Lazy Sundays have been my favorite pastime until my new year resolution of 2016. To continue my recent endeavor of making Sundays productive by making myself more adventurous, sporting and get over one of my top phobias – Water, my fluid and fickle friend. Don’t get me wrong!! I love water as long as it’s trickling out of a tap or a shower head, and my feet is firmly planted on a ground that I can rely upon, despite the probability of it becoming slippery. What I do not like is flowing water bodies that has a quicksand of a floor that disappears as you wade deeper into it. From the well justified and exaggerated description, you can clearly understand the deep-rooted abhorrence and fear that I possess. Now try imagining a person with such unwavering phobia willingly going for water sports that has the remote chance of an uneventful outcome. Well I did, and I am thankful the experience it resulted in.
India is blessed with numerous rivers, each influenced with the mercurial seasonal change.The great ships that we see today weren’t actually in existence until 1819 when the first steamer ship was built. Rafts were the predominant choice during the primitive era due to the simplicity of using natural resources and use of effective propulsive forces like a simple pole stick or mere paddling. Today, rafts have become a source of thrill and excitement. The high-adrenaline sport of rafting involves navigating a river in an inflatable raft. The level of difficulty depends on how temperamental the river is. These ‘grades’ of difficulty can be determined on the basis of the presence of rapids, which evolve due to sudden plunges in the river’s height, and also because of rocks – small or large – that may be lurking in the waters.
Rafting is certainly well on its way to become the most popular adventure sport in India. For the adrenaline junkies that are out there, Maharashtra has welcomed the sport with open arms. Kundalika is a small, perennial and beautiful river in Western Maharashtra, originating in Pune district, flowing through the Raigad district via Revdanda, and finally terminating in the Arabian Sea. Rafting here might have started 6 years back with a meagre number of 3 rafts, the business has grown exponentially, a fact which can be appreciated from the development evident in the town of Kolad. Due to limited number of technical rapids, Kundalika is considered at the Grade III level of difficulty. The total stretch for rafting is 14 kms and the base point is located few kms away from the Bhira Dam.
We started from Panvel, sleep-deprived and excited at 5 in the morning and reached the base camp of Wilder West Adventures by 7.30. By 10.30, the water released from the dam fills up, and as you see the flow of water slowly approaching the rafting point, you start imagining all the exciting possibilities and for a moment, you get transported to all those action adventure movie scenarios where a water body is encroaching and the hero is trying to find possibilities to make a getaway.
Initially we had a practice run where our instructor explained how to paddle and what all to expect in case a scenario of danger happens across. Despite the limited technicality of the river, Kundalika is known for its 10 white water rapids, and for a first timer it can be a bit challenging. Every instruction of forward paddling resulted in a deep core muscle pain and exhaustion that my body can fondly recall at this very moment while I am typing.
Once the stretch of rapids end, the still water provides you with the option of floating in the water wearing life jackets, even for the non-swimmers. The session of Kundalika rafting ends with a final stretch of strong rowing till you reach the end-point. The feeling at the end is more like “Kundalika Conquered.” Onne of the best part of Kundalika is that it is the only river in India where white water rafting is possible throughout the year, amking it an all-season favorite.
How to reach there:
- Just because it is a water sport, don’t consider wearing shorts. It might be comfortable, but trust me, the sun can burn your thighs off. currently I am applying salve of Aloe Vera just to soothe the sun burn.
- Do NOT forget your sunscreen. Doesn’t matter what season it is. Just because there is water involved and there is a chance of the sunscreen might wash off, do not neglect it.
- Follow every instruction that is given by the instructor; it doesn’t matter if it is going to exhaust you and you might feel like crying because of all the muscle pain. Kundalika might be harmless compared to all the other hotspots of river rafting, but your life is always precious.
- Though you are not allowed to carry any water bottles or food along with you on the raft, do not forget to hydrate yourself once you get off the raft.
About Wilder West Adventures:
Though the group is well organised and efficient, there is lack or coordination amongst the grunt team and the main office. They kept insisting for us to make payment, despite having an online confirmation with us regarding the full payment.
While we opted for a full package of white water rafting, Kayaking and Flying Fox, out of the three, I have the fondest memory of the first two activities. But the flying fox aka the zip-lining was a major let-down. The first half of zip-lining was simple and fun but there is no option of getting back from one shoreline to the other. There is aropeline that you are supposed to walk back on to the main site, but the rope walk has been built in a very inconvenient way which makes it quite difficult for a reasonable and logical person to walk on.
Package Cost: 2100 rupees per person and includes Breakfast, White Water rafting, Kayaking, Flying Fox, Lunch and Evening Tea.
I am still reluctant about water sports, but I really did enjoy the entire episode of river rafting and the idle drifting during Kayaking. And one imprtant lesson learnt at the end of the day:
Row Row Row your boat, gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily… it just might not be
Muscle pain and victory
It still makes life a dream.