An extremely dull day turned upside down and my heart did a little happy dance when I saw an email from GIO Adventures inviting me for a rafting expedition spanning four days and five rivers. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and words fail me when I try to describe the adventures it brought along. Giving the over-crowded Rishikesh a miss, I was headed to serene Jayalgarh for an extended weekend that promised great views and greater adventures.
Jayalgarh, a rustic Himalayan town situated on the banks of river Alaknanda, welcomed me with it’s small town grace and tranquility. Here, GIO arranged for me to put up at their riverside camp, Camp High Five which is a base camp for rafting on up to five rivers. My first day at the camp was a laid back one with ample time to relax and read by the river side. The gushing waters played a melody I enjoyed throughout my time at Jayalgarh. Camping was also on my mind and the staff at GIO played along. After breakfast, I was told we’ll be heading to a nearby location, apt for putting up our tents for the day.
A short walk from Camp High Five, I found myself in the middle of Himalayan terrace fields. I had always seen those from a distance, but this was a different experience altogether. A few village homes dotting the fields in the distance seemed to be nothing short of perfect. Green fields of wheat for as far as you can see, mighty Himalayas in the background, clear blue skies, sounds of nearby Alaknanda rushing through her day in the distance, a pair of magpie singing along and excited footsteps criss-crossing the fields, stopping every few minutes so that the eyes can absorb it all – that’s what being in a terrace field felt like!
As we walked down the footsteps towards the valley, we plucked half ripe apricots and peas to munch along the way. The hike downwards was a beautiful one, and I was secretly hoping for it to be longer than what I was told. At the last turn, I was caught by surprise; nothing could have prepared me for what lay beyond those terrace fields. A calm Alaknanda, as if taking a nap in the afternoon, before gushing towards the other side of the valley made for more than a perfect spot to put our tents!
GIO Staff soon got down to work, putting up a small camp for us to spend the day here. A white sandy beach, a calm and clear river flowing along, and Himalayas enclosing it all from all sides – what more could anyone ask for?
I walked along the river bed, found a perfect spot and settled down with a book. Meanwhile, tea was already brewing in the kitchen tent. It was kind of unbelievable that just a few minutes walk from the town had brought us to this unexplored, virgin valley, worth a million mentions in travel books.
Spending a day here wasn’t enough though. But then upcoming days were reserved for bigger adventures that took my breath away.