Best Places for Kayaking in India

Kayaking is a water sport which one can enjoy even without knowing how to swim. The toughest part of kayaking is to keep the canoe upright using the torso. Once you master balancing the canoe, you can start paddling in slow water first and then head on to more adventurous rapids.

Coming to the places of Kayaking in India, one is not short of options – be it racing down the flowing rapids in Uttarakhand in a group or pondering alone in the tranquil backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala. There’s one for everyone.

Kayaking in India

Best Places for Kayaking in India

In this post, we listed 15 amazing destinations for kayaking in India with their best time to visit, difficulty level of rapids, and more. As there are not many experienced kayakers in the country, most of these places also offer kayaking course to visitors. If it’s your first time kayaking, you can join these courses to learn to kayak.

As India is a vast country, we have listed the places according to regions:

Simply click on a region above to view all the best places for kayaking there.

Kayaking in North India

Kayaking at Ganges in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Rishikesh is one of the top places for kayaking in India. Here you can take part in a 9 km white water kayaking expedition from Brahmapuri to Rishikesh.

Kayaking at Ganges River in Rishikesh

Ganges River in Rishikesh. Credit: Manfred Sommer

River water rapids are graded by International Grading System on the basis of level of difficulties. This scale ranges from Class 1 to Class 6, with Class 1 being the easiest to paddle and Class 6 being the toughest, mostly considered as dangerous to paddle.

In the Ganges, the highest rated rapids are: “Return to Sender” and “Double Trouble.” On the trip from Brahmapuri, you’d face three rapids: Initiation, Double Trouble, and Hilton, before landing in the calm waters and pass through temples, ashrams and scenic ghats ending at Ramjhula.

Difficulty: Moderate
Best Time: September to November. Water activities remain closed during the monsoon.

Kayaking at Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand

Bhagirathi River is another famous kayaking destination in Uttarakhand. It’s one of the two head stream of the Ganges that offers some of the most challenging twists and turns one would expect in a kayaking expedition.

Kayaking at Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand

Bhagirathi River in Uttarakhand. Credit: PKanti

This kayaking trip ends with the Bhagirathi River merging with the Alaknanda at Devprayag to form the Ganga. There are 6 rapids alongs this route, namely Elephant rock, The Chute, Sharp S, Confluence Rapids, Daniel Dip, and The Wall. These are graded between Class 3 and 4.

Difficulty: Challenging
Best Time: October to May

Kayaking at Alaknanda River in Uttarakhand

Alaknanda River is the other head stream (along with Bhagirathi) of the Ganges. This tributary is more challenging than the former, with rapids rated between Class 4 and 5.

Kayaking at Alaknanda River in Uttarakhand

Alaknanda River. Credit: Ajay Bhandari

This kayaking expedition stretch between Chamoli and Rudraprayag offering you thrill and splendid views of the surrounding valleys all throughout the route.

Difficulty: Challenging
Best Time: September to May

Kayaking at Tons River in Uttarakhand

Tons River is the largest tributary of the River Yamuna. It flows through the remote areas of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, offering participants with breathtaking views of the mountains and villages of Uttarakhand.

Kayaking at Tons River in Uttarakhand

Tons River. Credit: Satyender Dhull

This route is considered to be one of the most challenging places for kayaking and rafting in India, with rapids rated as high as Class 5. This expedition should be attempted only by experienced kayakers.

Difficulty: Challenging
Best Time: September to June

Kayaking at Zanskar River in Ladakh

Kayaking on the white waters of Zanskar River is considered one of the toughest kayaking expeditions of the world. The rapids here consist of Class 3 and Class 4 waves.

Kayaking at Zanskar River in Ladakh

Zanskar River. Credit: Jamie McGuinness

The trip starts on the Indus River from Spituk, with a Class 3 rapid, and finishes at the confluence of Zanskar and Indus by the village of Nimo. Along the route, you go through valleys untouched by developments, observing the natural beauty, scenic landscapes, and snow-capped mountain peaks of the Kashmiri Himalayas.

Difficulty: Moderate
Best Time: August – September

Kayaking at Indus River in Ladakh

Indus River is another excellent kayaking destination in Ladakh after Zanskar river. This trips starts from Spitok and continues till Nimo and from Nimo to the ancient temple at Alchi.

Kayaking at Indus River in Ladakh

Indus River. Credit: Irene Becker

This route is suitable for first time kayakers with rapids rated between Class 2 and 3.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: July to August

Kayaking at Beas River in Himachal Pradesh

Beas river in Himachal Pradesh is a popular kayaking and rafting destination for adventure lovers. The river originates from Beas Kund near Rohtang Pass and passes through the scenic Manali and Kullu valley till it merges with the Sutlej River near Mandi.

Kayaking at Beas River in Himachal Pradesh

Beas River. Credit: Pankhuri Kumar

Beas is amiable for kayaking and provides the perfect mix of rapids. There are various drop points along the river which you can choose based on your kayaking experience and desire of adventure. For first timers and non-swimmers, the ideal Class 2 and Class 3 rapids are near Babeli and Raison. The length of this section is around 2.5 km – 3.5 km.

Experienced kayakers can jump straight into Class 3 and Class 4 rapids that stretch between Pirdi to Jhiri and from Raison till Kullu. This is a a two hour trip and is recommended only for swimmers.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Best Time: April to June. September to October. Water sports are banned during monsoon and winter.

Kayaking in East India

Kayaking at Brahmaputra River in Arunachal Pradesh

Kayaking on the river Brahmaputra is not for the faint-hearted. This river has some of the toughest rapids to be found in India, going up to Class 6 rapids.

Kayaking at Brahmaputra River in Arunachal Pradesh

Kayaking at Brahmaputra River

The trip starts at Tuting, where the Tsang Po River of Tibet transforms into the Siang River, and ends at Pasighat. Along this route, you’ll meet rapids named as Toothfairy, Pulsating Pulsi, and Ninguing.

Distance between Tuting and Pasighat is close to 180 km, and it takes approximately a week to cover the entire stretch. This expeditions include stopovers and hikes at several places along the route.

Difficulty: Challenging
Best Time: November to March

Kayaking at Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh

Subansiri River is a tributary of the Brahmaputra river. It runs through Tibet before entering Arunachal Pradesh.

Kayaking at Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh

Kayaking at Subansiri River

Kayaking trips at Subansari starts from Nacho and ends at the confluence point of the Kamla and Subnasari rivers. Along the route, a kayaker would halt at Nacho, Sonala, Taliha, and Sippi villages. The highest rapid on Subansiri River is graded at Class 3. This makes it ideal for new kayakers.

Difficulty: Moderate
Best Time: November to March

Kayaking at Teesta River in Sikkim

Teesta River, located in Sikkim, offers a challenging experience to kayakers with its multi-dimensional rapids. You can get up to Class 4 rapids on this river.

Kayaking at Teesta River in Sikkim

Teesta River. Credit: KVidya13

Difficulty: Challenging
Best Time: October to April

Kayaking in West India

Kayaking in Goa

Kayaking in Goa has a charm of its own. You could explore secluded little beaches, or paddle on your own or in a group through dense mangrove forests to see birds, water life, and more.

Kayaking in Goa

Kayaking in Goa. Credit: Yatra

There are tour operators in the state offering a plethora of terrific kayaking experiences, including morning beach kayaking, sunset kayaking, moonlight kayaking, backwaters kayaking, and mangrove kayaking. Popular kayaking locations are Bambolim Beach, Candolim, Nerul Bridge and Margao.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: All year

Kayaking on Kundalika River in Maharashtra

If you are living in Mumbai or Pune, Kolad is the go-to place for kayaking in Maharashtra. Kayaking in Kolad is performed on the Kundalika River. It originates from the town of Bhira in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra and ends up into the Arabian Sea near the creek at Roha.

Kayaking on Kundalika River in Maharashtra

Kundalika River. Credit: Jehan Driver

Along the 12 km stretch, you are met with Class 2 and 3 rapids – ideal for first timers and experienced kayakers to hone their skills.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: June to October

Kayaking in South India

Kayaking at Kali River, Dandeli, Karnataka

The Kali river runs through the Dandeli town in Karnataka and ends by joining the Arabian sea in Karwar. It’s an ideal location for new kayakers with mix of easy and challenging rapids and beautiful scenic surrounding.

Kayaking on Kali River

Kayaking on Kali River

The kayaking route stretches for 18 km from Siddar to Karwar. This expedition includes two island stops and a visit to Kali Matha temple situated on one of the islands.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: June to October

If you are looking for a more thrilling kayaking experience, Karnataka has a few more kayaking destinations available, such as Sita Nadi and Bhadra River. For those looking to kayak in the ocean can head out to Marvanthe beach.

Kayaking in Kerala

So far we have seen kayaking on rivers, but in “God’s Own Country” Kerala, you can experience this on the backwaters of Alleppey.

Kayaking in Kerala

Kayaking in Kerala. Credit: Trip Jodi

Kayaking in Kerala can take you to places where houseboats can’t. Paddling through the backwaters, one can get up close to the local people living by the canals, cormorants, and the kingfishers. With one of the several tour operators in the state, you can opt-in for a 4/7/10-hour trip.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: All year

Kayaking at Andaman And Nicobar Islands

Heading further south, you arrive at the picturesque Islands of Andaman And Nicobar. It’s a fantastic location for kayaking on the sea.

Kayaking at Andaman.

Kayaking at Andaman. Credit: AAron Metcalfe

Using kayaks, you can explore the different islands, take breaks at coconut palm fringed beaches, and observe assortment of marine creatures swimming around you.

Difficulty: Easy
Best Time: All year

Those are some of the best kayaking destinations in India. Which is your favorite place to kayak in India? Let us know in the comments below.

Keep traveling! 🙂

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