In mid 2015, Callum Strong, Rory Woods, Phil Mitchell and I decided to head to the Indian state of Chhattisgarh to see what whitewater we could find. The previous year, Callum and the All India Kayak Expedition had spent some time paddling in the neighbouring states, and it looked like there might be some good rivers here too.
With Callum having done some extensive Google Earth scouting, we had a list of rivers to have a look at, so we got on a train and headed to the capital Raipur to have a go.
We had previously made contact with a travel guide who was able to arrange us a car & a driver, and even got us a meeting with the head of tourism for the state, so off we went in our disheveled clothes and told him what our plans were.
Kayaking in India is often a tricky business as the officials aren’t always aware of what whitewater kayaking actually is, and are almost never helpful. However this was totally the opposite of anywhere else we had been, the guy in charge had not only seen the previous years kayaking videos in India, but he was keen to have us over and do some more. With a phone call he had us permission to go wherever we liked, even into tiger reserves were anyone is usually shot on sight! We decided that we might give that a miss though, as we weren’t sure if the guys with the guns would actually get that memo…
They were so keen that we even got a guy to come with us and show us around/translate, and were able to base ourselves out of various government forestry rest houses around the state, making everything that little bit easier. As the places we were wanting to go were very out of the way, and there are significant problems with domestic terrorism in the area, and with Chhattisgarh and the surrounding states having the lowest standards of living in India we were glad to have someone who knew the place to help us out.
This being a sort-of proper expedition we spent quite a white scouting places to access/egress the rivers, getting to see a lot of the state, and get baked by the full heat of an Indian summer. We found a lot of half build bridges, and some half finished dams where construction had stopped halfway though and it didn’t look like much had happened for a while, but these did give us good landmarks to give to the driver to meet us at.
In our time there we found some good and some bad whitewater, thankfully with no major epics. The scariest bit being Phil getting pinned through his deck on a fish trap before managing to swim out, turns out they trap big fish too!
The gem we found was the Ibb river, we had looked at this river a couple of times, as it had a waterfall called Churi falls on it, which looked like it went every time we looked at it, but just didn’t quite have the balls for it. We put on for the section above after some rain and it was chocolate brown and a bit crazy, so we left and came back yet again for the lower section, which we had tried to scout but it was cliffed out and impossible to see anything aside from the fact it was steep and definitely had a waterfall on it. So we put on and found some really unique rapids, and only a couple of portages!
The highlight was what was dubbed the “double date” waterfall, a 10m boof on one side, or a double tier slide on the other, which me and Rory took the first descents respectively, setting Phil and Callum up for a bit of a photo.
The section finished off with a unique wall ride, and met our guide and driver at the finish, who were more excited about the whole thing than we were!
Chhattisgarh has very unique geography and geology, consisting of a few plateaus, so the rivers tended to be wide and flat, and full of rocks, with two major steep sections as they dropped from plateau to plateau forming some good (and some bad) rapids.
We managed to inspect a good number of rivers, as well as the ones we paddled, but there are still plenty more around and the surrounding states have even more to find as well.
Rivers paddled (various sections of): Maan, Ibb, Rehar, Mahan.