As Himachal is preparing to host Asian Rafting Championships next year, a 13 member team of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) has set out on a 230km-long rafting expedition on Beas on Wednesday.
Aiming for a world record, the team will raft across the length of the Beas river in Himachal from Manali to Dehra in Kangra. Led by ABVIMAS director Col Neeraj Rana, the expedition was flagged off by forest, transport, sports and youth services minister Govind Singh Thakur from Manali. The minister himself experienced the thrill of rafting in wild rapids of Beas in first 15km stretch.
“The team has challenge to complete the expedition in four days. Nobody did rafting in majority of the stretch of Beas till date. They are confident to set a world record. This will popularize water sports in Himachal. They are using two rafts and three kayaks,” Thakur said.
The sports minister informed that World Rafting Federation has given its nod to Himachal for hosting Asian Rafting Championships in 2020. “We shall leave no stone unturned in smooth conduct of the championship on the Beas. This will open doors for Himachal to host World Rafting Championship. Our 25 rafters are going to Serbia to get advanced training,” he added.
Rafting is forbidden for tourists in some stretches of Beas where rapids are high and water flow is fast. There are some stretches where water is deep but water flow is almost still. Shallow water and sharp edged rocks are another challenge.
Col Neeraj Rana said the boys are full of enthusiasm and want to accomplish the task as soon as possible. “We have to reach Dehra bridge on October 26. We are taking care of our safety. We will be lifting our rafts and kayaks to the other side of Larji and Pandoh reservoir walls. If needed, we have planned to continue expedition in night time to meet the deadline.”
Rafting is contributing to tourism of Himachal Pradesh and thousands of families are dependent on rafting for their livelihood. The state government is now opening many hydel project reservoirs of the state to develop water sports.