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Live your dreams

That is what the advertisements all over media, hoarding shouted at me. My family and I were waiting for the exams to be over, luckily for us in CBSE board it was over in March .

I had decided to go to Himalayas  to witness the white water river rafting challenge at Deoprayag and Shivpuri. There were online kiosks outside internet cafes in many cities for people to participate in a computer generated rafting challenge sponsored by Four Sqaure. They wanted to select Team FQ made of amateurs all over India who were to be trained for 3 weeks at Shivpuri to participate with the International competition on March 20 to 24th 2001. They selected fit swimmers of younger age and especially those with previous rafting experience.

We met few of them at Devprayag watching the events with us. Only 3 Indian teams of Punjab Police, ITBP and BSF were selected to compete with teams from USA, Australia, South Africa, Russia , Siberia, Indonesia. All of them, we met in the Shatabdi coach from Delhi to Haridwar. I and 2 daughters were thrilled to be with them and the organisers of the event, moment we started the trip.

Some of them were talkative. The Indonesians told us about Asahan river Challenge. They shared with us the program so that we could attend the events .We got down at Haridwar and made our arrangements to reach Camp Kaudiyala GMVN 36 kms upstream Rishikesh . We reached there without even a tea break at Rishikesh which was congested and a disappointment.

The camp Kaudiyala is the best possible and the most economical good facility on Ganges .You see as the river is formed by Mandakini merging with Bhagirathi at Devprayag and flows in its purest form till Haridwar when man made canals eat into it and city pollution flows in. Perched on a height of 500 ft with sound of river flow and Daniel's deep rapid as a constant Meditative hum, a peaceful stay here should be the beginning of all trips ahead into the Higher Garhwal.

The aluminium and cement sheet cottages are good with electricity and family can stay here without the Tent stay problems. There are more than 20 tented camps between Shivpuri and Devprayag and those more enthusiastic can opt for Delhi and back packages of Rafting with stay at these camps. Rafting can be arranged by GMVN or you can arrange by nearby private camps too. Rs. 1800 per raft with 4-5 people between Marine drive to Shivpuri is the tariff for individual trips.

My arrangements went haywire as a Minister had arrived at our camp and was to inaugurate the river rafting so GMVN rafting staff was gone with him ! Only the Manager, GMVN had arranged for a private river guide for us that saved our valuable vacation day .We enjoyed our trip on rapids like three blind mice, body shopping and others till we reached Shivpuri wet ,cold on March day but still excited about our first rafting   drove back to Kaudiyala in an open truck of RIMO rafters after thanking the river guides and taking photographs.

Next day we left Kaudiyala and went to Devprayag where we were to witness the Aqua dash event of Rafting Challenge. We climbed down to rocky beach of Bhagirathi river which is more "tempestuous". The only thing lacking in the organisation of the event was a total disdain for die hard tourists like us NOT staying with celebrities at Snow leopard or Indian Adventurers camp . No information was dissipated even in local papers or to GMVN offices about exact timetable of each event, its location .

Expecting these organisers to be large hearted and focusing NOT only on comfort of foreigners /participants  but propagation of this rare vent amongst locals lay or rafting guides was to expect too much. While Four Sqaure spent a great deal of money and efforts to propagate this event in print and TV media they failed to have any information web site or kiosks in Locations for some body like us who took the live your dreams ad seriously and traveled all the wa y from Gujarat in March month with 3 children in tow!!

In all probability these organisers were self contained not worrying about spectators at all. They had only one from outside the Devprayag i.e. us !! They missed out to all the youth of Garhwal and Dehradun who if had exact event and location time table would have loved to witness such a grand event. Another great miss usual to Indian organisers was there were no local amateur team even as a non competitive participant from 22 rafting camps each having 2/3 Nepali-Garhwali river guides.

They could have gained inspirational experience to be with the greater firangi champions and share their experiences. I would have loved to have a large hearted meeting between local garhwali rafters and firangis brought about by grace of Influential Organisers like snow leopard. But under estimating locals and brethren is the bane of all great Indian sports and event organisers.

May large hearted spirit prevail upon those who decide everything in all sports in India so that we get locals to be at helm not some Delhi socialite whose dreams were lived by organising such a grand event . May be sponsors who did a great job in PR before the event actually multiply their goodwill to many by local info sharing and participation.

But it was a great spectacle as 2 rafters slided down the ropes to reach other side of river flow and meet their other 2 paddlers. They  now paddle and pass though gates hung by ropes across the river span. Red gates were for going up against the current. We enjoyed this and left Devprayag for Chandrabadani 9000 feet temple.

Rest of the events we missed as they planned them down stream while we were to travel up.We wanted to see greater Himalayas so we stayed overnight at the temple and saw sunset and rise in the morning with rains, rainbow and biting cold. From here we took Tehri road , saw the massive dam being built and made our own amateur opinions about its eco challenge and drove on seeing the Bhilangana river meet Bhagirathi at old Tehri. New tehri is the Asia's largest rehabilitation project completed but people there want more!

Next two nights we were in Dhanaultee and Mussourie having relaxed holiday of a standard hill station with snow views and water fall bathing at Kempty. After last day at Old hotel Savoy with a large three room suite at most off season rate we drove back to Delhi for a train back home.

All the while I was planning how next to explore the four major directions /routes to unparalleled beauty i.e. four dhams of Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. each route to be enjoyed in minimum one week seeing every point of Mythology and natural beauty peacefully. Next time ...

By Dr Hemant Sant MS
E-mail hasant@vsnl.com,
94, Ashutosh Nagar ,
Karelibaug, Vadodara ,
Gujarat.India 390018.