River rafting in Pahalgam – status 2008 and the players involved

Sight seeing, pony-rides or do-nothing vacationing aside, what really can Pahalgam offer to visiting tourists? Come to think of it, Pahalgam has its own gold mine in the form of meandering river lidder, and miles and miles of it both from Aru and Chandanwari which offer a great, world class opportunity for river rafting. Thus far, it seems like the officials have failed to realize what they are sitting on. It has been left onto small time entrepreneurs to harness this opportunity. And like the story of rest of India, they are able to pull through, inspite of all the odds. But only till a point. Objections are now being raised from many quarters.
I am optimistic that its only a matter of time when the Pahalgam Development Authority, or Tourism Department or the Fisheries Department will put their act together and lay out a holistic plan which will benefit both the locals and the tousists, and put Pahalgam on the world map of premier river rafting destinations.

At its core, whitewater rafting is simply the act of taking a raft down through turbulent areas of a river. These turbulent areas are known as rapids. Rapids are classified by six categories. Category 1 is a smooth river with no rapids. The categories climb from their too Category 6, which is either impassible or should only be attempted by experts. Most river rafting trips occur on Category 3 and 4 rapids, where the turbulence gives you an exciting ride, but with limited risk. Pahalgam from Chandanwari to Nunwan offers all 6 categories of rapids.

There seem to be three major government agencies involved in the issue. Looks like while Tourism Department would like to encourage the activity, the PDA and Fisheries department hold an opposing view. Or atleast have expressed their cocerns, to make their side of the point. The concerns and issues are genuine, though not insurmountable. Yes, you don’t want to spread garbage, you dont want to effect fauna and fishes, you want to cover the risk via some insurance cover, or at least no-liability paperwork. But at the end of it, this all is doable with proper guidelines and implementation.

Rafting provides a big economic opportunity for locals. One way to handle this is to make co-operatives of local low income people, including ponywallahs, and have them operate the rafting agencies in collaboration with experienced tour operators. This will ensure that tourist’s share of disposable budget doesn’t only go to tour operators from outside. There should only be a handful of agencies allowed, and the bigger thing is that the annual contracts should be openly auctioned off. The generated revenue should be shared amongst PDA, Tourism Department and Fisheries or Forest department to provide for facilities. Forest department can get parking fees for vehicles, Fisheries department can get to sell fishing licences. PDA can get its share to keep the area clean and tourim department can promote the facilities internationally. So on and so on…

From a news coverage in GreaterKashmir dated 5/24/2008, this is how the players/interested parties stack up:

Pahalgam Development Authority
Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, (PDA), Abdul Rasheed Parray said: “While the pollution caused by the rafting affects the flora and fauna of the region, the garbage damages the shores of the Lidder river as it is not being disposed off properly.”

Fisheries Department
Fisheries Department that has raised objections to the rafting in famous Lidder Nallah here citing “disturbance of fish habitat.”
Joint Director Fisheries, Kashmir, Showkat Ali said, “The rafting boats definitely affect the flora and fauna and disturb the habitat of the fish. The government should wake up to the call and instead select some other rivers for rafting.” According to Ali the rafting agencies are violating the Fisheries Act and are operating the rafting without getting no-objection from the department.

Ponnywallahs and locals
The ponnywallas and the residents here have also objected the rafting. “Pahalgam has its own charm and people don’t visit here for rafting, so tourism department should never have given the permission to the local agencies for rafting,” said Mohu-din a local.

Tourism Department
Director Tourism Farooq Shah, however disagrees that the rafting will create pollution. “If our youth want to earn their livelihood then why this fuss,” Shah said. He said the department’s job was only to register the agencies and the permission is given after due consultation with the PDA.

Rafting Agencies
However, the owners of the rafting firms said the rafting boats don’t create any pollution. “We fail to understand how the rafting boats can affect the fauna and flora of the place and destroy the fish habitat,” they said. They said it speaks volumes about the wisdom of the authorities when they say that the garbage gets dumped into the water. “There is no connection between garbage and the rafting,” they said.

Earlier (2005-2007) the rafting was conducted in Pahalgam itself. But following objections by the CEO, PDA, the spot was changed to Batakote, 2 kilometers away from here. Even as according to the application received by the PDA CEO only six agencies have been given permission by the tourism department for operation of commercial rafting, there are 13 companies presently operating their boats.  Besides, the agencies are operating more boats than permitted.

Ecological impact
Per PDA, though the agencies are strictly responsible for the disposal of the solid waste material and the cleanliness of the area, the tourism department is not taking any action against the violators.
On complaints about improper disposal of waste material, Tourism Department’s Farooq said, “The PDA has been assigned the job of looking after the proper disposal of waste material and it should create facilities to ensure pollution free environment.”

Most of the agencies according to the sources in the PDA do not have a necessary insurance cover for the raft guides and clients against risk/accident.
Shah however asked the PDA not to allow any agency to operate boats that doesn’t have proper insurance documents and violate any of the guidelines laid down by the tourism department.

The agencies are also charging more than the tariff fixed by the tourism department.

81 thoughts on “River rafting in Pahalgam – status 2008 and the players involved”

  1. Kahwah is a traditional green tea recipe from Kashmir. The tea is made from green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods.Some varieties are made as a herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey, and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. There is another form of tea that is quite famous amongst the locals, its called ‘Namkeen Chai’ or ‘Nun Chai’. It is pink in color and is also called Pink Tea. It is made from black tea, cardamom, various spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Also people like nune toath and dum toath which are very famous among sufis. Nunetoath is nunechai without milk and Dumtoath is strong form of Kahwah.

  2. Kashmiri food is suitable for all palates. Predominantly non-vegetarian, “Wazwaan” as it is called is the royal cuisine of Kashmir. Described by the author Salman Rushdie in his book, Shalimar the Clown, Wazwaan is a banquet of thirty-six courses minimum and sixty courses maximum. It’s a preparation of a number of spicy meat dishes served with traditional rice by professional chefs called “Wazas”. Kashmiri wazwaan has its origin in Persia and is almost always served in Kashmiri marriage parties. It also has some interesting vegetarian options like dum-aloo and ‘chaman’ (cooked cheese). Among the popular non-vegetarian delicacies are curd based Gushtaba, chilli-flavoured Rishta and Roganjosh

  3. The main attraction here is the Gondola. Finished in 2004, it runs up to 3995 meters. A sight seeing trip to the top of the gondola will cost you Rs. 300 for Stage one and Rs. 800 for stage two(inclusive of the cost of Stage one) for a return trip; singles (for skiiers for example!) are half the price, with a day pass available for 1200rs. You can decide whether you wish to go to Stage two when you have reached stage one. Stage two is at a much higher elevation, right on the hill top and is clearly visible from the Gulmarg taxi stand.

  4. The Yatra is only from Baltal yet but the weatheris better than last week,it is warm and sunshine.

  5. Amarnathji yatra holds great significance for the devotees, especially of Lord Shiva. It is believed that an ice Shivalinga forms in the cave of Amarnath in every lunar month. The Shivalinga starts taking shape on the first day of the bright half of the month and forms fully on the full moon day and then begins to dissolve on the no moon day. There are four to five ice figures resembling various deities inside the Amarnath cave. As per the custom, the largest one is believed to be of Amarnath (Lord Shiva), one on its left of Lord Ganesha and ones on the right of Parvati and Bhairava respectively.

  6. The holy Yatra to Amarnath glamoured the tourists when they are moving by helicopter passing through the tremendous wilderness, mountain and rambling forest. We are one of the best service providers with exciting helicopter rides to Amarnath. We are the best in market for helicopter Amarnath Yatra. Our helicopter services start from Sonmarg to Amarnath and Srinagar to Amarnath.

  7. This is another route trek to reach to Amarnath from Jammu with a total distance of about 400 Kms. It is here on this trek route the visitors experience Jammu & Kashmir as a heaven or a paradise on earth while passing through the natural bounty of beautiful valleys, steeped mountains that make Amarnath Yatra memorable throughout the lifetime. The important destinations covered under this route are Udhampur – Kud – Patnitop – Ramban – Banihal – Kazi Gund – Anantnag – Srinagar – Sonamarg – Baltal. The width of the pebbled road is somewhat narrow in comparison to Pahalgam route.

  8. Yatra will begin from 15th of June and will conclude on Raksha Bandhan which falls on 5th of August.

  9. Because of the unpredictable weather conditions, which often are wet and extremely cold during the Yatra period, pilgrims are advised to carry rain coat, woollen clothing, small umbrella (with head elastic band and strap around chin), walking stick , dry fruits, torch and personal medical kits etc.

  10. As you walk through the trek, you may face the scarcity oxygen; that is why it is advisable to increase your body efficiency of oxygen through deep breathing exercise or through Yoga exercise like Prana Yam.

  11. Please Pandit,we want more about Holy Amarnath cave on this site and it helps us know about more.

  12. Every year lakhs of pilgrims visit this holy shrine. The yathra to Amarnath begins at Srinagar on the month of shravan. Subsequent halts are at Avantipur, Brijbihara, Martand, Pahalgam, Chandanwadi, Wavjan and the Mahagunus Pass. From here, the Amarnath cave is reached on the full moon day, and the pilgrimage is complete, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam.

    Shri Amarnath Welfare Committee undertakes welfare activities regarding provision for boarding and lodging facilities free of cost on the route to the cave shrine.

  13. Amarnath – One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. The most sacred and most ancient book of India, the Rig Veda evokes his presence in its hymns, Vedic Myths, rituals and even testify to his existance from the dawn of time. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learnt the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. The annual yatra to Holy Amarnath Cave, situated at 14000 ft. The intending pilgrims are allowed to perform darshan from Ashard Purnimashi to Shravan Purnimashi which course spreads over a month or so.

  14. The story narrated by people about the discovery of this Holy Cave is of a Gujjar ( shepherd) Buta Malik . He is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave . Story goes like this , that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins . This made him overwhelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint . But, what he found was that the Saint had disappeared . Instead , he found The Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam there in . He announced the discovery of this to the Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage .

  15. The Nubra valley lies in the north of leh and is accessible over the Khardungla pass 5600 Mtrs which is one of the highest motorable roads in the world.
    The valley is on the trade route from leh to Khangar via Samsar and Karakoram pass. Apart from unparallel trekking opportunities. The valley have several Buddhist Gompas Diskit Gompa is 350 years old and is situated on the highest point near the village in which there are about 120 Resident Buddhist Monks.

    Nubra valley is also known for its double humped bacterian camels. The camels are led in the forest to graze during summer and brought back during winter season.

  16. The farthest and the most isolated part of the Suru Valley, Rangdum is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other. Situated 130 kms South- east of Kargil, it falls midway between Kargil and Padum. Due to its remoteness from inhabited parts either of Suru or Zanskar, the areas wild beauty is almost haunting, while its isolation is near perfect even as the unpaved Zanskar road traverses its length. The chief attraction of this area is an imposing 18th century Buddhist monastery with lots monks in residence. Perched picturesquely atop a centrally rising hillock which is entrenched around by the bifurcated course of a wild mountain stream, the Rangdum monastery has the aura of an ancient fortification guarding a mystical mountain valley. The villagers are descendents of the monastery’s agricultural, serf-tenants, who do not own any land in the region. The monastery enjoys perpetual and unalienable ownership of the entire valley including the fields tilled by the villagers, the pastures, hills and even the streams. Rangdum also serves as an important trekking base. The most popular trek from here leads to Henaskut near Lamayuru, across the spectacular gorge of the kanji valley.

  17. Discovery of Holy Cave
    The story narrated by people about the discovery of this Holy Cave is of a Gujjar ( shepherd) Buta Malik . He is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave . Story goes like this , that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins . This made him overwelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint . But, what he found was that the Saint had disappeared . Instead , he found The Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam there in . He announced the discovery of this to the Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage .
    The ancient epics narrate an other story which goes like this. The valley of Kashmir was under water .It was a big lake. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets . In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to The Himalyas. He was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave . When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva’s abode and a Centre of pilgrimage . Since then Lacs of devotees perform the pilgrimage through tough terrain and avail eternal happiness.
    The trek to Amarnath, in the month of sharavan ( July–August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of an Ice Stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the Moon’s cycle . By its side are fascinating, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha .

  18. Because of the unpredictable weather conditions, which often are wet and extremely cold during the Yatra period, pilgrims are advised to carry rain coat, woollen clothing, small umbrella (with head elastic band and strap around chin), walking stick , dry fruits, torch and personal medical kits etc.

  19. Keep a slip with your Name, Address and the name of accompanying yatri in your pocket
    Take water bottle , dry fruit, and baked grams with you during journey.
    Keep some cold cream or vaseline with you to protect skin from cold winds
    Take a little relaxation on steep inclines and don’t exert yourself too much .
    Yatris are advised to follow the instructions issued by Yatra Administration.
    It is requested that do provide all needful help to the co-devotee travelling with you.
    Perform yatra with a pious mind and keep enchanting “Om Namah Shivay” all the way.
    During the Yatra from Pahalgam onward , keep your clothes and eatables in plastic bag to avoid the things being drenched during the rain
    Carry some common medicines such as Glucose, Disprin etc. with you for immediate relief.
    Sari is not suitable dress for the Yatra .Ladies should not wear saris as it may be very inconvenient. Salwar kameej, pant shirt or Track suit will be very comfortable.
    Keep the horses / ponies with your luggage and Coolies along side as it is difficult to trace them in case you are separated from them. More over you may need some of those useful items from luggage any time at a short notice.
    Best suitable shoes are Hunter shoes and most comfortable Dress is woollen track suit.
    The best way to perform Yatra is to keep a steady and slow pace. Don’t exert more by fast walking . The moral of the story of Hare and tortoise is best applicable here.

  20. Holy cave is situated at end lidder valley at the height of 3888 Mts. 12755.7504 feets above sea level and 46 Kms from Pehalgam and 14 Kms from Baltal. From Pehalgam it is 5 Days return journey and Baltal is 28 Kms return journey and takes almost 12 to 16 hours by trek Subjected to weather and trek conditions. The Holy cave was re-discovered by Buda Malik who was given a big of charcoal by the Saint near the Cave. When he reached home and gave the bag to his father. The Surprised when the saw a bag full of Gold Coins. They run Back near the cave to thank the saint but the sant had disappeared instead they found only ice Shiv Lingam there only. And they announced the discovery to their villagers. Another option from Baltal is Helicopter for that purpose you have to contact us advance for reservation. For elder people who wish to perform yatra by DHANDI should also contact in advance for reservation.

  21. This is The Cave which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji. The story goes like this. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when He started wearing the beads of heads (Mund Mala). Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads. Maa Parvati said,”My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this.”Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha.”

    Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing. Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the immortal secret. He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it . He choose Amarnath Cave. In preparation to that He left His Nandi (The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). At Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes. He decided to leave his Son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ). At Panjtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky) which make living being. He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance. After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa. Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate. To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale, He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave. After this He started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati. But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected. It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva-Parvati Asan (Bed). The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).

    Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

  22. Arun, thanks for the feedback. Pahalgam.com currently indeed has a mixture of old and new pictures. Will try and update with some of the newer ones. You are welcome to Register as an Author on this site and contribute your views since you recently visited Pahalgam. You can also upload pictures if you have some.

  23. Arun, see…. what we get just for asking?
    thanks admin:
    would love to see some photos, i miss Kashmir
    Joy to all, Josie

  24. I am really sorry that did not upload new photos yet but i will have more time this week and then download the new photos.Thanks

  25. To all – please do not leave any comments of personal nature on this site. All comments of this nature have been removed, and will not be approved.
    If any such comment has been overlooked, please contact admin at admin[a] pahalgam.com.

  26. oh, we better say something about River rafting in Pahalgam
    were your home brought life jacket..
    drink lots of water
    have fun, and be safe
    and also bewere who you go with….

  27. Please, as much as anyone can understand the emotions behind leaving comments of personal nature – this site is really about Pahalgam. And this post is about River Rafting activities in Pahalgam so that visitors to Pahalgam can benefit.
    There is the entire World Wide Web (Internet) with all its blogs and sites that can be used for giving personal feedback on some topic (a useful site is http://www.yelp.com).
    As a matter of policy, the personal comments have to removed.
    Thanks for understanding!

  28. i am taking 16 people to Kashmir.
    please tell me is there any permits i must have before raftig?
    also please Advise me on the Safty in Kashmir at this time i am looking on the net and see alot of things.
    we also would like to Stay close to Pahalgam but not in the Small town unless there is space for belly dancing,yoga, and just room for 16 Women.
    we need lots of bathrooms also can we order our fishing lic on line?
    if anyone would like to talk with us about your rooms
    and or permits you may put it here on this site. or write
    Josie Della Casa
    Thank you and Blesings to you and yours

  29. Unbelievable!!!
    Thank you so much for all the Support and ” Understanding”
    i never thought i would get so many emails 🙂

    as some of you asked… We will be doing Tours in India and Kashmir
    in 2009.

    This year in Oct/2009 and March 2010 ( new dates not released yet)
    We will be touring all of North India,and Kashmir and will also visit
    Kashmir, Rajasthan, and Delhi, on our Shopping Tour’s

    Please use the email provided in this Blog ( freeindiatours@yahoo.com)
    We are looking for a few Honest Men and Women
    to work with us In Kashmir.

    We are looking to fillthese nee at this time :

    1-introduction to Islam and the True fundamentals


    3-Bathing , Ect )
    4-Cooking Class’s
    5-Folk Dancing
    6- manufacturing outlets( will be doing alot of Shopping 🙂
    7- Guest Homes/Hotels
    8-tour operators
    please feel free to write;

    Josie Della Casa at
    We at Free India Tour’s really do appreciate all of your Support
    i have been truly Gifted. Thank you for all of your emails
    Joy to all

  30. i just wanted to thank all of you who helped me with my tour it was very nice
    and the small Apples are so yummmy 🙂
    i loved Bakeing with them
    i will be back soon thank you and God bless you
    Josie Della Casa

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