In the winter of 2018/19 I became the first person to paddle a canoe down the Holy Ganges, from Haridwar to Kolkata. It was an awesome experience and for someone who had never paddled a canoe on multi-day trips, this was an exhilarating experience. I was in no hurry, took it easy, and stayed for longer than planned at villages where I was welcomed with open arms. I stopped to see the sights and sounds in so many wonderful places that dot the banks of the holy river. Met people, made friends, and finally docked my boat in Kolkata a couple of weeks beyond my intended plan. I am now taking my second trip down the holy river. I will again be a NOMAD ON THE GANGES.
If you have not yet seen the documentary on the previous journey down the Ganges, you can see it here …
I had made a promise to so many people that I would come back once again. I am going to keep my promise. I am going to paddle down the river once again. And go all the way to Sagar Island, about three day’s paddle south of Kolkata. Given the current in the river, and the dams and barrages I will encounter, this expedition too will be very much a slow boat down the Ganges.
And instead of a canoe, this time I will be a Nomad Down the Ganges on a standup paddleboard converted into a sit-on-top kayak … a yakasup if you will. Essentially a seat strapped on to the board. It weighs around ten kilograms, and is very tough, durable and versatile. With loads of space in the front of and behind the seat, I can strap on my dry bags and have access to stuff even while paddling. It has a maximum load carrying capacity of 160 kg, most of which will likely be taken up by me and my ample weight.
I plan to complete this expedition in less than 45 days.
The river is the same and even though after every monsoon it changes its course slightly, I will be almost retracing the waypoints crossed during my previous journey. And I will be staying either at temple complexes or camping out on the sandy beaches. This time I do not plan to spend any time at all in the many wonderful and historic cities that lie on the banks of the Ganga. I paddled an average of 40-45 km a day the last time; I want to up this distance to over 50 km this time. I just hope that I do not get stuck in sand bars as many times as I did the last time. Surprisingly I found sand bars and shallow waters pretty much all the way to Farakka.
Towards a clean Ganga
The Ganga is the holiest river among Hindus all over the world. Revered, worshipped, venerated, she sustains the lives and livelihood of the many millions of people who live on her basin. Dying and getting cremated on her banks ensures a passage to the Heavens. Even a dip in her holy waters cleanses all past sins. Unfortunately, the Ganga has been polluted over the centuries and is losing its properties. The scourge of chemical and plastic pollution is choking the river. Successive Governments are trying to clean up the river. During my last expedition I found a lot of work being done in and around the river to ensure cleanliness. Crematoria and toilets have been constructed along its banks. The devotees are starting to use biodegradable bowls to carry out their rituals. Idols are not being immersed in the river as much as they used to be. Chemical effluents have reduced significantly.
During my expedition, I will talk to people to understand their views on pollution. I look forward to the day when we can take a drink of water straight out of the holy Ganges.