Kayaking in India

A&W Magazine

What is Kayaking

Kayaks have been described as ‘those smart little, slim littlecrafts’. The sight of a kayaker g
oing through a rapid will definitely make its Eskimo inventor (who designedsuch a vessel for huntingsea
ls) turn in his icy grave! Alternately known as paddling, kayaking involvestravelling on water using
a kayak, a narrow boat manoeuvred by a double-blade paddle. A kayaksomewhat resembl
es a fishing boat, and usually comes fitted with a covered deck.

There are two forms of kayaking – white-water kayaking, wherethe paddler negotiates rapids and waterfalls, and ocean kayaking, where thekayak is piloted in open water or on a lake. White-water ka
yaking requires a great degree of skill (and is a lot more exciting thanrafting).

Kayaks are available in solo or tandem (for one or morepersons), and are famed for their m
anoeuvrability, accessibility, adaptability and versatility; there is nowaterway that these splendid “little” boats cannot negotiate. Kayaking, truly,is a delight, a much more laid- back activity than rafting.

History of Kayaking

The kayak is the invention of the Inuit people of the Arcticregion, who used it for hunting. The first k
ayaks were powered by single-bladed paddles, and the Eskimos used them to huntseals (kayak lit
erally means ‘Hunter’s Boat’). Kayaking as a sport, and especially as arecreational activity, owes its origins to a certain John MacGregor. In 1845,this Scotsman, a Barrister (and also an explorer and artist), designed a kayakbased on drawings of the narrow boat used by the Eskimos, and called it the‘Rob Roy’ (this had a two-bladed paddle). MacGregor kayaked all around Europe, in rivers and on lakes, and wrote a bookabout his experiences,‘A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe’. It was a bestseller, onewhich got many hooked on to paddling.

MacGregor would later go on to establish the Royal Canoe Club(1866) with fellow kayak e
nthusiasts; the club organized a regatta in 1873, the first competitive kayakingevent.

Kayaking became an Olympic discipline in the Berlin Games(1936). Over time, kayak clubs started springing up all around Europe as thepopularity of sport took off.

Kayaking in India

Though kayaking has slowly gained popularity among the adventurecommunity, it is still an a
ctivity that’s outside the mainstream in India. It remains a limitedrecreational activity, a niche act
ivity rather than a competitive sport. Nevertheless,kayaking is more populararound the southern metro
polis of Bangalore, particularly on the weekends; there are tripsorganized on the Kali (in Dandeli town), Kaveri and Narmada rivers. For theviews, little beats a kayaking trip in Goa – along the coast, on the river(Mandovi / Zuari) or in the backwaters. The tranquil backwaters of Kerala arealso a lure for the kayaking enthusiast.

In the north, the rivers in the Himalayan region were made forkayaking. There are trips in and around Rishikesh, on the Ganges, but also onthe Alaknanda, Mandakini and Yamuna rivers.

Further up, in bone-chilling and inhospitable Zanskar, summerexpeditions are organized amid stunning scenery, on the Zanskar and Indus r
ivers, as well as on the Tsarap Chu (a tributary of the Zanskar). Alsorecommended is a kayaking exp
edition out east at Arunachal Pradesh, on the mighty Brahmaputra, or on theSubansari (a tributary of the Brahmaputra), and on the Rangit and Teesta riversin Sikkim (make Darjeeling your base for a kayaking trip on the Teesta).Meanwhile, if you’re interested in sea kayaking, head to the coast of Kerala. A&W

Source: Adventure nation

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