Top 7 Best River Rafting destinations in India (2021)


            River rafting is like riding a wild horse with the gushing water and river strides making your adrenalin go higher and higher. River rafting undoubtedly has become one the most famous adventure sport that gets included in one’s bucket list. India which is home to a wide range of Himalayan and other major rivers naturally becomes the best River rafting destination in the world. 

The wide range of rivers in India provides opportunities from beginner to the challenging level of rafting where Grade i is easy, Grade ii and Grade iii are moderate levels while Grade iv and above being the most challenging ones. Best River Rafting destinations in India(2021) is an exhaustive guide for all river rafting information provided to you for major rafting destinations across India so that you could go out Post the Lockdown period of Covid 19 and fulfill your adventure hunger.

 

[su_heading align=”center”]What is River Rafting ?[/su_heading]


River rafting (also known as Kayaking and Cannoning in some parts of the world ) is a form of outdoor recreational adventure sport. It involves a group of 6-8 people on an inflatable raft trying to navigate through a given route in the flowing river. The harsh river strides and rapid grades make up for the adrenalin rush which this sport is known for. As an adventure sport it has gained popularity since 1950 and the sport has developed considerably in terms of style and equipment used from then. At many places the term White water rafting is used due to the white foam created by fast rapid currents in a considerably turbulent river flow.At various places in the world it is also played as a competitive sport where rafters around the globe participate.

[su_heading align=”center”]7 Best River Rafting Destinations in India(2021)[/su_heading]

1.River Ganga, Rishikesh


River Ganga at Rishikesh is undoubtedly one of the most famous and sought-after rafting destinations in India pulling a huge no. of adventure enthusiasts every season. Rishikesh which is part of Uttrakhand’s Garhwal range of the Himalayas brings out the opportunity for a huge range of adventure sports along with river rafting. At Rishikesh, one can pick the stretch based on one’s preferred difficulty level in a long stretch of around 16-17 km starting from Shivpuri to Lakshman Jhula. The stretch covers a total of around 13 rapids with some amazing names like Double Trouble,Three Blind Mice, Tee Off ,Roller Coaster ,Golf Course, Return To Sender, etc which involves a difficulty level from Grade i to Grade iv.

Also, visitors  have an option to choose from a range of popular stretches that are enjoyed as much. A few to name would be 12 km long stretch from Dharasu to Chham, 12 km long stretch from Matli to Dunda that has a mixture of basic, moderate and difficult grades, 20 km stretch from Jangla to Jhala that is a mixture of grades,Mandakini’s 26 km stretch leading you from Chandrapuri to Rudraprayag(this one has plenty of higher grades), Harsil to Uttarkashi on the river Bhagirathi. These stretches offer you a combination of a beautiful view of kumaun ranges along with the serene white beach views along the way.

  • Best Season for Rafting: Mid September to Mid June
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Grade I – IV
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 16 to 36 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 600
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Raft trip outfitter Ph: 070179 95081

    Sports Club Ph: 096393 77776

2.River Beas, Kullu Manali


Apart from being one of the most popular honeymoon destinations ,Kullu is also known for its adventure sports platter .From being one of the most popular white water rafting sports it provides an opportunity for huge range of adventure activities like Hiking, trekking, paragliding, biking etc.

Though tourists visit Kullu round the year to witness its enchanting Himalayan beauty but to say an ideal time for rafting would be the onset of summers i.e March starting to the end of June. River Beas provides lovely rafting opportunities in Kullu at different stretches which tourists could pick based on their preferences. There are short Stretches like the one from Pirdi To Samshi around 4 Km (takes around 30 mins),Medium stretch starting from Pirdi To Sharabai this one takes you through lush green forest areas and is the most interesting part. Also there is a long and a little challenging stretch from Pirdi To Bajaura around 14 Km.

  • Best Season for Rafting: Start March to End June
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Grade I – IV
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 4Km to 14 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 1200
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Adventure Yug Ph: 9805557271,
    Manali Travel Adventure Ph: 7009597673

3.River Indus, Ladakh


Ladakh is amongst one of the places filled with enticing beauty in terms of its unique landscape of cold desert. Snow-capped Hilltops , monasteries, lovely villages and deep gorges. Also, Indus which flows through its heart provides huge rafting opportunities. Indus is the largest river in Asia (3180 Kms) is also known as Sindhu river and has several rafting points and the river is sometimes also called Singhe Khababs due to that. To mention a few
Phey – Nimo route(12Kms)
Upshi – Kharu route(90 km)
Phey – Saspol(8km)
Kharu – Spituk(45 km)
Saspol – Khaltsey(90 km)
Also River Zanskar which is a north-flowing tributary of Indus offers huge opportunities for rafting. The river is frozen during winters and famous for Chadar trek but during the summers and monsoons, it converts as a rafting hotspot. Few popular stretches are
Tsogsti to Sangam(1hour dist)
Choklamsar to Phay(1.5 hour dist)
Schorpochay to Sangam(2.5 hour dist)
Phay to Sangam(2.5 hour dist)
Sangam to Alchi(2.5 hour dist)

  • Best Season for Rafting: July, August, September
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Grade I – IV
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 4Km to 90 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 1000
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Indus Himalayan Explorers Ph: 094191 77668
    Splash Adventure Tours Ph: 096229 65941

4.River Barapole, Coorg


There are also opportunities in southern India offering rafting experiences that would surely level up the adventure stint that the north offers. River Barapole that flows through Coorg in Karnataka provides one such fabulous experience. The river is situated along the Deccan Plateau in the Western Ghats and originates from the Kithu Kakathu River further extending to Brahmagiri hills to the Arabian Sea, being a turbulent river it offers excellent rafting conditions. From a distance of 27 km from Gonikoppal and 78 km from Madikeri, Barapole there lies this famous spot for river rafting which is a major attraction in every Coorg tour package.

The river divides in two sections the upper section consisting of 3-5 Rapids and the lower section that has about 5-7 rapids which in total will offer a difficulty level of Grade ii , Grade iii and Grade iv. Depending on the level of water at places the grades are extremely challenging.
Route from Bangalore and Mysore side
Bangalore –> Mysore –> Hunsur –> Nagarhole Forest ( Forest Route can be assessed from 6 am to 6 pm) –> Kutta –> Srimangala –> T.Shettigeri –> Tata Tea Estate –> KKR Junction –> Barapole Water Rafting
Route from Madikeri side
Madikeri –> Virajpet(or Siddapura) –> Gonikoppal –> Ponnampet –> Hudikere –> T.Shettigeri –>Tata Tea Estate –> KKR Junction –> Barapole Rafting Base

5 . River Kundalika, Maharashtra


Kolad in Maharastra is famous for its beautiful landscape, sprinkling waterfalls,green meadows and white water rafting at the kundalika river flowing through the hills and valleys of Sahyadri ranges. Its a small town easily accessible from Mumbai (122 kms) and Pune(144 Kms) filled with greenery and ample sights of water sports , dams,forts and adventure camps offering rafting, rappelling, kayaking, rock climbing and many more experiences.

The river is being one of the fastest in the south and an optimum weather condition that allows round the year rafting makes the place perfectly suitable for adventure heartthrobs. Kolad River is a dam-controlled river that makes its pace turbulent enough to give a nerve-breaking rafting experiences ranging from Grade iii to Grade iv at some places.
Route from Mumbai
Travelling via Kodambakkam – Mumbai Hwy and Khopoli – Pali Rd. Then you will reach Kolad in approximately 2 h 26 min.
Traveling via MH SH 104 and NH66 you would reach in 2hr 48mins
Route from Pune
Traveling through the Mumbai –Pune Expressway, one would reach Kolad in approximately 3 hours.

  • Best Season for Rafting: Mostly all season
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Grade iii-iv
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 12 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 1000
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Riverraftingkolad Ph: 86525 09851
    Sterling Nature Trails Ph: 080808 07341

6.River Teesta, Sikkim


Another major rafting attraction happens to be in the northeast part of India, Sikkim where river Teesta bestows the region with beauty, flowing wonderfully through the Teesta valley. The 315 Km long river originates from Tso Lhamo lake in North Sikkim at an altitude of 5330 meters which makes it a river with one of the highest velocity undercurrent river in the world, this creates excellent white water rafting conditions. The river passage provides an exotic valley view with a beautiful hill station Kalimpong just above it.

It roughly has around 50 rafting points with difficulty levels from Grade ii to Grade vi. Rafting starts from Tarkhola up to Kalijhora which could take about 1.5 to 3 hours providing stretches from small to long. Rafting happens both during summer as well as winter season but winter makes the water ice cold so one has to use wet suits to counter that extremely cold water.The passage provides route for both non-swimmers and swimmers where the former route is a little easy and gentle with fewer rapids while the latter provides for sharp rapids and are only advisable for experienced and expert rafters.
Route from Kalimpong
18 km from Kalimpong Bus Station
Rafting routes
Gangtok à Darjeeling, Gangtok à Kalimpong or Gangtok à Siliguri, Melli Bridgeà Geil Khola (challenging route)

  • Best Season for Rafting: March to June and September to November
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Grade ii – vi
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 12 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 1500
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Teesta Triveni White Water Rafting & Camping Ph: 086370 70220

7. River Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh


Another amazing destination for rafting appears in the Eastern Himalayan river called Kameng River (earlier known as Bhareli River and Jia Bhoreli in Assam). It originates in Tawang district from the glacial lake below snow-capped Gori Chen mountain (6,300 meters (20,669 ft) on the India-Tibet border in South Tibet and flows through Bhalukpong circle of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh and Sonitpur District of Assam, India.It provides a surprisingly consistent rapid route with lush green rain forest and wild nature,deep gorges and exotic birds sounds on the way that would leave you with a mesmerizing experience.The beauty of the route is such that gives you visualizations of raw and dense forest with deep gushing water.

Rafting in the Kameng River mostly takes place in the Seppa to Bhalukpong route. Seppa is the headquarters of the East Kameng district. Placed by the Kameng River, the town also has a helipad and is well connected to Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, and Tezpur in Assam. The initial leg of the start point at Seppa remains calm and smooth it is only after some downward distance that the river reveals its true colors with some turbulent and vigorous rapids which can throw you off your seat and has to be passed deftly.

  • Best Season for Rafting: February to March and also during November and December
  • Rapid Difficulty Level: Moderate to Grade IV
  • Distance Covered: Approximately 20 km
  • Approx. Average Cost per person: INR 1500-2000
  • Prominent rafting centers
    Aquaterra Ph:8231567664

    Arunachal24 Ph:8011568884

Also Read”Where to do Sea Walking in India: Complete Guide Underwater Sea Walking”

[su_heading align=”center”]Is River Rafting Dangerous?[/su_heading]

Given the fast-flowing nature of rivers where rafting takes place and sharp grades, the sport is not that smooth and for light-hearted hence an adventure sport. But taking all the safety measures (discussed later)the chances of danger reduces to a considerable amount though minor injuries are part of the nature of the sport. In most places, an expert guide helps you to navigate safely with important instructions on the way.

[su_heading align=”center”]Is River Rafting safe for non-swimmers?[/su_heading]


The answer to the above question is Yes but with certain terms and conditions attached. Any adventure sport out there in the world would definitely include an element of risk in it . For that is the element that gives the much sought-after adrenalin rush the primary reason people take up any sport. Though the degree of risk varies as to which river you are rafting to and which grade rapids would you be encountering in that stretch of your rafting. Usually for beginners, it is advised to take up stretches involving Grade I to Grade II which comprises more calmer and smoother part of the rides and as and when one gets trained he could raise his Grade level.

Wearing proper safety gears and life jackets is a must as it reduces the risk to a considerable amount.In case you fall in water you shouldn’t panic as the lifejacket would keep you afloat and should try to reach out to ropes tied around the boat as they help you to balance.In the end always remember rafting is a team sport and abiding by the safety instructions would help to reduce the risk element and maximize the fun.

[su_heading align=”center”]What are some river rafting equipments?[/su_heading]

Inflatable Rafting Boat: Hard-built lightweight inflatable rafts that is the main boat over which rafting is done.
Life jackets: Lightweight safety jackets that helps one from drowning in case of a boat flip or a fall.One should choose a jacket of his/her size so that it is tightly fit.It helps upper body to stay afloat .
Helmets:Head gears needed to protect head injuries from rocks and hard surfaces in the river during rafting.
Paddles: Carbon material lightweight paddle that help you to steer the boat .
Wetsuits: Bodysuits with thermal insulation in case the water is very cold.
Rescue Bags:Bags with rescue ropes in it that could be thrown to rescue someone who is at a distance after falling and then can be pulled.

[su_heading align=”center”]Some important Rafting tips and guidelines[/su_heading]

1.Educate yourself about rafting if you are a beginner

Having proper awareness about the sport can create a difference of life and death in case of any adventure sport. One must learn the do’s and don’t about the sport from the expert especially if you are a non-swimmer and a beginner too.
2.Choose a licensed rafting agency/point

It’s important to go for professional and trained raft agencies as they would help you with proper safety guidelines and instructions.
 3.Know your strengths and choose the Grade level wisely.

Rafting takes a good amount of upper body strength while on the raft as it engages your core. And that is what can save you while on a flip or a fall. Judge your strength with honesty and choose the difficulty grade accordingly. Grade I is the easiest and as you higher Grade vi and vii could be extremely challenging and advisable only for experienced.
4.Know the river and the season

Different rivers behave differently based on different parts of the season.For example in summers some rivers remain calm some have a huge flow of water.Also how turbulent the flow and harsh rapids are there should be learned beforehand.
 5.Learn some floating techniques.

This can come very handy during a flip and help you to stay afloat .You don’t need to be a swimmer for this and one can learn it after trying for one or two times.Also a bigger component would be to not to panic as it reduces your efficiency to function.
 6.Always pay attention to instructions

Your instructor knows in and out of the sport and it’s very important to carefully listen to the instructions when given .You should abide by the commands that are generally used while rafting

[su_heading align=”center”]Important Rafting commands and what do they mean[/su_heading]


1. Paddle forward

It’s one of the simpler commands which require everyone to paddle forward together and in sync. As it would help the raft to steer against strides. It requires a good amount of your core muscles and upper body strength.
2. Paddle backward

Its similar to the above command just with the reverse direction.This would be helpful incase of some obstacle where the raft is stuck.
3. Left Back and Right back

It’s a little confusing command and requires your attention to what the guide had told. Left back command requires the people sitting on the left to paddle back while the one who are sitting on the right should continue paddling forward. Likewise Right back command requires the people sitting on the right to paddle back while the one sitting left should carry paddling forward. The command helps the raft to give a little twist movement .Its important to remember though which side you are sitting as you might get confused.
4. High side

It’s an important command and its used by the guide to protect the raft from flipping over.It basically means people to jump over to the side of the raft that has risen high due to a high tide or an obstacle.It helps to regain the raft balance and prevent it from flipping over.
5. Stop

It simply means to stop paddling in case the raft is trying to regain its line and direction.


[Also read my “What mountains can Teach you”]

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