Adventurers from 6 nations go down Ganga for a cause


Kolkata: After 35 days of journey down the Ganga, a 15-member crew led by Swiss adventurer Andy Leemann arrived here Monday having coursed 2,521 kilometres down the mighty river.

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The expedition set sail from Hardwar – a temple-city at the foothills of the Himalayas – and made its final port of call at the confluence, Sagar Island, in the Bay of Bengal.

“I am really feeling thrilled after successfully completing this Ganga expedition. It’s really been a unique experience to encounter the cultural heritage of various locations while travelling on the Ganga along the inner shores of India,” Leemann told IANS.

“Our aim was to monitor the holy river, of which we all had heard a lot in the past. We also wanted to showcase some of the environmental threats that the river was facing due to the country’s agricultural and industrial economy.”

“We’ve shot a documentary on the entire expedition, which we want to show the entire world,” he said.

The international team, comprising nine professional adventurers from six countries, including India, began their expedition down the entire length of India’s national river Sep 14 this year.

They took up the challenge to cover 2,521 km of riverine distance, from the Ganga’s source at Gomukh to the delta, both on foot and by boat, to draw attention to the environmental threats and highlight sustainable solutions to the river contamination.

The crew navigated about 1,800 km from Haridwar to the Bay of Bengal with three 4.3-metre long rigid inflatable boats (ABI 14 AL – Superlight), camping on the riverbank or sleeping at various temples along the Ganga.

“Most of times we spent on the river. We didn’t waste time finding good places for the night stay. I was fascinated by the diversity of cultural traditions and natural pulchritude along the river,” Leemann said.

Leemann, a 54-year-old Swiss-boating expert, led previous expeditions on the Amazon, Mekong, Orinoco and Zambezi.

The Ganga expedition was supported by AB Inflatables, a leading manufacturer of inflatable boats, global green group Green-Cross International and Kuoni – a leisure travel and destination management firm.

Talking about the tourism potential, project manager of the expedition Helge Bendl said: “The river (Ganga) could become a major destination for sustainable tourism if all existing action plans are finally put into action and the river is cleaned up.”

“It’s still being polluted every day by waste from agriculture and industry,” he underlined.