River Rafting in River Kali, Dandeli

After the hype of the last post, I am going to have to disappoint you a little bit. The gypsies were very much there…. not ethnic Romani people but peasants and villagers from around North Karnataka. Lots of them had gathered at an ancient Shiva temple located near Dandeli for the full moon of the Hindu month of Magh. The following new moon of Magh is the very famous Maha Shivaratri – the biggest day for yogis and Shiva followers around the world!

These rural folk were leaving after a 7 day celebration at the ancient temple, and the Dandeli roads were jammed with their trucks, carts, lorries and what-not vehicles! It was such a bright and colorful fanfare! They were carrying sacks of vegetables, poultry and other foodstuffs with them. At meal time the ladies got big pots and pans, started a fire on the side of the road and started cooking meals!

I have seen villagers often, but never such a colorful, traveling group! It was quite a site and brought to mind all the stories of gypsies in caravans – hidden romances, mischief, noise, stories of joys and sorrows.

Colorful cart with tyre dangling behind. Downhill if brakes are needed a person will stand on this tyre…

I noticed some incredible things like lots of carts had bells tied to their wheels (maybe to warn other vehicles on the road at night?), they had tyres hanging out at the back – a person would stand on it so it acts as a brake when the cart goes downhill (!!) and on another instance a truck full of a family with kids and elders actually had a ladder to climb on and off it! Innovative and so interesting!

Colorful cart in motion
Colorful cart in motion

Sadly I didn’t get a chance to take some good photos – partly cause I am a shy about making them conscious that they are a novelty! Partly also because I wasn’t carrying my camera on me while I passed these people because I was going River Rafting! That brings me to the next part of this post – some awesome River Rafting in the Kali river!

I haven’t river rafted elsewhere in South India, but apparently this is the most genuine river rafting experience you can have. It is a 9 km long stretch with 6 rapids. The rapid grades are pretty good, two of them have high grades and give you a real thrill. Horbills, Eagles, Cormorants, Egrets are commonly visible during the rafting. There is also a small section which is like the backwaters – so very enjoyable!

Dandeli River Rafting
Approaching the first rapid…

Apart from the River itself, the rafting experience was conducted with a lot of fanfare. As we boarded the raft and went out onto the calm river we got instructions about paddling – forward, back, get down and so on. This is usual but after that we were all asked to jump into the river as a prep – in case the raft turned over in any of the rapid , we shouldn’t panic. So we jumped down, most of us had a good time floating around, some who were scared of water screamed for a while. We then re-boarded the raft – it was quite a bit of fun! After that we were off towards the rapids… all through we continuously paddled, ‘got down’ into the raft when the rapid hit us and immediately got back to paddling. Overall it was a fun experience, only thing is that the rapids don’t really justify the major prepping – “when the raft overturns….” I think these instructions are more like a formality I doubt that rafts actually overturn! Mostly people end up jumping into the river themselves for the fun of it….

Dandeli River Rafting
Woohooo…. rapids ahoy!

Previously I had river rafted in Manali, that was another brilliant experience. Being amidst the Himalayas on the mighty Beas river is just exhilarating. We hardly got any prep there… even the paddling while we were in the raft was minimal… so on this comparative calmer stretch of Kali the prepping seems over the top.

The other major difference in the river rafting experience was the lack of facilities. There are absolutely no changing rooms or any such facility here in Dandeli. Its very surprising considering that we are all asked to jump into the river which means everyone is for sure dripping wet. Once the rafting is over we have to head back to the place we stay to change and clean up. This place is usually an hours drive. The climate was quite warm when we were there so it wasn’t much of a problem but in colder climate this might be a problem. Overall I am just surprised at the lack of facilities, but it was still a lot of fun!

Dandeli River Rafting
We all live in a Yellow Submarine… Yellow Submarine…

This is why I was not carrying my camera with me when I went river rafting, so couldn’t click awesome pics of the gypsy troops! 🙂

I did click another bunch of awesome pictures though, everyone who sees them asks me whether I went to Ladakh too! Stay tuned… next post! 🙂

Dislcaimer: Thanks dandeli.com