Tag Archives: Amrita

Travel Diaries: Whitewater Rafting at Rishikesh

Memories are strange. At times, you find yourself under the Lockhart Memory Charm, not being able to recollect memories even from the recent past. There are other memories from 10, 15, even 20 years ago which stay crystal clear in your mind, as if it had occurred yesterday.

I have one such memory from 20 years ago, when I was a 5 year old kid. We had gone to Haridwar for the first time then. I remember taking a dip in the mighty Ganges, tightly clinging on to my uncle with one hand and holding on to the steel ropes with the other. The temperature of Haridwar and that of the Ganges was as contrasting as CSK’s and MI’s performances in IPL games. Ma Ganga was freezing cold. I remember my body and teeth shivering even 20 minutes after the ordeal I had with Her. I vaguely remember walking across Ram/Laxman Jhula, feeling accomplished after crossing them, as if I had conquered the mighty Velliangiri hills (Of course, I was a 5 year old then :P). Well, that was 20 years ago.

Last week, I went to Rishikesh again, this time with a set of 6 colleagues-turned-friends, mainly for whitewater rafting.

A lot can happen over lunch. Our two day trip to the adventure capital of India (yes, that’s what Wikipedia calls Rishikesh) materialized during one of our lunch sessions between Office. Over the past one year of my stay here in NCR, I’ve heard a lot of people talk a lot of good things about whitewater rafting in Rishikesh. So when Parkavi Vasan (referred to as “Paaru” going forward) initiated talks about a two day trip to Rishikesh, I was more than game for it.

Nothing about the trip was planned, apart from the onward train from Delhi to Haridwar. I quote my Guru Bhaskar NH, when I say, “If you want to see the real India, travel in a sleeper class train”. We reached Haridwar Junction, early in the morning.

At Haridwar Junstion

At Haridwar Junstion

The roads were deserted and the climate soothing and breezy, with a sense of holiness attached to the Holy city. Tour Managers Adwait and Sumeet found us a makeshift room near the banks of the Ganges.

Streets of Haridwar

Streets of Haridwar

Ganga hadn’t changed much in 20 years; it was as cold and mighty. All of us barring Lijo took a dip in the Holy river.

Ganga, at Haridwar

Ganga, at Haridwar

Manasa Devi Temple was an enjoyable climb of 30-45 minutes, barring the heat, which had set in by then.

View from Manasa Devi

View from Manasa Devi

After munching piping hot Puri with Aloo and Choley for brunch, we left for Rishikesh, which is an hour’s drive from Haridwar.

Hot afternoon at Hardiwar, with Shyam

Hot afternoon at Hardiwar, with Shyam

At Rishikesh, our tour managers started scouting for the tourist agency guys, to book a package for us. We wanted to take a “Camping + Rafting” package which is generally the most sought after package for visiting tourists. There are a lot of other things one could do at Rishikesh – kayaking, rock climbing, flying fox (800m journey on a rope between two cliffs, with Ganges flowing 80 meter below you), among others.

The tourist agency guy took us to a horrible place initially – a nothing place with our tent facing a small hill, with Ganga nowhere to be seen. I was like, “My two colleges (Amrita and IIM Shillong) offered better views than this!” Others were of the same opinion too. So we ditched that guy and started scouting for camps on our own. Deepanshu, Adwait and Sumeet managed to find a beautiful camp, river facing and breezy.

We spent most of the evening playing in the waters and lazing around within the camp premises. It was a great setting. Hundreds of tents on the banks of the river, white sand, cool breeze and a breathtaking view. Remember those “Diu tourism” ads? Something like that. Welcome break from the drudgery of daily life and the noise of the cities. I didn’t want the clock to tick. Sitting there on a chair outside my tent, facing the river, I let my thoughts take over and felt at ease with myself. It was a good feeling.

Outside our tent, Rishikesh

Outside our tent, Rishikesh

Meanwhile, the likes of Lijo, Shyam, Sumeet and Deepanshu were having a ball in the waters, doing some solid stunts. Adwait was showing off his fitness and gymming skills by doing “push-ups” in the water.

At the waters outside our tent

At the waters outside our tent

While the only thing Paaru was doing was shuffling his hair all the time and clicking selfies. Reliable sources reveal he clicked at least 400 selfies of just himself in the tour span of two days.

One of Paaru's 400 selfies of the trip

One of Paaru’s 400 selfies of the trip

There was enough room for all seven of us to sleep in the same tent. The photo session continued in the morning too.



We had booked for a morning rafting session. We had chosen the 18 km package, which had 9 rapids (part of the river where the waves are high, irregular and fast).

I had to deal with a lot of butterflies in my stomach just before our rafting begun. I had heard stories about the boat capsizing in between a rapid and had visualized that happening to our boat. Our instructor’s introduction didn’t help my cause in any way. He warned us that the waters here were mighty and dangerous and if we didn’t follow his instructions to the word, there were chances our boat would capsize.

At Shivpuri, our starting point

At Shivpuri, our starting point

I kept chanting the “Darr kea age Jeet hai” thing in my mind to ease things up.

Just before the ride!

Just before the ride!

For the first 3-5 minutes when we were riding on still waters, our Instructor trained us to the different commands he would be chanting throughout our journey.

Initial stretch

Initial stretch

There are, I came to know, 4 different grades of rapids. Our first rapid was a Grade I rapid and was supposed to be easy to negotiate. We failed. Our motions were not synchronized and the waters took control of us rather than the other way round. We were pushed to the shore and had to start all over again. This time, we successfully surpassed the Grade I rapid.

Grade I rapid, near our camp

Grade I rapid, near our camp

I was just thinking what Grade IV rapids would have on offer.

When the waters were calm!

When the waters were calm!

The second rapid was Grade III and the most thrilling of them all, I realized later. I can’t quite put down that experience in words. My mind went blank. I closed my eyes out of fear, and realized water splashing onto me from all directions. All of us were shouting our lungs out. Then a lot of other things happened and finally we were out of the rapid, onto the still waters. Our instructor shouted “Ganga maiyya kiiiiiii” and we screamed “Jaiiii” in unison. Somewhere in that rapid, my fears drowned and I felt liberated. We came across a few rapids which were trickier, faster and narrower that that one, but now that my fears were conquered, they were all completely enjoyable. Each of those rapids apparently have names too. Roller Coaster, Hilton, Golf Course, Double Trouble and Club house are few names I can recollect now.

One from the internet

One from the internet

We went to a nearby Gurudwara in the evening. My first. Felt good. They offered free food too. That mess hall reminded me of my Amrita mess and the Amrita culture of respecting food above all else.

“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

Cheers to more such trips with awesome set of people.

Why holidays are bad!

I remember starting this blog, some 32 months ago, for sharing experiences from my personal life with the blogosphere. I had christened it My Shillong Diary (MSD) because of my obsession with Dhoni. It was started as a diary and over time, has evolved and encapsulated a number of other topics including (but not restricted to) Cricket, Movies, Music, Travel, Books and random ramblings.

Today’s post is more of a personal one. Almost like taking a leaf out of my personal diary and sticking it out for the world to read. So it was one of my best friend’s wedding on March 8; something I was looking forward to, for quite some time. I had planned for a ten day vacation.

Thanks to Ola Cabs, I almost,missed my flight from Delhi to Chennai. Read more about it, here.

Ernesto’s wedding at Coimbatore was a great opportunity to meet many friends for the first time after college got over (in April 2014). Few of my friends witnessed a South Indian wedding for the first time.

Ernesto's wedding, Coimbatore

Ernesto’s wedding, Coimbatore

After Ernesto’s marriage, Ashok (a Coimbatore local) hosted us for a grand lunch at his place. I ate so heavily that I skipped dinner that night. Savitha even skipped breakfast the next morning. Unknown sources revealed that Ram Prasad was the only guy who had dinner that night.

Abhishek Trivedi (a district level Cricketer) also joined us for the wedding. His interest in the Shaivaite and Vaishnavite cultures and his penchant for exploring South India intrigued even a few locals.

Coimbatore was my second home for four years (I did my under graduation there). Paid my respects to cult places like Annapoorna Gowrishankar, KG Cinemas, RHR Hotel, among others. Couldn’t visit Sita Paani restaurant, our dheivam (God) for close to two years. Hopefully, it stays around till the next time I visit Coimbatore.

Along with Aradh and Abishek, I conquered Velliangiri peak (albeit, at snail’s pace). Read a comprehensive post on Velliangiri, here. And visit the place some time.

I spent a good one week at home, busy getting pampered. And having proper food.

Dadak (an Amerikka Maappillai in the making), was gracious enough to spend an evening with locals like me, Ram and Shreyas. We met after close to three years. At the risk of sounding cliched, I must say we realized almost nothing had changed since the good old Ettimadai days (doesn’t quite have the ring like “Malgudi Days”, but still :P).

From left: Guruji, Terror, Yours truly and Dadak

From left: Guruji, Terror, Yours truly and Dadak

Stalwarts (Class of 2014, IIM Shillong ) from Chennai met at Elliot’s beach for a mini reunion of sorts.

Stalwarts at Elliot's

Stalwarts at Elliot’s

I stayed at a rat infested house for two nights, which also had Pam, Prateek and Sayar living in it.

Oh and yeah, #YoPrateekSoMarketing is a hashtag that’s been doing the rounds in twitter, past one week or so. Unleash the creative genius in you and join in to contribute towards the hashtag and make it a milky way galaxy wide trend, if you know Prateek Gaurav personally.

Few tweets from the hashtag below.

This is exactly why holidays are bad. When they are on, you have the best time in the world, like I did. But like all good things in life, holidays too come to an end and all you have is memories to carry over, till the next holiday season.

On a completely different note, do maintain a personal diary (if you don’t already) and register stuff from your daily life into it. Reading 4-5 year old diary entries and reminiscing about “those” days is one of the most under-rated feelings in the world. My paatti (Grandmom) writes diary entries even today (I think). What’s more, she has a collection of her personal diaries from 50-60 years ago, still.

Enough rambling for the day.

Happy Days @ Amrita, relived

Everyone, no matter how old they are, will always cherish their College days! For most people, it is the best part of their lives. Amrita is a special chapter in my life that would stay with me for years to come.

Today marks the first anniversary of Amrita 2008-2012. I still remember this day one year ago, when I had to say Good bye to the people who were my life for four full years. Today, I try and relive those four years.

>>> The two most common phrases heard inside the campus – “Namah Sivayah” and “Om Amriteshwaryai Namah”

>>> First year days, when the only worry in our minds was about how we performed in periodical exams. Loved those days of Bindaas.


>>> One Day pass 

We had a very religious routine on Sundays. Get the day pass, catch the 7:30 train to Coimbatore, have breakfast @ RHR, watch a movie in KG Cinemas (later Sathyam), have lunch @ Annapurna, take the 4:30 or 7:00 train back to Ettimadai.


>>> Tea-time 

Evening tea was the best time to catch up with what had happened over the day. We’d laugh over a funny incident that happened in class or have a heated discussion on why Rohit Sharma was included in the India squad.

2012-03-08 17.25.45

>>> Playing Cricket

I still remember the first year days when we’d be playing a match in the ground, when our seniors would come mid-way and shoo us away and take the entire ground for themselves. But, Vaazhkai oru vattam. We did the same thing to our juniors as well.

We had the Selva-DMS Trophy (On the lines of Border-Gavaskar Trophy) in third year, named after two legends of Cricket, Selva and Dr. TMS. The  nights before match days would witness strategies being formulated by the teams, team selection meetings and even match practice, some times.


In the final year, we came up with an epic tourney called AECPL (Amrita ECE Cage Premier League) on the lines of IPL. We had a player auction wherein the three captains had to bid for players. My team was named EKSI (Enna Koduma Sir Idhu). We won that tournament.

302012-01-23 16.44.19100_2329

>>> Watching Cricket

Playing and watching cricket are two completely different things. TV room used to be flooded during IPL. CSK vs DC matches were always epic, irrespective of the result. The CSK vs RCB match in which Albie scored 28 off Kohli’s over is still afresh in my mind. Other than that, Sachin’s 200, Sachin’s 175 and all World Cup matches were amazing to watch in the TV room with tens of others.




>>> Swimming

This is one thing that every Amritian is proud of. “Olympic-sized” Swimming pool. Didn’t quite utilize this excellent facility till the final term, during which we went to the pool on almost all evenings.

>>> Canteen

Gone are the days when Choco pastry and OS Milk used to be our staple. I can’t forget the day when the canteen board read “Parrot Kurma – Rs. 25” (they actually meant Parotta Kurma).


It was also a place that witnessed several Class Treats and Birthday treats!


>>> Final year project

The times when we stood helpless in front of the review panel when they used to rip us apart, and the nights before the review when groups sat together and planned how to tackle potential questions from the panel.

>>> German Classes

Though we found it a bit hard to miss cricket to attend German classes initially, we began to love our Prof and the language over due course of time. We (the German students) enjoyed the two weeks when the entire hostel was deserted. Everyone except us, had gone home for the summer vacation.

>>> T.I.M.E Classes

Three days a week for a full year, my evenings were spent in T.I.M.E classes. Didn’t attend many classes in fourth year. I loved the way one of our teachers used “Bloody” in every single sentence of his. Actually I don’t remember his bloody name. We  nick-named him Bloody. But he was a bloody brilliant teacher!

>>> IVs

The IVs to Kodai and Bangalore were both enjoyable. Mekedatu near Bangalore was a new experience.


>>> Tours

Our first ever tour was to Amritapuri to get Amma’s “hug” and blessings. It helped us gel as a batch. Over the course of four years, we visited many places. Ooty, Munnar, Alleppey and Velliangiri, among others.


Velliangiri was an unforgettable trip! I wish to go there, again!


>>> Alloylica

When there’s Metallica, why not Alloylica? That was the rationale behind us choosing Alloylica as the name for our music group. Guru Purnima, Gokulashtami and Amritotsavam were the three main cultural fests. There was one bhajan of ours that became so famous that we rendered it for god-knows-how-many number of times.