Accommodation at Jayalgarh
Unfortunately, taking a break from the daily grind of the city and detox from its hectic pace has to be ironically bracketed into specific amount of days. Clubbing long weekends, feigning sickness to catch a few days in the outdoors and other ingenious (read devious) ways are plain exhausting. The conversations during the run up to a long weekend are around booked out hotels, lack of imaginative ideas for family vacations and lists of ‘been there, done that’ destinations.
Looking over at the River from the breakfast point
On one such hunt for an optimally timed, yet offbeat weekend getaway from Delhi, I chanced upon Jayalgarh. Overnight travel away, Jayalgarh lies a little over 100 kms from Haridwar. Considering I grew up in the neighbouring city of Dehradun and had not even heard of this gem was shameful – or perhaps a function of ‘proximity syndrome’. I was so busy exploring other parts of the country, forever leaving out the lower Himalayas to, “Another time. It’s so close.”
An overnight train from Delhi and I landed with a couple of friends, in the wee hours of the morning in the holy city of Haridwar. It’s great to arrive here pre 8am and feel the intense spiritual ambience that exists only in the morning hours, before roads gets clogged with devotees and commercialization raises it’s ugly head and holds sway in the entire city. A short tea break and we were off for another 2.5 hours drive, crossing tourist nodes slapped on with a heavy dose of humanity. Tempos, and cars parked along the road to Shivpuri (Uttarakhand’s most popular rafting destination) were a charm to zip by. Having done the Shivpuri rafting circuit twice, it was the one thing that I wanted to stay away from.
The Jayalgarh campsite of Great Indian Outdoors was safely tucked away from the chaos of Shivpuri and other rafting sites. It lay close to the main road so access wasn’t a problem, but the one thing that trumped over all, was the fact that it was wedged right by the gurgling Alaknanda River.
Favourite spot of the Jayalgarh camp
I took a stock of the luxury tents overlooking the river and joined some others at the camp in the common Gol Ghar. The view from here was even better. Easy chairs beckoned one to sink into them and watch the river go by. Before holiday comatose set it, I checked with the camp on all we could do there.
Jayalgarh is the perfect mix of a place where you can unwind, reboot and get your outdoor fix. For us, the first day included a rafting trip down the Alaknanda. Breakfast by the river and a jeep ride away, we were soon at the starting point of this circuit. It was a pleasant change from seeing scores of rafts bob by in Shivpuri. Instead, a few operators choose this section. With a dose instructions and some confidence boosting, we were in our rafts, slowly paddling towards the first rapid. Thankfully, the Alaknanda sector has rapids that range only from Grade 1 to 3, making it ideal for children as well as nervous first time adventurers.
|Ganga + Alaknanda Rafting Expedition|
|Season:||Feb - Jun, Sep - Nov|
|Region:||Kangra Valley (Himachal Pradesh)|
Bumbling down the river, hi-fiving with our oars and jumping into the placid parts of the river took up most of the afternoon. It was difficult to strip the over-adventurous from low cliff-tops, which were springboards to jump into the river. Some even gave the bridge slithering and kayaking a shot. Sweet fatigue ran through our body that evening, as we settled into the camp. A bonfire seemed a bit ridiculous for the weather but we insisted for a short one, just to loop in the entire riverside camping experience.
Jayalgarh and areas around is a vast outdoor playground for adventure enthusiasts. Those who could shake the yawns early next morning went for a rappelling experience to a rocky outcrop close by. Lazier ones woke up to coffee mugs in the common area and made their way to by the river, where lazy chairs lured them to plonk down with a book in hand. Either way, the recuperation from city life was prime on the agenda.
With the whole afternoon to relax, read and catch up with nature, it was a perfect weekend, that didn’t take much time. I’ve pegged this one as my weekend booster for a quick and effective rejuvenation.