The trilogy ends here!
11 APRIL 2004 :: 0600 hrs
Like I said, river rafting is done in four sections in the Ganga. The first section begins from Devprayag and ends at the base camp in Kaudiyala. This was the section we did on the first day. The second section begins at Kaudiyala and ends in Marine drive. This is the section with a couple of interesting rapids such as, the Daniel’s Dip and the Great Wall. The third section begins at Marine Drive and ends in Shivpuri. This section also has a couple of rapids like the “Rapid Fire” and the “Three Blind Mice”. This rapid is a combination of three small rapids. And it is called BLIND, because you cant see a thing while you raft right through it!
But the best ones, as always, are saved for the final section. This section starts at Shivpuri and ends at Rishikesh. This section actually does not have that many rapids – but the ones that are there are pretty violent. There is the “Rollercoaster” and a couple of others which I cant recall. Well, I cant recall the names, but I can recall the experience in each one of them!
The naming convention used for these rapids are pretty interesting to note. Adveturous rafters who must have come across certain rapids for the first time, get to name them. Anil was telling us that there is a rapid called, “Kick on the @$$”. Interesting… when the raft is directly above this particular rapid, there is a forceful current that hits the raft from the bottom. The point of the hit is directly below where the rafter sits. So now you know!!
Some sections required heavy paddling. The rapids was when this was needed the most. Four paddlers did their best while Anil oared and guided the raft. Paddlers would pop out of the raft often. They would be pulled in… There were two members in the team who would be performing the “high rise”. When the raft approaches a rapid, it would require extra weight in the front – the portion which hits the rapid first. Two people would lie on their tummy, facing outwards towards the gushing rapid. They are the high-risers. Personally, I feel this is the best position while in a rapid. You feel the water on your face, the thrilling gush of water all over your body. You would be soaked to skin, and rocking along with the raft like a rag-doll.
There were just three basic things to be kept in mind while rafting.
“Forward Paddle” — When Anil gives this command, you dig in the paddle, at 90 degrees, into the water. This is done by keeping you hands straight, not bending the elbows. You lunge forward and dig the water with the paddle, and pull your body backwards. In this process you move the raft forward. We must keep in mind that the strain is not felt on the hands but on the tummy region. I was very good in forward paddling.
“Backward Paddle” — In this movement, You support the paddle on your girdle bone. Lunge fowards, dig the paddle into the water and push your body backwards. In this process you can steer the raft backwards. This type of paddling was pretty bad forme. I couldnt really synchronize with the rest of the paddlers when in came to backward paddling.
The third position was Jughead’s personal favourite — “Relax”!! You simply had to sit with the paddle placed on your knees. We must take care to hold down the paddle, firmly against your knees – the forceful waters can push it off to hit your chin/face etc.
On our way back, we took a different route altogether. The people in the Wagonar couldnt follow us. We went right through the heart of the nearby Rajaji National Park. We spotted visitors who were camping inside the park. There was a road built parallel to a watercanal, and the drive down ( I guess it was more than just a couple of kilometeres) was really picutresque. We sat looking out of the windows, hoping to spot some wildlife. But the heat was too much for the animals to venture out. The Qualis took beautiful and exotic routes out of the park. At some point of time, the vehicle was actually driving on a dry river bed!
Life is Beautiful…If only we could appreciate it completely…