Known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, Rishikesh is much more than just that. On one hand, this small town in the state of Uttarakhand is known for its many yoga and healing centers, and on the other, Rishikesh is one of the places in India which has a variety of adventure sports for all kinds of thrill-seekers. Among the many exciting adventures, white water rafting is the most famous one.
River rafting in Rishikesh is divided into five categories based on the level of expertise required. The categories are:
Grade 1: Elementary, small waves. No obstacles.
Grade 2: Medium difficulty with clear passages.
Grade 3: Tough, high intermittent waves, thin passages require careful manoeuvring.
Grade 4: Tough, forceful waves. Very precise manoeuvring required.
Grade 5: Extremely complex, rough, highly congested.
There are numerous agencies which provide rafting packages, some of which can be combined with camping, waterfall and jungle trekking, body surfing, cliff jumping, and bird watching.
If you are short on time, the best is to book a 1N/2D rafting package, which includes staying in camps by the river where you get to enjoy delicious food, bonfires, and beach volleyball the day you arrive, and after breakfast the next day you can proceed with the river rafting along with a view of the many temples, ashrams, and ghats along the Laxman Jhula. Such a package should cost between INR1500-2000 for a 9 km raft, INR1750-2250 for a 16 km raft, INR2000-2500 for a 25km raft, and INR2500-3000 for a 35km raft.
Remember, you can always negotiate on the price – the larger the group of people the more chances of getting a reasonable discount.
There are a lot of other places of importance in Rishikesh which you should not miss on your visit to this town. Some of them are Triveni Ghat, Laxman Jhula, Swarg Ashram, and if you wish to experience a music concert comprising Indian classical music visit the Veena Maharaja Music school, where every Sunday evening at 7, a group of Indian classical musicians gather to entertain and charm the audience with their talented skills and numerous musical instruments.
The nearest airport to Rishikesh is Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport. The distance is approximately 26 km and takes approximately 30-45 mins in a cab from the airport to the city.
If you are planning to take the train, it is best to alight at Haridwar and take a bus (45 mins approx.) or taxi (30 mins approx.) to Rishikesh.
For international tourists coming to India for the first time and arriving in Delhi, hiring a car is a good option as well. It takes about 5-7 hours and $80-$120 depending upon the type of car. Don't opt for prepaid taxis at the airport as they charge really high and there is no scope for bargaining.
One can also take a direct a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh which would take 5-7 hours. Fare depends upon the bus operating agency and the bus type (AC, non-AC, Volvo, Sleeper, non-Sleeper, etc.)