River Rafting in the Himalayas

Anisha Sharma
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White water rafting on Himalayan rivers is a great way to connect with the powers that be in nature.

Security in turbulence:
White water rafting (Shivpuri, Rishikesh)

I knew nothing about swimming.

To compensate for my lack of capacity to save myself in case disaster struck and my paddle or myself got sucked into whirl-pools in the racing river, I followed the river guide’s instructions religiously.

White Water Rafting on Ma Ganga, Shivpuri, Rishikesh

I paddled with all of my 40 kg frame and might, and dug my waterproof-sandaled toes into the base of the paddle raft. I should have been terrified at my fool-hardiness. I wasn’t.

Ganga cradled me in her playful arms and gurgled with delight, while its rapid waters frolicked around solid boulders and my red raft with equal vigour.

Ganga, the bubbly mother was young 22 km upstream of Rishikesh, yet her mothering instincts were not to be mistaken. She threw my raft up in the air as a mother throws her baby up in the air only to catch her again amidst dizzy laughter.

Birds kept vigil for food near the fiercest of rapids with the peace of an enlightened Buddha

Frenzied waters of the ‘Golf course rapid’ embraced the lone river guide Bishnu in a paddle raft ahead of us. Bishnu’s fall in the river was not all; his bright raft came on my head obstructing view, but not sound of the encompassing river and cold splashes of Gangajal.

Now that you would say, should have positively scared me out of my skin if I was a novice, which I positively was. I’m happy to disappoint you…the turbulence of the moment did not incite fear but awe at the frothing power around me!

This security blanket amidst turbulence was wrapped around me by Ma Ganga herself.  Staid black cormorants flapped their wings in encouragement. Swallows nestled in holes they dug in solid layers of sand at her sides.

Red-bottomed shiny green-black birds kept vigil for food near the fiercest of rapids with the peace of an enlightened Buddha. White-freckled wagtails danced alone or in pairs to the music of the river. This music-system worked 24 X 7, without changing CDs.

These birds knew experientially that Ganga may look fierce with white froth bellowing around boulders, yet it was mother, home, food and security. No bird flinched at its wrath.

Alien to this mothering, I was ridden with doubts before the raft took to the icy waters. Not after. I experienced security amidst turbulence.

In Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says, ‘Sthavaranam Himalaya, Strotsaam Asmi Jahnavi; in stability know me as Himalaya and in rivers know me as Ganga.’

Thank you God. Twice blessed by your parental form in the Ganga and Himalayas I renounced fear of insecurities in life and day to day frothy circumstances. Thank you for being in and around me always! And thank you for letting me know that. Love you.

Himalaya Series




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