Ganges SUP: A world Record dedicated to conservation

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The full length of the magnanimous river ganga was traversed by two people from  Kumaran and Shilpika the first people to ever achieve such a feat by stand up paddleboard.

Standup paddle boarding is a heavy weight variant of traditional surfing where paddlers stand on boards, propelling themselves with the help of paddles.

 

WHAT IS GANGES SUP?

GangesSUP is a record breaking, world’s first descent of the entire length of the river Ganges by stand up paddleboard. An expedition for purpose, the vision and mission of this journey is to empower awareness and advocacy for cleaner water, via adventure.

Oct 3rd, 2016, Gomukh uttrakhand. – Expedition begins.

 

On 3rd October 2016, the expedition kicked off on foot in Gaumukh, the ‘visible’ source of the Ganges at the altitude of 4100m in the Indian Himalayas. On 11th January 2017-101 days and 2977 kms later, the team of Kumaran Mahalingam and Shilpika Gautam paddled to the mouth of the Ganges at GangarSagar

As they chased a larger picture,Kumaran though did not claim any additional records on this journey, has three limca book of records already to his name for stand up paddling. The 35-year-old Kumaran works  as a geologist and hails from Chennai but has lived in Gurgaon for the last  10 years. He started paddle boarding in 2014 and before the Ganga expedition, holding the records for the Longest Standup Paddling feat on river Godavari, Andhra Pradesh and for standup paddle boarding on most water-bodies by an individual, Highest ever Stand up paddleboarding in Lake Tsoltak (16604ft above MSL). He has also paddled on 29 different water bodies – 27 in India and one each at Langkawi, Malaysia and the Madhuganga wetland in Sri Lanka.

 

Kumaran’s GangesSUP journey began when he came across Shilpika’s call for teammates in a magazine, although a bit last minute giving him little time to prepare for the expedition.

 

After a 10 day survey pre expedition of the path they were going to paddle through using google maps Kumaran was able to lay out a plan. The journey would include a 260 KM trek from Gaumukh to Devprayag, cross white water zones from devprayag to haridwar on their inflatable SUP boards and then on hardboards from haridwar to the sea crossing river section in Bijnor, Narora Kanpur and Farakka also crossing five barrages(an artificial barrier across a river or estuary to prevent flooding, aid irrigation or navigation, or to generate electricity by tidal power) and having to set up camp 49 times.

 

When they started the expedition, they covered 30 to 50 kms each day, paddling from 8am to 5pm every day. They camped near the river banks, pitching tents close to villages or in any of the countless ashrams set up by the banks of the river.

Apart from paddling for their initial cause, kumaran conducted a survey of the Gangetic Dolphins, in this project he received knowledge support from the WWF.  He says, “The dolphins not only added colour to the expedition, but made sure that it didn’t become monotonous.” He counted 867 dolphins during the expedition. The team also took time in the day sampling water quality at various places, talking to local authorities about ways to promote and the importance of cleaner water, they also made sure to promote stand up paddling as a tool of furthering eco-tourism.

 

In Spite of the many obstacles like the Gangasagar Mela which was to begin on January 12th leaving the whole place crowded with Lakhs of devotee they reached the end of their journey well in time.

 

THE ROUTE

Our Expedition itinerary was divided into 3 phases

Ganges Source to Sea

Phase 1- We kicked off the expedition at Gaumukh on October 3rd – from there a combination of trekking and cycling took us down to Devprayag via Uttarkashi. Devprayag, which is at the confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda also marks the start of the River Ganges proper.

Phase 2- Starting 15th October, it was time to get on our inflatable Stand up Paddleboards to paddle the stretch of very fast and rather dangerous white waters until Rishikesh.Having somewhat survived , we then cycled from Rishikesh to Haridwar due to lack of enough water to paddle.

Phase 3 – Commencing 20th October, Haridwar marked the start of the longest phase of our expedition I.e. the touring section. It is here that the river leaves the Himalayas and flows out of the state of Uttarakhand into UttarPradesh, Bihar, jharkhand ,west Bengal and finally the sea.

 

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