Chaliyar River Challenge promotes eco-friendly leisure through kayaking
The best locations for kayaking are supposed to be in North India, including destinations like Rishikesh and the Brahmaputra river. Three-year-old Chaliyar River Challenge—organised by Clean Rivers Initiative (CRI), along with Kozhikode-based Jellyfish Watersports and Kerala Tourism Department—is slowly changing this perception.
“For the longest time, our rich waterscapes have been degraded by sand mining and industrial effluents. In an attempt to reclaim these, a few of us paddled 68 kms from Nilambur to Beypore, collecting plastic floating down the Chaliyar,” says Chairman Brijesh Shaijal, about the inception of CRI four years ago. Their attempt to raise awareness on keeping our rivers clean has found success with the number of participants soaring from 20 in 2015 to 48 in 2016 and a whopping 104 in its third season this year.
This year’s challenge will also follow the same route as previous years, to be covered in three days. “This cannot be categorised as an extreme adventure. Unlike the upstream forest area, this stretch is compatible with simple sit-on-top kayaks which are best for the uninitiated,” says co-organiser Kaushiq Kadithodi, informing that the youngest paddler is just nine-years-old. Make no mistake that the expedition offers the best guidance and safety measures, with India’s longest solo kayaker Mumbai-based Kaustubh Khade—who covered the Western coast from Kutch to Kanyakumari in 83 days—being one among the three chief organisers.
The downstream event—covering eight kms on the first day and 30 each on second and third days—also follows a Leave No Trace ethics on their island campsite. Over the years, the organisers have managed to draw attention to the eco-friendly initiative and the sport from government officials as well as international tourists, with people flying in from countries like Singapore, Canada and France. “Beyond promoting kayaking as an eco-friendly leisure, we hope to inculcate in our youngsters a passion for the sport which will fetch India an Olympic medal a few years from now,” Kaushiq trails off.
From September 22 to 24