Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Between Black and White

Today is Holi – the festival of colours. To each one of you I wish a very dazzling and a colourful holi. May all the hues of life make the world surrounding us a wonderful and joyous place to live in.

Between White and Black lie all the colours. And when I think of the colours on this special day, I am reminded of an adventure trip that I had been to a few days back along with the closest of my friends which got back the colours in my otherwise monochromatic life like no other in the recent days. I wanted to share the details of the trip from so many days and what better day to share than “Holi” day? So here goes:

Title of the Trip : White water Rafting in the Black river

Venue : River Kali – between Supa dam and Ambikanagar dams – Dandeli, Uttara Kannada district

How did we get there : Dandeli is 481 km by road from Bangalore. We took the NH4 from Bangalore to Dharwad ( via Tumkur, Chitradurga, Davangere, Haveri, Hubli) and then SH28 from Dharwad to Dandeli via Haliyal. In Dandeli, we went to “Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited” to book rafting tickets. The car journey in itself qualifies for a post which will be put up shortly.

Date : 28 February 2009

Total Time : 3 hours (1.5 hours travel + 1.5 hours rafting)

The Team : Gunda, Oie, Tosi, Mama along with navigator Kishen

Cost : Rs. 1300/ per head
Photos : at the left side of this page

Verdict : Totally worth it! Must do for any adventure lover.

The river Kali in Uttara Kannada district is one of those elite rivers in India which defies the normal trend of flowing eastwards. It rises in western ghats and flows westwards towards the Arabian Sea. Kali is the name of a Hindu Godess but the literal sanskrit meaning of the word is “BLACK”. The name is derived from the dark colour of this river attributed to the manganese mineral in these area. The speed of this river is overwhelming and this has led to many dams being constructed along its short course to tap the energy in water and convert it to electricity - Supa, Ambikanagar, Kadra, Kodsalli, etc

The fast flowing river has many rapids at various points across its flow and our rafting trip covered eight such rapids. I was initially very apprehensive about this activity as I have heard rapids are very dangerous. After the trip I came back and did my own research to find out that rapids are divided into classes from one to six, with six being the fastest and most dangerous. Even the most experienced rafters/ swimmers would not survive in such a rapid. I had not known this before. Only thing that I knew then was that I was with a team with whom I was most comfortable and close since childhood. The kind of understanding we had for each other by being good friends since high school days was enough to prepare us for the most dangerous rapids.

We were taken in a jeep to the start point where a raft and navigator was ready for us. They put protective life jackets and helmets and gave us our paddles. We then entered into the river with the raft, little aware what awaited us next. The navigator gave us instructions on how to row forward, backward, get in the raft, sit out, and most importantly – synchronise with each other. We were even pushed out of the raft into the 50 feet deep water for sometime to relieve us of our fear of water and to test the life jackets. We sat in our rafts and rowed towards the first rapid….

Then it came. The first of the eight – the most dangerous, adventurous of them all. I now understand that it was a class 3 rapid. But all I remember of it was the white water gushing in our raft so quickly, engulfing everything in sight and loud, thrilling screams from all of us. This was called Eddie’s beard.

The second rapid was called stitch or division. Stitch because of the treacherous rocks which cause a stitch if we fall there; Division because the river divided into two streams at that point. Did we take the easier stream? We will never know. Then cam the third and fourth – Klaus swim and Stanley’s Squeeze. We just flowed along. It was fun. There was dense green forest on either sides of the river. There were some trees that grew in the middle of the water and our navigator was managing it well by controlling the direction while we rowed. There was this other team of rafters who managed to splash water on us from their paddles. We tried revenge – but could not get it right.

The vegetation got thicker and many bushes started obstructing the flow of the raft. It was here we encountered the fifth rapid. It was called “Garden Gate” and rightly so. The next rapid was truly amazing – “Garden of Eden”. It was in the truest sense of the word – milky white water flowing, lush green vegetaion on either side, just the twitter of birds and canopy all around. Not a single sign of human inhabitation around. This was indeed heaven on earth. It was sad that we had to keep our cameras back. But nature’s miracles had to be enjoyed naturally! The seventh rapid was called “Leopard hole”. All the rapids after the first one were relatively easy and negotiable. This one was no exception. We were again pushed into water for some time to float around for a while. It was here that we learned that crocodiles might be around.

The eighth and the final rapid was the most memorable and exciting of the lot. It was called “Smuggler’s Trove”. It was a class 2 rapid or so. But the most exciting feature here was we were made to row against the stream – not once but four exhilirating times. Each time with a different combination among we four sitting at the front. What we had to do was tough – row and row fast enough against the stream to counter the speed of the rapid and then jump back into the raft and stay there till the speeding water kicked us back into normal direction. There was a chance that the raft could topple. But we did not care. Each time, we rowed along with vigour and met the water head on and enjoyed the kick it gave us. The time where Tosi and Gunda sat at the front was the most exciting and the raft almost toppled – it was the moment of the trip for us. Somehow we manged to get back. The other team’s raft toppled and nature had taken revenge on our behalf :)

We rowed to the endpoint now hoping to find some animals. It was quiet for a while and all of a sudden, our navigator scared the devils out of us by making a loud noise with his paddle. We thought it was a crocodile and panicked while he had his share of laughter.

We finsihed the rafting adventure trip having had so much fun. We had dared to accomplish one of the toughest and costliest adventure sport. Most people would term it as conquering the river. But it is not the river that was conquered. It was just our fear of rafting in the river which had been allayed. In between the black of the river and white of the flow, we had found so many colourful memories that we would treasure for a long while.

PS: Crocodiles do not live near rapids. They are found only near dams. The whole crocodile story was added by Kishen just for the thrill of it. But you never know until you go and find out for yourself :)


Saravanan said...

Wow.. Nice trip..

Water sport is always fun and glad to hear that you had so much fun..

Karthik Kashyap said...

nice post :)

Shashia said...

@Both :

Thanks a lot for your comments