Kayaking and Rafting destinations in India
The Himalayas, stretching 3,200 kilometres along India's northern and north-eastern frontiers, cradle numerous rivers flowing down and draining them all year round. This abundance of mountainous rivers makes India a world class white water rafting destination, with plenty of first descent and exploratory opportunities. The pure adrenaline rush and goose bumps of white water rafting are experienced in these river stretches, broadly covering the regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Ladakh.
River Ganges in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Rishikesh is the prime location for river rafting in India. Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand, white water rafting can be experienced at its best here, over River Ganges, offering Basic to Challenging levels of difficulty (Class 1 to 4 of white water rapids). Several camps outside Rishikesh organise white water rafting. The stretches running here are – Shivpuri to Rishikesh (16 kilometres rich in rapids and whirlpools), Brahmapuri to Rishikesh (9 kilometres), Marine Drive to Rishikesh (24 kilometres), Kaudiyala to Rishikesh (36 kilometres). Half day and full day trips cover these runs.
River Indus in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Rafting over the Indus in Ladakh amidst deep gorges, towering snow-capped peaks, elegant hilltop monasteries and hillside villages, makes it an adventurer’s delight also with magnetising views of the Zanskar ranges. A stretch of 25 kilometres is covered with very basic level of difficulty (Class 1 rapids).
River Beas in Kullu-Manali, Himachal Pradesh
The stretches of River Beas in Kullu, have rapids providing an exhilarating rafting experience to enthusiasts, ranging between Class 1 and 3. The 14 kilometres route starts from Pirdi (4 kilometres ahead from Kullu town) down to Jhiri.
River Tons, Uttarakhand
Situated in Uttarakhand’s border with Himachal Pradesh, River Tons is a tributary of the Yamuna, having more wrath than its mother river. It is considered as one of the most challenging places for white water rafting in India, inviting only daredevils to sail over its glinting waters. Meandering through the remote areas, it reflects core culture and traditions of Uttarakhand. The rafting route stretching almost 10 kilometres is not meant for amateurs, having Class 3 to 5 rapids, with possibility of a large drop and requires precise manoeuvring.
River Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh
Kameng River in the Eastern Himalayas is one of the most vibrant and extremely exhilarating destinations for river rafting with its verdant surroundings. With each passing kilometre, the thrill of the exuberant rapids of Class 3 and 4 on this impulsive river never ends, along the 25 kilometre stretch.
River Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh
The Lohit River is one of the most interesting spots for water sports like rafting and kayaking, in India. With moderate and challenging rapid levels of Class 3 and 4, the rafting distance is approximately 100 kilometres from the Line of Actual Control to Hayuliang.
River Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Flowing through the magnificent Spiti Valley is the Spiti River, offering rafting experience with a view of the spectacular Himachal, from the glaciers to its pristine villages. A rafter here can expect to spend at least 6 days in the river till the end point at Sumdo, with moderate rapid levels.
River Zanskar in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
The Zanskar River located in the Zanskar Valley, at 12,000 feet above sea level, offers a very challenging white water rafting experience with its icy cold waters and Class 3 and 4 whirling rapids. The run from Padum to Nimmo is about 120 kilometres, surrounded by picturesque landscapes of Ladakh. The rafting route ends at its confluence with the river Indus.
River Barapole in Coorg, Karnataka
The Barapole River flowing through Coorg in South India is one of the most thrilling spots of river rafting, covering a stretch of around 150 kilometres. The stretches are classified into the upper section of the river, with Class 4 to 5 rapids and the lower section, with the utterly dangerous Class 6 rapids.
River Bhagirathi, Uttarakhand
The 150 kilometres stretch of River Bhagirathi is exemplary for river rafting in India, rushing through two parallel mountains and providing a view of exquisite landscapes. The rapids come under Class 3 and 4 levels, and are interestingly named "Elephant rock", "The Chute", "Sharp S" and "Confluence rapid". Its route ends at its confluence with the Alaknanda River.
River Alaknanda, Uttarakhand
The Alaknanda River gives a shrill of a white water rafting experience. Cascading down from the Garhwal, this stretch of about 25 kilometres is challenging and difficult, with the rafter having to survive Class 4 and 5 rapids. The stretch between Chamoli and Rudraprayag is a classic river run.
River Kundalika, Maharashtra
Another river in South India that is an excellent rafting destination, is the fastest in the region, River Kundalika at Kolad, Maharashtra. Amidst the majestic Sahyadri ranges, the rapids along this river range between Class 3 and 4. The season of monsoons when the water levels are high, is the ideal time for a rafting experience here.
Rivers Teesta and Rangit, Sikkim and Darjeeling
The confluence point of River Teesta and its tributary Rangit is an ideal place for experienced rafters. Both these rivers have a series of multidimensional rapids with varying intensity, rated under Class 4. The experience here is further graced by the scenic beauty of the place.
River Brahmaputra, Arunachal Pradesh
Finally, the stretches along the Brahmaputa River in Arunachal Pradesh, starting from Tuting till Pasighat, give an extreme experience of white water rafting, with the rapids ranging from challenging beyond Class 4 to very difficult at Class 6. The entire stretch is about 180 kilometres, taking almost a week to be covered. The unparalleled beauty of the locations around makes Brahmaputra a premier destination for rafting expeditions.
The ideal season for river rafting in India depends on the climate of the location. The monsoons are the best time for the southern parts in Karnataka and Maharashtra, the winter, spring and early summer months between October and mid May are ideal for Rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries, Rivers Beas and Teesta, while the summer period between June to September are ideal for River Zanskar in Ladakh, which remains frozen in winters. With the readily available necessary equipment, it has become aptly easy for non-swimmers too to fearlessly undertake a white water rafting expedition.