When most people think about the Ganga River, they don’t picture the beauty that is seen in Rishikesh: turquoise blue water winding throughout the green foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Here, the river has its fresh beginnings from the mountains and is clear and pristine. Because of this, and its rapids, many rafting companies have set up shop, and while I never imagined myself rafting on the Ganges River, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
We headed down the block from our school, signed some waivers, hopped in the back of a truck, and headed to the river. Nervous for what was to come, since I had only been rafting once before, I tried to get myself excited for the adventure and an opportunity to bond with my yoga friends. We climbed down a hill, loaded into the raft, and got our instructions.
Not long after, we hit our first rapid and for a minute, I regretted my decision to take the adventure. We were hit hard with the waves, and it felt as if we were going to flip over. But, after we made it through without flipping, we laughed and smiled soaking wet in our seats. If we hadn’t planned on swimming in the Ganga before, there was no excuse now. At one of the calm sections, and again in the calmer rapids, several of us jumped in for a swim. Never did I expect to be swimming in the Ganga, but this trip was full of surprises.
The water was freezing cold, but clean and refreshing, waking us up in the early morning. The moments between rapids were serene and scenic. Monkeys hopped from rock to rock and the green mountains rolled along the river; it felt like another world.
We eventually reached a point where there was a waterfall and the opportunity for cliff jumping. A few of the people in our group took the brave dive, but I sat with a cup of chai, choosing instead to observe.
After some time, we got back into our raft and headed on our way for one more rapid and the end of our rafting excursion. Of course, we took advantage of the beautiful beach we landed on and had a small photo shoot before heading back home.
If you ever find yourself in Rishikesh, take the opportunity to raft and swim in the Ganga. Once you see the beauty of the area from the water, it’s even easier to appreciate India’s holiest river.