to make sure that they looked no less than beauty pageants. The most gruelling part of the trip was yet to come as we had to climb the steep cliff to reach our van with our bags. To add to our owe, the bag carried by Ankur and Shilpi got drenched and became even more heavy. In fact it took almost half an hour for the three guys Ankur, Vineet and Rahul to carry it up to the destination. Vineet even got injured during the trek but luckily it was not so serious.
Finally we left our camping spot with a heavy heart at around 12:30 P.M spending all most a day amidst the nature. Thanks to the trance music played by Vineet, most of us fell asleep during the first 1-2 hours. Once we reached Haridwar, we took a drinks break and had some refreshment. It was very necessary as the tiresome trek uphill had taken a toll on all of us. Th refreshment break rejuvenated all of us and soon the ladies were making noise again. Now it was time for me to take control of the music and though I have a different taste for music, the folks loved my DJing. Manas particularly was excited with Baby Doll number while Shilpi and Shweta liked the softer ones. However by late afternoon we were all very hungry and a hungry driver is always angry. He was driving the van as if he had just got go ahead signal for the ground staff and was preparing for the takeoff. We almost collided with a few cars and bikes and luckily we finally reached a restaurant. I myself by this time had almost lost my senses due to hunger. The restaurant all though located in a secluded place was very busy and we had to wait for a long time to fill our stomach. At the end though it was a good heavy meal and we were again full of energy. By this time our driver was however fuming.
The folks started playing dumb-charades once again and our driver was not very amused with the noise and chaos. He actually made a lot of signs to tell us to stop but unfortunately for him, he was still pending payment. It was quite late already and on top of it the van broke down near Ghaziabad. Once the van was repaired by our driver, we settled down calmly and started the most interesting game of the trip. In this game, we all had to give our feedback for others one by one. It started with Shweta and everyone took their turn to open their heart for others. We came to know a lot about the folks from the honest feedback from their friends and spouses. The kind words said by everyone for me would always remain as a pleasant memory for me and it was a perfect end for my trip. Well by the way did I forget to tell that amidst all this our driver almost had a brawl with another tempo driver and the guy was hitting our van with stick. We for once though that we would have to indulge in a nasty street fight but luckily our driver calmed down in time and a a few localites grabbed the other driver and made way for us to leave the spot. However all’s well that ends well and by midnight we all were safely in our homes. A lot of activity in less than two days time and for me it was one of the best trips so far. Will certainly cherish this experience for a long time. Signing off for now. Do leave your comments.