By Yashpal Sharma
Once a pure spiritual destination, Rishikesh has recently emerged as the most sought-after adventure hub in India. Known since ancient times as the seat of spiritual learning, this place was once where rishis and yogis attained intellectual enlightenment or nirvana. If we look at the present image of Rishikesh, it has evolved as a destination famous for adventure activities that attracts adventure lovers and explorers from across India and abroad.
Situated on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Rishikesh is about 30 km North of Haridwar. In the late 90’s, the place became “Yoga Capital of the World” as it was a hub of ashrams and meditation classes. Most of these activities took place in the northern part of the town as this part was in the vicinity of the thick forests, with the sacred river flowing nearby. But Rishikesh is no more all about spirituality, yoga and mind expansion. It has become a popular travelers’ hangout place and a gateway for escapades into the Himalayas in last one decade. Tourists visiting Rishikesh today, have different expectations – thrill, adventure and fun. And this age old city delivers it to them.
Trekking and Camping
Adventure activities in Rishikesh, start with trekking and camping trips. The location of the prestigious mountaineering institute ‘Nehru Institute of Mountaineering’ is close to another pilgrimage site called Uttarkashi, where you will get technically qualified instructors who are ready to take you up and down the valley on a fun-filled ride.
As the mighty Shivalik Ranges are prominent all around the place, it has many enticing trekking routes around. Rishikesh has abundant forest ranges through which numerous trekking trails lead you to summits like Chandrashila. Rishikesh is the main base camp for popular treks like the Valley of Flowers and Kauri Pass. Other than this, day hikes to places like Kanyapuri, Neelkanth Mahadev and Jhilmil Ghufa are some other highlights of the place that attract weekenders’ big time.
White Water Rafting
Another exhilarating adventure activity in this region is white water rafting on the Ganges River. The Ganges in Rishikesh is not as calm and forgiving in this region as it is in Haridwar. Taking advantage of the river’s fury, adventurers have exploited it for enjoying white water sports. The Ganges here offers some of the best rapids in the world for rafters and adventurers. The best rafting length in this region is between Kaudiyala to Rishikesh. Kaudiyala is graded 4+ river rafting stretch which spans across almost 40 km in length and has some popular rapids including Marine Drive, Roller Coaster, Golf Course, Club House, Initiation, Double Trouble, Hilton, Terminator, Three Blind Mice, Crossfire, etc. Best time to enjoy these rapids is during September to April.
There are excellent rock faces near the river banks and north of Rishikesh. All high safety measures are used while conducting rock climbing, and the longer rock faces are also used for rappelling. Rappelling is an adventure activity in which a climber slides down the vertical rock face in a controlled manner using a harness and rope. And this is another popular adventure activity which the tourists can enjoy at Rishikesh.
Bungee Jumping & River Cliff Jumping
Rishikesh is home to India’s highest fixed platform bungee jumping base. Mohan Chatti is the place to experience 10-15 seconds of free fall before the rubber cord pulls you back to suspend you many feet above the rocky Hyul River – a contributory of River Ganges. A cantilever platform has been built over a cliff overlooking the Hyul River. The platform has been designed by a New Zealand-based adventurer named David Allardice. Apart from this, 1 km-long flying fox line is another adventure bonanza which is believed to be the longest in the entire Asian continent. Then there is a giant swing which is about 80 m long.
Exhilarating stuff, right? Visit and engage in some of these.