What Rishikesh means to an individual depends on the type of individual you ask. For religious Indians, it is a holy city; for spiritual ones, it is a place of yoga and meditation; and for adrenaline junkies, it is a place to indulge in adventure.

Rishikesh – the gateway to adventure

Rock-climbing, trekking, mountaineering, bungee jumping and many more; Rishikesh is an adventure seeker’s paradise offering a range of activities to satisfy that lust for thrill and excitement. One adventure sport stands out among the rest and that is river rafting in Rishikesh.

rafting in rishikesh

Rafting in Rishikesh

For devout Indians, the Ganges is a pilgrimage spot. For experienced rafters, the river will make you pray, but because you’re about to face a big wall of water in the next rapids! The Ganges offers some of the most thrilling rapids in India. When rafting in Rishikesh, be prepared to get drenched and to get tossed about.

It is the challenging nature of the Ganges that has made Rishikesh rafting famous not only in India but all over the world. A number of international rafting enthusiasts come down to the city every year from all over the world to tame the mighty rapids.

When to go rafting in Rishikesh

The peak season for rafting in Rishikesh is during the summers and the early months of winter. During these months, a huge number of rafters descend upon the city. Rafting in the monsoon is dangerous because the river is too wild to be tamed by even the most experienced rafter. Most operators shut down operations between June to September.

Between October to December, the water will be cold as it comes down from the mighty Himalayan peaks, but between January to March, the river is freezing cold. Some people love the thrill of the cold water and the misty Rishikesh mornings in winter. But many people prefer to go in summer because the water is refreshingly cold in the hot sun.

What to expect during rafting in Rishikesh

The most popular stretch for Rishikesh rafting starts from Kaudiyala, located about 40 kilometres by road from the city. The aqua green river and the white sandy beaches add to the scenic beauty of the rafting experience.

After meeting your instructor and getting a short briefing, you’ll put on your gear and it’s all aboard! As you paddle out in a peaceful stretch, you’ll quickly learn the hang of how to use your paddles. After that, you’ll head to the rapids where you’ll battle the rapids and enjoy a thrill-a-minute ride! When you have successfully passed the rapids, you’ll row towards a calm part of the river so you can enjoy swimming or try cliff jumping.

rishikesh rafting

What rafting stretch should you book?

River rafting in Rishikesh serves up 13 rapids that range from Grade II all the way to IV+ which means there is something for everyone. The most famous rapids are The Wall, Three Blind Mice, Terminator, Roller Coaster, and Black Money.

If you are a total beginner, have kids, or are looking for a peaceful rafting experience, you can choose the 9 km stretch from Brahmapuri to Rishikesh. The rapids in this stretch are mild, consisting of Grade II rapids. This has fun rapids like Double Trouble, Initiation, Hilton, and Terminator that are suitable for beginners.

If you are a beginner looking for an exciting ride, try the 16 kms stretch from Shivpuri to Rishikesh. This is the most popular choice and is comparatively challenging and consists of Grade II and III rapids. In this stretch, you’ll battle rapids like Three Blind Mice, Crossfire, Roller Coaster, Golf Course, and more.

The next stretch is a longer one, at 27 kms from Marine Drive to Rishikesh. This stretch offers rapids of Grade I, II, and III. It consists of 14 rapids and is perfect for rafters with some experience under their belt. This is a popular choice for corporate groups or groups of young people looking for a longer experience. On this stretch, you’ll meet rapids like The Wall, Return to Sender, Club House and more.

The fourth and longest stretch is the 36 kms stretch from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh. It is a long stretch consisting of Grade I, II, III and IV rapids. It also goes through one of the most difficult rapids in Rishikesh – The Wall (a Grade IV+ rapid). This is a long stretch requiring higher levels of endurance and skill, making it suitable only for experienced rafters.

Things to do in Rishikesh

River rafting in Rishikesh has even seen an uptick in popularity amongst Indian leisure travellers as adventure and experiential travel becomes more popular. This has prompted Uttarakhand Tourism to encourage the tour operators as well as campsites in and around the city. No matter what your budget is, you’ll find somewhere to stay in Rishikesh.

Even if you would prefer not to do rafting in Rishikesh, you can still enjoy an adventure holiday here. There are beautiful spots for camping in Rishikesh – with budget tents, luxury tents, cabins, and full AC cottages to choose from. The authorities have banned camping on the river beach but there are many lovely campsites a short walk away from the river.

While in Rishikesh, you can do a kayaking course, go bungee jumping, try the Flying Fox or Giant Swing, or do easier activities like rappelling and zip-lining at the campsites.

Related reading: