Best River Rafting In India

   Best River Rafting In India
Published Date: 6th Jul 2022

      River rafting is undoubtedly one of the most enthralling and physically demanding adventure sports in the world. The adrenaline rush and the excitement experienced while riding and tumbling down the white waters of fast-flowing rivers across boulder strewn beds is simply unmatched by any other sport. In fact, India is the go-to destination for river rafting, owing to the powerful rivers that offer `raft-worthy’ rapids, like Teesta, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Zanskar and Indus, gushing down from the enormous heights of the Himalayas across suspended gorges and high cliffs, bordered by lush greenery.

On the basis of difficulty in white water rafting, the rivers are graded on five grades, ranging from easy and simple to extremely dangerous.

Grade I (Skill required-Very basic): Smooth water with little current.

Grade II (Skill required-Basic paddling skills): Small rapids with bubbling current, rough water and maybe a few rocks.

Grade III (Skill required-Experienced paddling skills): Small waves with a small drop that’s not dangerous. It is exciting and technical and therefore calls for a professional guide.

Grade IV (Skill required-White water rafting experience): Big rapids with medium waves, maybe a few rocks and a considerable drop. 

Grade V (Skill required-Advanced white water rafting experience): Large waves with large volume and possibility of huge rocks, a large drop and hazards.


Some of the popular places for river rafting in India are

1. Ganga River at Rishikesh

Rishikesh, world-renowned as the River Rafting Capital of India, offers some of the most sought after rafting tours. There are mainly four starting points for rafting in Rishikesh, namely Kaudiyala(35km, 5hrs), Shivpuri (16km, 3hrs), Marine drive (27km, 4hrs), and Brahmapuri (9km, 2hrs).The 16 km stretch from Shivpuri to Lakshman Jhula, rich with whirlpools, on the Ganges River at Rishikesh is acclaimed as one of India’s most popular stretches for white water rafting. With about 13 curiously named rapids like the Roller Coaster, Return to Sender, Three Blind Mice, Tee Off, Double Trouble and Golf Course, ranging from grade 1 to grade 4, along this stretch, it is a perfect escapade for amateur rafters as well as the hardened veterans. 

Difficulty Level: Grade I - Grade IV

Distance Covered: 9 km - 36 km


2. Teesta River at Sikkim and Darjeeling

The enchanting freezing waters of the rugged Teesta River have grade 3 and 4 rapids with varying character and intensity that invite the go-getting adventurers, who are experienced rafters, to have the spine chilling river rafting experience. Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hill Region’s main river, Teesta that arises at Cho Lhamu Lake and flows down the mountains, creates bubbling white rapids, literally custom-made for rafting or kayaking. Even though this river isn’t much developed, it is swiftly earning a reputation for being one of the world’s finest white water rafting stretches as one can witness some of the most scenic riverside landscapes in the Himalayan region along this passage. The shortest run on the Teesta is between Makha and Rongpo, a trip of just two and a half hours; and amongst the longer and more demanding runs on the river are the stretches between Dikchu and Teesta Bridge and between Bordang and Melli.

Difficulty Level: Grade I - Grade IV

Distance Covered: 11 km - 37 km


3. Brahmaputra River (Lohit River) at Arunachal Pradesh

Brahmaputra River, both ferocious and mystifying, cuts the Greater Himalayas, gushes down at great speed into the Tibet region, forms dangerous gorges and deep trenches along the way and reaches Arunachal Pradesh. The incredible 13 to 18 days long river rafting expedition initiates at Tuting and finally ends after 180 kms of rafting in the placid waters of Pasighat.

Rafting on the Brahmaputra River is enormously challenging and only if you are an expert rafter, can you raft on its grade 3-5 rapids like the Roaring Rikor, Zebra Rock, Moying Madness, Toothfairy and the Pulsating Pulsi. While rafting on the Brahmaputra run, you will come across some amazing gorges, dense tropical forests and remote hill sides; and witness a distinct rich culture of tribal settlements. You will also get to see Ganges river dolphins, rare Siberian migratory birds, some unparalleled locations and remarkable sceneries along the way.

Difficulty Level: Grade III- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 180km


4. Dandeli – Karnataka

Dandeli, around 125 km from Goa, home to the majestic Kali River, is a popular rafting destination in Karnataka. The swift Kali River with rapids graded between 2 and 3, positioned on the margins of Goa and Maharashtra, serves as a splendid white water rafting site for beginners (9 km run) as well as experienced rafting enthusiasts (14 km run). Being positioned around 1,800 feet above sea level, bordered by lush tropical rain forests; the area receives rainfall almost throughout the year and thus has a superb climate all year round that attracts tourists in large numbers.

Of all the rapids located at river Kali, the first two rapids are the most crucial ones, respectively named as Adi’s Beard and The Stitch. The other rapids are named as the Stanley’s Squeeze, the Smugglers’ Trove, etc. Besides rafting, you can enjoy Overnight Camping, Rappelling, Bird sighting, and Jungle Safari in the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.

Difficulty Level: Grade II- Grade III

Distance Covered: 9km to 14km


5. Kundalika River at Kolad, Maharashtra

Kolad, home to the fastest river in West India, Kundalika has an exceptional 16 km stretch with rapids ranging from Grade 2 to 4 making it the perfect destination for the thrill seeking rafters.  Set against the splendid Western Ghats and nestled in the virgin forests below the Bhira and Mulshi Dams, the Kundalika white water rafting site is an idyllic place to start your rafting trip.

The ideal time for rafting on Kundalika is from June to January, the monsoon season as the water levels are high. Rafting here also depends on the periodic water release from the Mulshi Dam. Apart from river rafting, you can also engage in rock climbing, river rappelling, parasailing and kayaking. You can also visit other attractions in the vicinity like Tamhini Falls, Ghosala Fort, Kuda Caves, Tala Fort, etc.

Difficulty Level: Grade II- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 16km


6. Zanskar River - Ladakh

Rafting on Zanskar River, arisen from the confluence of the Tsarap and Stod Rivers near the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, is one of the world’s most exotic rafting expeditions. While rafting down the Zanskar in Ladakh, enthrall witnessing the unparalleled beauty of the region; discover the spectacular landscape with hillside villages, hilltop monasteries, lofty snow-capped peaks, deep gorges and glimpses of the exceptional wildlife.

The Padum–Nimmu run, with grade 3 and 4 rapids in between, is a popular run on the Zanskar, suitable only for the fairly experienced white water rafters as it is a 10 to 14 days trip that involves camping out in the wild. In fact, Padum (approx. 12,000 ft) is the highest rafting location in the world, from where the river traverses through the deep gorges and flows across coarse hostile terrain of Ladakh, world’s one of the sparsely inhabited and remotest regions. The sheer walls of the deep gorges, found on the way, rise thousands of feet above the river bed and are renowned as the 'Grand Canyon' of Asia.

Difficulty Level: Grade III- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 25km – 30km


7. Indus River at Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

The Indus originates in Tibet and flows through the cold landscape of Ladakh and it is therefore extremely cold. The rapids in some places are of grades 1 and 2 and in other places of grades 3 and 5. The most challenging part of the rafting route lies between Alchi and Khalsi, where a kilometer-long stretch of rapids makes the rafters scream in excitement. The river has several rafting points, namely- Phey to Indus Zanskar confluence at Nimo, Phey to Nimo, Upshi to Nimo, Upshi to Kharu. The rafting season here is usually from July to September. Camping along the river is also a great option as you get to experience the thrill and the beauty of Nature hand in hand. Indus is the longest river in Asia is stretched over 3,180 kilometers

Difficulty Level: Grade III- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 25km


8. Barapole River at Coorg

If you are more of a gentle rapids kind of a rafter, then Coorg is the place for you. You can raft in River Barapole in Coorg, Dakshina Kannada; where the river flows down the Western Ghats along the Deccan Plateau. The upper section has 4 to 5 rapids between Grades 2 and 4 and the lower sections has about 6 to 7 rapids. The rapids also go by gentle names except one – How about Morning Coffee (Grade 2), Grasshopper (Grade 3), The Ramba Samba (Grade 2), The Wicked Witch (Grade 3), Big Bang (Grade 4) and Milky Churn. The rafting season starts from the monsoon months and runs till post monsoon time (July to September).

Difficulty Level: Grade II- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 8km


9. Beas River - Kullu Manali

The Beas flows in the Kullu Valley, sometimes idyllic and sometimes exhilarating experience to its rafters and rafting is a 14-kilometer stretch that begins at Pirdi and continues till Jhiri. Rapids of grades 1 to 4 make this a real joy ride. A day of rafting can leave you satiated with memories of an adventure that will last you a lifetime. River rafting is available throughout the year except during the period from 15-July to 15-September.

Difficulty Level: Grade I- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 14km


10. Alaknanda River - Uttarakhand

The most thrilling of all the rapids is the Alaknanda River flowing in Uttarakhand.  The second-largest tributary of the mighty Ganga offers the ultimate river rafting experience over a 25- kilometer stretch between the Chamoli and Rudraprayag. Rafting here is among one of the most difficult and challenging sites and you can prepare yourself to tackle over 75 to 80 grade 3 to 4 rapids. The grade 5 ‘Hillary Fall’ is an experience to die for – it is named after Sir Edmund Hillary’s upstream jet boat expedition known as “Ocean to Sky”. If you are an adventure freak, put this one as a must-do on your list. It offers a beautiful view of the many valleys of Uttarakhand. The best time to visit is generally between the months of September and June.

Difficulty Level: Grade IV- Grade V

Distance Covered: 25km


11. Yamuna River - Uttarakhand

The Yamuna river rafting offers an exciting experience to both amateurs and experienced rafters. It has two stretches - one from Nainbagh to Juddo, and the other from the Yamuna bridge to Juddo. The Nainbagh - Juddo stretch offers as many as 3 rapids and is the most preferred among rafters. Even though the Ganga remains the much more popular option for rafting in the country, many have been discovering the wonders of the rafting experience in the Yamuna over the recent years. The best time for rafting is from mid-September to mid-June.

Difficulty Level: Grade I- Grade III

Distance Covered: 9km


12. Spiti River - Himachal Pradesh

Rafting along the winding Spiti river, nestled in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is an extremely fun experience, where you could spend as much as 6 days on the water! The scenery offers glimpses of local villages, foliage, as well as snow-covered glaciers. The rafting starts from the Tuting region, and covers Pasighat, with the endpoint being Sumdo. It covers a total of a staggering 180 km. The best time to visit is in the months of July and August. If you are an adventure lover you would love to raft through some awesome rapids as you pass through the vast landscapes, high ridges, glaciers, pastures and mountain tops then go for this spot. Rafting in these areas gives you access to beautiful places that can’t be reached otherwise.

Difficulty Level: Grade 2- Grade IV

Distance Covered: 180km

So rafting is as chilled out or as extreme as the rapids along the route. It is an amazingly adrenaline-pumping experience that will surely get us hooked on rapids! Which you couldn’t help but being seized by a desire to do it over again.