Category Archives: River Rafting

When the brave-heart fought wild tides for the guests in Pahalgam – the True Story

By Zishan Amiri Posted on June 13, 2019 on freepresskashmir
As a homeboy growing up playing with wild tides of river Lidder in picturesque Pahalgam, Rouf Dar was the best rafter in town. This past Ramzan, fighting the same roaring river for guests, his tide ties snapped so suddenly that it shook his hometown and gave Kashmir a new fallen hero.

Just like any other Ramzan evening, Ghulam Rasool Dar on May 30, 2019 dialled a call back home from duty to check if his wife and children had done their iftaar on time. But the unexpected response from the other side of the phone line froze him.

His eldest among the two sons, Rouf Dar wasn’t home yet and his out of reach phone was quite a rarity. A tumour patient himself, Ghulam Rasool tried to ease down his wailing wife, Tasleema, in a way to assure himself as well: “Where would he even go? He has a well-built personality. He would fight hundreds. None could do bad to him.”

Hailing from picturesque town of Pahalgam in south Kashmir, Rouf was in his late teenage years when he first romanticised with his village’s native water body, famous for its rafting amongst tourists all across.

He would find peace playing along the dancing tides of river Lidder. He had been friends with its gigantic rocks and the ever-giggling white waters. Over the years and by 2019, he was looked upon as ‘the best’ rafter to have romanticized with the beautiful river. Perhaps, this must be one of the reasons Rouf decided to go against the tides, that day – May 31, 2019.

Having had perfectly mastered all the tricks and turns of Lidder, he couldn’t say no to the repeated requests of a group of tourists from Kolkata to raft them through.

Despite having warned about the upset water flow, the tourists were adamant. They had reasoned Rouf about their departure scheduled next morning and that they cannot fly back home without experiencing Kashmir’s famous white water rafting. And the ‘kind-hearted’ boy of river Lidder, just couldn’t have disappointed them.

It was close to 5:30 in the evening, an hour past the closing time decided that day by the rafter association, owing to the bad weather conditions. Across the entire stretch, it was only Rouf and his floating raft at the start point, as the group of five tourists and a guide accompanying them made their way in.

And in case of any mishap, a rescue boat had also been arranged to ensure tourists’ safety. With that, Rouf peddled his boat as the tourists cheered in joy.Back home, Rouf’s mother had been long-preparing his favourite delicacies for iftaar.

Every day, he would finish his work and reach home by 7:00 pm, and lend a helping hand to decorate the dastarkhwan, then to break the tiring fast with his wife, mother and his younger brother – all together sharing a sumptuous smile alongside the meat feast. This had now become a routine.

But that day, when Rouf did not return even after half an hour past the iftaar time, his younger brother tried to reason with worried Tasleema saying, maybe, he must have been busy with work.

As the leader of a union of rafters, 32-year-old Rouf was always a busy man.

During the 2014 floods in Kashmir, he and his associates had peddled their raft all the way down to Anantnag, where they rescued people day and night, returning back home only after six long days.

He knew his job in-and-out.

In 2016, a tourist raft had flipped after crashing with a wooden pole of a leftover footbridge. Rouf, who was luckily present at the area of the crash, pulled his raft and rescued all the tourists back to the safe base.

On the fateful day, Rouf had again found himself in middle of another rescue act.

A sudden cloudburst had spiked the water levels in the Lidder and the subsequent strong winds had upturned the raft entirely.

Moreover, as narrated by Javed Ahmad, one of the rafters on the rescue boat, the water fury was such that the two rafts had parted away and Rouf was left all by himself.

Soon after the crash, according to Javed, Rouf got himself up on the flipped raft, held it to a steady spot, and selflessly dived into the wild Lidder to reach out to the tourists screaming for help.

For the next half an hour, he was at it: easing down the once friendly, but now, a wild river Lidder, its ever-giggling, but now ruthlessly screaming tides, only to save the lives of his guests from Kolkata, all while more than 12 hours had passed since he had last eaten anything or sipped even a glass of calm water.

Back home, his mother Tasleema was still waiting for him to join her for iftaar.“It was sharp 8:08 pm,” Rouf’s father Ghulam Rasool recalls, “I had called my wife.”

While on phone as Ghulam Rasool was still trying to ease down Tasleema, Rouf’s younger brother got a call from the villagers. The bad news had arrived.

“Rouf sahab’s raft has turned over…”

Tasleema screamed on phone, Ghulam Rasool’s heart slipped a beat, as Rouf, away from his home, lost his grip and swum to the dark ends of Lidder, as its tides took him along, once and forever.

His dead body was found next morning at 6:00 am by his fellow rafters and the team of State Disaster Response Force alongside J&K Police.Rouf’s heroics earned high respect on social media. Some termed his act as the spirit of Kashmiriyat. But many simply called it an act of Insaniyat.

However, under the shadow of praises and monetary compensation from the state, the young rafter’s untimely death highlights concerning point that has gotten broadly overlooked.

While Rouf’s heroics must be surely recognised, the fact that the incident would have not occurred had the tourist not badgered him, should also be considered.

Several white-water rafting guidelines suggest that the tourist-trips should be timed to finish at least an hour before dark, while in the case of Rouf, the closing time had been declared 4:30 pm that fateful day.


But his father reasons that his son’s ‘kind heart’ couldn’t have allowed him to say no to the tourists.

Rouf was married only four years back. A BA and BEd degree holder, he had been long trying to apply for a government job to look after his tumour-ridden father, an ailing mother, a wife, and an undergraduate younger brother.

“Maybe, this was what his destiny had in store for him…” Ghulam Rasool concludes, in a way, making uneasy peace with his brave-heart son’s tragic demise.

River Rafting in Pahalgam – 2010 Status Update

For the story on this topic from previous years and the issues involved, see here.
Rafting started in Pahalgam from April 1 onwards. There are 12 companies or agencies providing the service – so the visits should see some healthy competition working in their favor.
For the ride in the meandering waters, the starting point is Yaner, some 5 kilometers before Pahalgam. There is unfortunately no structures set up so far and people have to arrange their own means of getting to Yaner. Which could be a great opportunity for Sumo or taxi operators. Or may be slowly the rafting companies would start providing this service to take back to and fro from the rafting site.
The president of Rafting Owners Association is Muhammad Ibrahim.

Efforts on to promote winter sports, adventure tourism in Pahalgam

News Agency of Kashmir 8/27/2009 5:33:41 PM

Srinagar, Aug 27(NAK): Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Nasir Aslam Wani replying to question of Altaf Ahmed Wani in Legislative Council said that the Department is putting its best efforts for promotion of winter sports and adventure tourism in Pahalgam. Various activities and festivals are being organized to boost the winter sports and adventure tourism in the area adding that the Department conducted Spring Festival at Pahalgam for promotion of adventure sports in Pahalgam, Para gliding was introduced during the festival besides trekking and rafting.

He said that the Commercial White Water Rafting has been introduced in a big way by involving local un-employed youth to start their ventures. This year permission for such activities has been give to 12 registered agencies to facilitate the Rafting for the enthusiastic tourists. In order to promote the sport of Rafting in Pahalgam, 2nd State Rafting Rally was organized this year by the Department. Six local Rafting teams participated in rally.

Trekking equipment like sleeping bags, tents, ruck sacks etc. are being provided to local youth and tourists on nominal charges to undertake various trekking programmes. Trekking equipment Hire shop is likely to be established at Pahalgam for benefit of trekkers.  Last year , it was proposed to hold some ski courses at Aru/Pahalgam but due to inadequate snow fall these could not be held. However, during the forthcoming winter, it is proposed to conduct winter sports activities such as snow ski and ice skating at Pahalgam.

In addition to this Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports conducted various courses in adventure sports in summer as Basic and Advance Mountaineering, trekking, Rock climbing and adventure courses for youth.  The Institute a joint mountaineering expedition to Kolhoi with North East Adventure Foundation Gowhati, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police. The expedition was flagged off on 4th August 2009 with an aim to study how to control glacier recessing taking care of flora and fauna and to clean the environment around Lidderwat-Satlanjan-Kolhoi area.

An artificial Rock climbing is being planned in the vicinity of Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports at Nunwun, Pahalgam.  The Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports also intends to conduct winter packages in coming winter in Pahalgam subject to sufficient snow fall with the aim to carry out recee of the area for ski lifts in Baisaran and Aru, so that during coming years winter sports like skiing can be promoted in Pahalgam.

2009 National Rafting Championship at Pahalgam

Srinagar (PTI): The hill resort of Pahalgam in South Kashmir will host National Rafting Championship next month, state Tourism and Cultural Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said on Sunday.

The championship will be held in the third week of June at Pahalgam, 100 kms from here.

He said the state government was exploring the possibility of tapping Pahalgam’s rich potential in golf and adventure tourism given its treasure of natural landscape best suited for modern tourism-related sports activities.

“Pahalgam will get certain add-on facilities to make tourism year-round activity,” Jora said during a visit to Pahalgam.

He said holding the National Rafting Championship will be a beginning in that direction.

Pahalgam, like Gulmarg, is also ideally suited for heli-skiing, which can attract more tourists, Jora said.

The minister took stock of various ongoing developmental projects in the hill resort and met representative of various tourism-related associations.

He inspected the golf course at Pahalgam, which is being upgraded to an 18-hole course at a cost of Rs. 26 crore and is spread over nearly 142 acres of land.

He said the development of golf course would be completed by the end of current financial year.

The minister said in order to provide facilities that can match the best in the world, a health club, six tourist huts and a cafeteria would be constructed in close proximity of the golf course.

Pahalgam Club, with facilities to host national and international conferences, is being constructed at a cost of Rs 12.50 crore, he said.

The officials of Pahalgam Development Authority said the basic infrastructure in Betaab Valley has been created at a cost of Rs 2.38 crore and work on sewerage project at Pahalgam is afoot. They said Rs. 20 crore is being earmarked on upgradation of tourism infrastructure in the area and Rs. 11.59 crore have already being spent for the purpose.

The minister also inspected the newly-renovated Tourist Reception Centre and Adventure Complexes, completed at a cost of Rs. one crore and directed the authorities to keep available all the facilities to the visitors.

He sought cooperation from the people associated with tourism for maintaining ecological balance and urged for awareness campaigns for banning use of non-biodegradable items like polythene at tourist destinations.