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Friday, April 6, 2012

Big rush of tourists at rafting terrain along the Ganga

Rishikesh, April 5
With the summer season peaking and the annual examinations of schools over, suddenly a huge rush of tourists is being witnessed at the rafting terrain along the Ganga river in Rishikesh.
Such is the rush that the whole rafting route from Kaudiyala-Shivpuri to Muni-Ki-Reti is abuzz with colourful rafts and enthusiastic rafters.
Not only is the river route witnessing congestion but also the Rishikesh-Sringar Garhwal-Badrinath highway stretch till Kaudiyala is witnessing traffic jams as rafting companies' vehicles fetching rafts and tourists are plying in large numbers to and from on this route.
If this is any indication, then in the coming days in later part of this month, when the world-famous Char Dham pilgrimage yatra of Shri Badrinath, Shri Kedarnath ,Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines along with Hemkund Sahib gets started, then one can imagine the huge rush on this route.
In the past couple of years a large number of rafting tour agencies have mushroomed in this area that is one of the finest rafting routes in the whole country,often regarded as a paradise for rafters.
Notably, the 36-km stretch from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh has more than 30 camping sites with a levelled flow of Ganga water making it quite safe and convenient for rafting experience. Not only domestic but a large number of foreign tourists also throng this rafting zone, which is closed during monsoon season as the water level and flow is quite high during this period.
As this is the peak season for the rafting business, tourist flow is bound to increase here, which the administration should ensure proper facilitie.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department has started a drive in this rafting zone to ensure that no illegal rafting or activity takes place in this forest area. Forest Inspector Rakesh Chand told TNS that impromptu drives are being carried out to check rafts without number plates being sailed in the river.
He added that in the past, too, several rafts were seized and many rafting operators tried to ply non- registered rafts to escape various taxes.
Anirudh Rawat, a rafting agency owner at Tapovan, who has been into this business for the past five years, said that taking into account the huge rush being witnessed this season, they are expecting record turnout of adventure-loving tourists.
While Deepak Bhatt of Rafting Association said that they are already getting bookings and inquiries in bulk, particularly from corporates, educational institutes and foreign firms for which they are acquiring new rafts and equipment to meet the demand.

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