From the melting glaciers of the Himalayan rooftops rises the mighty Ganges, a river so sacred that it is worshipped by millions living in the Indo-Gangetic plains. The mighty river crisscrosses through the country pivoting across fjord, tributaries, rapids and streams, providing a life force that is the source of ancient Indian traditions, agriculture and commerce. As the river passes through one of the holiest sites of Hinduism — Rishikesh, it is clean, clear, and inspiring.
The river-town holds special meaning to Bhupendra Singh Rana, who is India’s first Rescue3 International Instructor. As a child he’d watch kayakers battle the rapids all day long. Inspired by these kayakers from around the world, who made a living off this, he decided to pursue professional kayaking.
Bhupendra or Bhupi as his friends call him reveals, “You are living in the moment and can’t think beyond running those rapids!” He adds, “To be a professional kayaker who earns money, it takes training hard and countless hours of practice. It’s a time-consuming process to gain experience before hucking the waterfalls and downhill extreme kayaking.” This sport is for the disciplined he cautions, “When pushing your limit, it is also important to know your own limits, prepare well and think about the consequences. Extreme kayaking shows no mercy if you mess it up.”
Planning is the key when running waterfalls, and reminisces about the 30-feet drop he recently made for Rushes “Home Waters” episode in Rishikesh. Rana says, “I scout above, during, and below the waterfall and then devise a plan of action. I plan out my lines and try to stay on that line and angles when I run the waterfalls. While falling over the cliff, all I am thinking about is to just land correctly and waiting for the impact on my body.”
The thrill he reveals is second-to-none. “I hold onto my position in the kayak and it feels like a never ending free falling. I live for adventure and the thrill of trying something for the first time. Waterfalls give me that thrill each time,” he adds. “The feeling one gets when free falling off of a waterfall sticks with you forever. Overall, it’s simply just a fun experience that I cannot even properly express with words."
He says that India is well-endowed with natural rapids and waterfalls adding, “The Himalayan range in Northern India has many unexplored rivers. The world’s rainiest region in Meghalaya with its thick forest cover has some rivers that have yet to be paddled in. Western and Southern India get hit hard during the monsoon seasons making their rivers and waterfalls much more powerful bodies of water during this time. The mix of different seasons in India allows for there to always be a variety river types to be run.”
Eking a living out of kayaking is not easy. However, you could work as a safety kayaker for rafting companies and run kayaking schools. India does have a huge scope for adventure tourism and kayaking with the right people paving the way. He organises the Ganga Kayak Festival — an annual International kayak festival that takes place at the holy confluence of rapids at Devprayag, Uttarakhand in February. This is the place where the mighty Ganga (Ganges) forms after the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers. He also counts The Malabar Fest (Kerala in July), Ladakh Kayak Festival (Ladakh in August) and Kali River Festival (Karnataka in July).
As he parts ways Bhupendra tells us about his company Rescue India, “Rescue India is the first water and rope rescue training company (established in 2015) based in Rishikesh, India. There is a desperate need for a standardised training for people that are involved in situations where water and rope rescue techniques are required. The classes are taught in a hand’s on manner which enables the students to gain skills that help them to think and act critically in crisis situations. This teaching technique prepares the students for rope and water rescue situations.
The courses are taught by Rescue 3 International, Sierra Rescue International and International Rafting Federation (IRF) certified instructors. These courses are for those people who work both on and off the river. If you are a river guide, safety kayaker, fireman, flood rescue personnel or someone who just wants to learn more about water and rope rescue techniques then this course is the one for you! The classes will take place all across India, Asia Pacific and globally. If you have a group of students who are interested in taking our classes then contact us and we will come to you. Rescue India courses are taught in both Hindi and English to avoid any language barriers for the local community.”
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