The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
A brief introduction about myself: I am a very curios person by nature. I love to travel in & around places, who doesn’t by the way. We are a bunch of people who can go to explore a place even when it’s planned in the Mid-Night. Provided the destination place offers a unique flavour.
One of the place that we choose for our week-end break was Kholad. When I tossed the name “Kholad” to everyone in the group, people where bewildered. What is the latitude & longitude of this place named “Kholad”. I emphasized on Uniqueness of the place because that’s the only way to get out of the boredom. It had been 6 months, nothing Interesting had been planned, everybody was busy with their own life, apart from little in-Mumbai hang-outs. Hence we longed for a small change.
Let me introduce to the group, Rashu- silent like a wood in the forest. You can only feel her presence by few humming sounds which force their way out of her mouth. The witness for her excitement & boredom are these humming sounds that she makes. She is the primary research executive of the group. Anything that you need to find about the designated location (which nivalink or other portals cannot offer) is extended by her. I really doubt if she has done any favour to Google for the information that she sources. She approximately takes an hour to do anything. Be it tying her shoe laces, finding something on the internet, or packing for a trip.
Next is sundari, as I have always described her, she can replace my LCD. She is a live band- a hip hop cum traditional band. She sincerely extends all the moods a person undergoes- fear, excitement, frustration, rebellion, dependable, empathy, feeling of been Lost that too in a span of 2 days. A Psychologist who wants to study on how to measure (I know moods cannot be measured) moods, should seek her company. His experiment would be the most successful talked event after obama’s Presidency. Any trip planned has to start with Sundari’s resistance towards it. I have never experienced a dull moment in her company, be it anything while you are eating, sleeping, travelling, river rafting or simply walking. She has to show her talent.
The 3rd one is Mr.Noor Khan. He is the most hassle free soul on this earth when it comes to exploring a place. He can accompany you to any place which has got something to do with water. He is a thirsty fish who longs to be dipped in litres of water. He feels it’s his moral responsibility to do justice to a place by not leaving a single stone unvisited there. He will appreciate everything right from the atmosphere, food, tribal people, stone, hotels & of-Crouse girls. Very punctual by nature, he prefers to be sync with the watch. Half an hour delay in reaching the designated location for him is like a missing a Flight to meet Angelina Jolie for a date… His opinion about consuming a gratis food is that it is the most nutritious food on this galaxy. A very epicure by nature, he loves any kind of food. One of his limitation is been born as a human, he would have enjoyed to be a camel. So that he would munch on the stored food. Hungry is an unclaimed mountain for him.
We had a new entry this time, Mr Nilesh. He is Noor’s Room partner. He was on a observation trip, a very ebullient person, loves to interact with different people, he will sincearly pay attention to your conversation & then do a value add.Coming back to Kholad. Kholad had the most unique thing to offer, i.e. —River rafting.You can check out the web-site www.kundalikarafting.in/overnightstay.htm
We decided on a Hotel because of its availability; please ensure you have a booking before landing there. This place is scattered, hence finding a hotel after you reach would be a little challenge. I feel after Lonavala & Matheran, Kholad is a preferred destination. Its distance from Mumbai which is 160Km makes it perfect Location to visit during a week-end.
We decided to hire a car for our travel. We did the bookings accordingly, but the driver called up at the last minute to inform about his unavailability. Oh….NO how do we travel now. People had suggestion —–Let’s take a bus, as it is it’s not that far. We need to catch a bus on the NH14 route.
NOOR & Nilesh were very fine with the idea to travel by bus. I had my eyebrow’s touching the last line of my forehead. For god’s sake we are on vacation; I would virtually feel like going to office in case we take a bus. Apart from that rashu was more worried about our internal computation in Kholad. Time for conference call, negotiation with other drivers, suggestion, confusion, looking out for alternative possible routes etc. We had planned this trip on 26th Jan 09 which happens to be a national public holiday. All mumbaikers had booked drivers as if the rule had changed to take girls for the date. Because of the long week end all the private vehicles with drivers were booked.
Our research executive came handy i.e. rashmi, she got couple of numbers in the evening (obviously from internet).Tried getting through all of them, but then in vain. Somebody’s luck struck because we finally got a driver at 12:30 in the night. A new day with a new Hope. Our clock (i.e. Noor) was more worried about the delay this might cause to our trip.
We finally took off from Mumbai at about 10AM in the morning. Reached our destination at about 12PM, it took an hour’s time to locate the desired Location. There was a narrow pathway at the descending cure of a hill towards our hotel. For a moment I felt sure to dump into the Valley. But thanks to our fate we were saved. The best way to locate an address is to ask for a landmark. For a while we thought we are on a wrong route, but then in the middle of the Darren land we found a landmark———a 60 * 80 cm stone, on which “Sai Farm” (name of our hotel) was embedded by the white dispenser paint.
We had no choice rather than to follow the stones. To our surprise the stone lead us to the hotel. Wow what a stony way. Noor’s habit to appreciate small things made us realize how much fun we had in this hotel tracking process. The hotel’s infrastructure was not impressive to start with. Noor had a strong opinion – we would be in love with the farm by the time we are set to leave for Mumbai . We straight went to our lunch table ordered food & hit to our beds. Food was inclusive of our hotel reservation; hence noor & nilesh had a feast on their nutritious food. Took a nap of about an hour’s time & bounced back to the roads of Kholad.
Kholad is good for trekkers & nature lovers. The atmosphere is so peaceful which makes you forget the world around you. Its comparatively undiscovered place, hence you would witness a lesser crowd. Our hotel was situated in a valley which made it a perfect place for trekking. But the focus of our group wasn’t trekking so it hardly made a difference to us. There was a small river behind out hotel. The Hotel manager had included the part of the river bank as his private beach. He had a man-made raft to float around the river.
Noor & Nilesh were the Captain of the ship; they also had a dual responsibility to row the raft. The rowers were Bamboo trunks which we found lying around. The thirsty fish (i.e. Noor) had to desperately dip in the water, as if his soul was calling for the purpose. Nilesh is also a water lover; hence they had a swim together, rowed 3 fat females on the raft & ended the session.
We had a small barbeque section arranged. It was thrill to plug the food in the metal rod & then put it on a flame to cook. None of us had witnessed a Barbeque session before, so everybody was engrossed in knowing the best possible way to barbeque the food. Nilesh dipped the food in the oil & Masala, Noor & Rashu did the monitoring part while me & sundari did contribute by consuming the food. Later on I & Nilesh interchanged our roles.
Overall a very nice day in Kholad, after having dinner we went around the farm to witness the darkness. It was pitch dark, we couldn’t see a single ray of light apart from those in the farm. Noor, Nilesh & Rashu were interested to stroll outside the farm. I had never seen such darkness in my entire life. Imagine yourself in a middle of jungle; eyes cannot visualize a single object, not even the slightest curvature of a person nor a curve of trunk or stone, nothing at all. On top of it these guys wanted to stroll around……..It was like looking through a blind eye, where everything is black. But I guess Rani Mukherji might have helped us across the darkness after all Amithab Bachan in black had taught her way to “Light”
I had to drag these guys back into the firm, everybody was angry on me. We landed in a small garden to lie around indolently. Somebody said let’s play cards, not a bad idea. But I wanted something more interesting to do. As the options were very bleak in the middle of the jungle more over I had dragged these guys from exploring the “Black” night, I had little choice.
We started with the simplest game in cards, i.e. badam sathi. Sundari made it so complicated & hilarious that we did realize the pressure a 6th STD kid faces. The objective of the game was to finish the cards that have been allocated to you. This strategy was attached to goal & then cascaded further down to miniature level so that sundari would understand. Sundari didn’t understand to her last game as what exactly had to be done. Our clock raised an alarm as next day we had an important task to be accomplished.
The whole farm was filled with such a dense fog; we were hardly able to see each other. Strange place, you cannot see people no matter its late night or early morning. We had to reach the river rafting location by 9Am. You need to do booking earlier, as accordingly the institutes arranges for the raft & a trained coach. There is a river called Kundalika which offers a good breadth for the rafting. The river was a ½ an hour drive from our farm.
We did reach on time & got greed up with the safety equipments. There was an instructor allocated to us, named “Sham”. We were given instruction on how we should row. There were 3 instructions forward, backward & stop. Stop been my fav, when the current of the flow is high one should not row as the raft flows with the water. See I know little bit of rafting.
The raft had a capacity of 8 People, 6 were girls & remaining 2 were Noor & Nilesh. Much of the rowing part had to been done by the BOYS, after all they are the strongest Species & we still leave in male-dominated society. We lifted our row & dipped in the water; all set to row till the end. We had a smal practice session in back water; Sham gave instructions & re-arranged us according to the pace of our rowing speed. It was lot of fun to row & follow sham’s instructions. We were the 2nd last in the race; there were total 9 rafts along with us. Nilesh had a very tough time digesting the fact that we are 2nd last; he requested sham to give instructions so that we would lead. Sham was a tough man, following his instructions we climbed up the ladder.
We did experience few great rapids in between. The water flow is controlled by Bhira dam; hence it becomes very important to start early so that you can experience the rapids & gave a great fun. At some junctures, sham would direct us to get in to water (After examining the safety).
I, thirsty fish & Nilesh were in the water. I literally forced Sundari to get into the water. The water was steady; there weren’t any waves as we were approaching our finish lines. Sundari made a very tough decision of getting into the water as i didnt leave her with much options. She got into the water with a scared look, as if the water is gone eat her or get in her stomach & make her fatter. By the way she doesn’t know swimming. She was holding to the raft, was little comfortable, then suddenly a raft neared us. Which caused few waves, Sundari panicked she visulized the hell gates opened for her. Sham become sham bahi to her, she requested sham bahi to lift her up. Sham might have not fallen off the raft pulling anybody in his entire carrier, but Sundari made an expectation. Sham fell inside the raft & everybody were amazed at Sundari. At times Sundari does some serious stuff.
It’s a beautiful 14-Km stretch which we completed in 2 hours. This was a very adventures experience. We hit our farm, had lunch as were dying out of hungry. The check out time was 12, but the manager was courteous enough to extend it till 3PM. Said Adieu to the farm & left Kholad. Noor was very right; we loved the farm so much by the time we were leaving.
We headed for raighad, which was capital of Shivaji’s kingdom, the place where he was crowned and where he died. Raigad is 3000 feet high above sea level. For its immense beauty, Raigad remains a hiker’s paradise. Its approximately 50KM’s from Kholad.
Apart from the fort the biggest tourist attraction is the rope way which extends over 1500 feet. You can use rope-way which takes 10mins or alternately climb 1500 steps to reach the fort. People travelling to USA & Europe usually have snaps in the rope way, for which Indians go mad. But thanks to our MTDC, the rope way is not promoted very well. Hence many people are unaware. The rope way extends such a beautiful & dangerous view, that you appreciate the bravery of Hirkani. The story is – Hirkani was a mother of an infant. She used to sell milk on the fort. One day she got late on the fort and the doors were closed, as a result she got stuck on the fort. No one opened the doors for her. Her baby was alone at home. As she had no other choice to reach at her baby, then to climbed down the fort at night. When Shivaji came to know about this he built the Hirkai Buruj on that place and also honoured Hirkani. After visiting the fort we started our return journey, realizing the best part of Kholad is its still uncommercialized. I have become free brand ambassador to promote Kholad. It’s a perfect break from our hectic Lifestyle.