Top 10

Top Destinations for Whitewater Kayaking in India

Joy Mandhotra

September 17, 2018

Whitewater Kayaking is an elite sport cum lifestyle activity which unfortunately is not known to  many people in India. India being a geographically supreme nation is teeming with some extraordinary rivers. The Himalayas in the North/ North East are home to some of the mightiest, the most breathtaking rivers on Earth. Rivers in the south usually turn into white water kayaking havens around the monsoons. Kayaking in India unlike Rafting requires you to be well acquainted with the skill. You cannot just set foot in the boat and conquer rapids right away. A basic yet strong foundation is required to actually go out their full power and smash yourselves in the waves.


There are quite a few places for learning whitewater kayaking in India. Although as acclaimed by professionals the best river to learn at is Ganga. Rishikesh, situated along Ganga is the perfect spot for you to get acquainted with the sport. It is accessible from the months of February – June and September – December which is also the maximum time for which a river is open for kayaking. Although you can always opt for courses at different destinations which shall be discussed further in this article.

If you are interested in taking up the thrilling sport of Whitewater Kayaking you may want to check out these courses.


Ladakh – Rivers Indus & Zanskar

white water Kayaking in indiaImage Source : wetnwildexplorations

Rivers Zanskar and Indus are world’s highest whitewater kayaking sites. The landscape, the steep gorges, barren mountains and the bitter sweet winds make it the most challenging sites to kayak at. Gorges at Zanskar are a sight that you won’t get to see anywhere across the globe. Both the rivers are action packed and without giving you false hopes, we’ll say it’s no child’s play. The waters can be extremely cold and hence adequate gear is essential. Rapids will usually range from Class 3 to Class 4 +. Although it is one of the harder kayaking trips it is arguably the best among the lot. In Ladakh you can also find a couple of kayak schools.

The best possible season to kayak in Ladakh is from mid June  – mid September.

Uttarakhand – Rivers Ganga, Kali Sharda, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda & Tons

white water kayaking in india

Uttarakhand is a hot spot as far as Whitewater Kayaking is concerned. It has a plethora of rivers amidst some gorgeous valleys. The Indian capital for white water kayaking is Rishikesh. It is the mecca of whitewater kayaking in India. You will find the oldest and most experienced kayak schools/companies in this region. And of course it gives birth to India’s finest kayaking talents. As stated initially, Ganga is undoubtedly the best river to learn whitewater kayaking. 

Once you gain a strong foothold in the world of kayaking, you can progress to more challenging rivers like Bhagirathi, Upper Alaknanda and Tons. To be honest Uttarakhand has something to offer for all levels of kayakers. Whether you’re a beginner or an extreme kayaker, you’ll find a river to satiate your thirst for adrenaline. Unlike many other kayaking destinations you can be a part of kayaking expeditions sold by companies in Uttarakhand. One of the best selling expedition is that of River Kali Sharda which happens to be the natural border of India and Nepal.

Season – February – June  & mid September – December

Arunachal Pradesh – Rivers Siang, Kameng, Subansiri & Kamla

white water kayaking in india

These two states in the North East India are a bliss for extreme kayakers. Arunachal Pradesh has river Brahmpaputra/Siang flowing through its heart. It is one the biggest volume rivers on our planet and mostly has Class 3 – Class 5 rapids. Waves are so lofty you literally can’t see what lies ahead or what is behind. A kayak looks minuscule in the humongous waves. The other rivers that are bound to lure the kayaking enthusiasts are Kameng, Subansiri & Kamla.

Season – December to January

Meghalaya – Rivers Kynshi, Umtrew and Kopili

white water kayakingImage Source – whitewatervillageshillong

Meghalaya is one of the most exotic places for kayaking in India. It is a paradise for extreme kayakers and free fall paddlers. With the majority of rivers being drop and pool kinds. Waterfalls are in abundance here. So if you love to launch down a waterfall or slide down gentle falls, you’re in for a treat. The three main kayaking destinations in Meghalaya are Kynshi, Kopili and Umtrew. Shillong is the base for kayaking all these rivers. Luckily there is now a white water village at Shillong. It is a perfect destination for seasoned paddlers as well as for newbies willing to learn. You can check out the facilities at the Shillong White Water Village here.

Season – Most of the year

Kerala & Karnataka – Rivers Malabar & Kali

white water kayaking Image Source – Neil Productions

The best monsoon rivers can be found here in Kerala and Karnataka. Kerala hosts one of India’s biggest kayaking festivals – “Malabar River Festival.” Malabar is a Class 4 river and lures in many famous paddlers from all across the globe. At its peak in the monsoons, Malabar river is a super kayaking destination. Kali river located at Dandeli on the outskirts of Bangalore is a relatively new destination for white water kayaking in India. With lush green surroundings and relatively less extreme sections, river Kali is a dream destination for beginners and intermediate paddlers. Although seasoned paddlers would love kayaking amidst the surreal surroundings.

So are you game to get hooked onto the thrills and spills of the marvel that is whitewater kayaking?


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Joy Mandhotra

A renegade engineer. Breaking social constructs, exploring places, riding new adventures and discovering myself amidst it all.