Thursday, March 16, 2006
Living on the Ganges
With a lot of time to kill while we waited for the convocation which has been conviniently scheduled for this Saturday, most of our batch took a short trip in the past 5 days. For our small group - the destination was the white waters of the Ganges. With my love for water, I am surprised I haven't been on a rafting trip before. I think the experience was worth the wait. It was one of my prettiest vacations in a long time.
We started the trip with Rajaji National park and it actually might be a misnomer to call it that - it is just a beautiful piece of forest with a meandering stream of the river crisscrossing through its lands. We hardly sighted any animals except for deers on our open Safari ride through the forest. The weather made the trip not only pleasant but very pretty, and the comfortable huts on the bank of a canal made the stay worthwhile.
After a day's halt, we hit the final destination - Rishikesh. We were totally full of plans (and very exceited) about our adventure break - rafting, paragliding, rappling etc etc. It was a bit of a let-down when we realized that except rafting none of it was happening in this season. So even though we were planning to push the rafting to the next day, we embarked on it immediately. And was it fun! We started from a point called Shivpuri (which means 17 km of rafting), and immediately started hitting the good rapids. Though I must say, I never expected rafting to be work. I mean no one told me that we would have to row the entire stretch ourselves, and that too in gushing water!
Nevertheless, even the rowing bit was good. In the first strong rapid (Roller Coaster), one man in front of me fell down into the roaring water. If there was a frission of fear I felt during the whole trip, it was in that moment. I don't really trust my swimming skills or more importantly (in this case) my navigation skills in such turbulent waters.
The Golf course rapid following the Roller Coaster was even better - it was almost certain that the boat was going to capsize (its not really unexpected during rafting btw). One thing I have to say - the rapids have been really innovatively named - The Wall, Return to Sender, Golf Course, Three Blind Mice...
We also jumped a couple of times into the water - which was freezing cold. It is fun trying to swim in ice-cold water with life jackets on :) But I have never felt the peace that I feel lying flat on the water, gazing at the sky, for all sounds drown into the soft splashes of the water, and all you see is naked nature. And for a moment, life does come to a gratifying halt.
Anyways, after having so much fun, another rafting expedition was compulsary. Even with arms broken with rowing, we were all enthu to go again. So after spending a quiet day walking through Rishikesh (which is not fun untill you hit the German bakery and have delicious food), we went for another round - this time clubbing it with camping which was supposed to be the icing of the cake.
And this was undoubtedly the best icing on cake that I have ever hit on. The sand beach along ganges was awesome! It was a huge stretch of white sand, surrounded by mountains and water and no one but the eight of us and a couple of camp staff. It was almost as if peace was being handed over to us on a platter after two years of madness in a cagey and loud B-school life. We had the most wonderful time by the camp fire, stuffed with really delicious dinner served in the camp. It was almost a full moon night and the camp was lit by nothing more than the moon and a couple of lanterns.
In the morning, we played beach volley, lied down on the beach and read books. It has been the most idyllic vacation I have dreamt of and lived.
The camping was followed by rafting, and this was one of the best stretch of rafting in terms of scenic beauty. It had begun to rain and the clouds were trying to wrap the surrounding hills and make them invisible. For most part, it almost looked like we were in the waters of Emyn Muil of LOTR and would soon see the twin towers!
The rain of course soaked us to the hilt and we couldnt stop shivering for a moment through the whole of the waterpath. But even through the clacking teeth I could but repeat - It is simply awesome. Hope I can return to the soothing sounds of the river as often as I want...