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Mumbai for kids: Long drive into the Sahyadris (Outdoors)

Every stopover meant using things that were bio-degradable and chemical-free. Jute bags were handed to keep all items for the drive
Every stopover meant using things that were bio-degradable and chemical-free. Jute bags were handed to keep all items for the drive

What would you do when you have two kids (almost 10 and 12), who have been to, or think they have, to most places in the city, especially when you have a long weekend ahead? With the kind of lives we lead, it is almost impossible to have time away from technology. So, when long weekends loom, we usually scout for offbeat things to do, for ways to unwind and stay connected - to nature.

Gazing out into the mountain range from a niche in the plateau
Gazing out into the mountain range from a niche in the plateau

This time, we found the answer in going for a long drive, with a difference. If you have a car and like exploring new places, the many travel and adventure groups in the city offer a host of fun things to do. We lent our weekend to Offbeat Adventure Drives that steers city slickers to new terrains, where we go glamping. I had no idea what glamping was until a few weeks ago. For the uninitiated, it means camping that’s comfortable with facilities that we are accustomed to in our urban metros, unlike traditional camping. Take your car, enjoy the privacy of your vehicle and travel on a pre-arranged route with others who are part of the group.

The cars drove in a convoy, with one car in the lead; all cars were connected with two-way radios, so that everyone could drive at their own pace, yet with no worry of getting lost or left behindThe cars drove in a convoy, with one car in the lead; all cars were connected with two-way radios, so that everyone could drive at their own pace, yet with no worry of getting lost or left behind

So, we took off one late January weekend - six cars, six families, with a love for the road - all driving together, connected with a radio, and food supplies to munch on. The group takes you to boutique destinations, from coastal belts to the middle of dense jungles and lesser-known places of spirituality, depending on your likes. Nights under the stars with scenic, tranquil and safe surroundings is what they guarantee. The trip started from Powai lake and we headed towards Pune. From there, we moved into a terrain so pristine that you couldn’t locate it on the GPS. The stops were only for food and bio-breaks, and even those who sign up for the drive are not informed about the route to be taken, to ensure the trail is left as undisturbed as possible. The destination was the top of a cliff, 180 odd kilometres off Mumbai, where we cut through some stunning locations in the Sahyadris.

For the kids, there were live lessons in history and geography because at every stop, it was possible to experience the many hues of India and take pride in where we live. When you camp or glamp, there are lessons in local heritage and wildlife for every camper. Everything used was bio-degradable and each stopover site cleaned before leaving.

The trip was memorable because getting there was as exciting as the destination. The kids had three days on the road, watching sunrises and sunsets from atop a mountain, and nothing but nature and loved ones for company - ingredients of a perfect weekend.

Safety Tip: Safe places are selected after a recce. Cars are given a two-way radio, so everyone is connected. Rules sent to every participant should be adhered to for safety. Since parents have to accompany kids, the trip is a safe one.

Fact file

Where: The Sahyadris
Best for: Boys and girls of five years and above
How to reach: Offbeat Adventure Drives has a starting point at a mutually agreed place. This changes according to the destination. Timings: Early morning starts Budget: A tank full of petrol and a budget of `25,000 take care of two nights and three days, with food for one adult and one child.
Food: No need to carry. Every car is stacked with snacks.
Water: Provided for
Rest Room facilities: Yes
Where else to go: The whole trip is about going to new, unexplored places.

Parent Poll: Superb. Looking forward to doing it again. 
Rating: *****
Kids' Poll: Can we go again? 
Rating: *****

What's Good: The trip combines privacy with commune. 
What's Not So Good: Can’t think of anything.


Weekend picks for kids

A look at the Indus Valley Civilisation
Let your kids discover everything about the great Indus Valley Civilisation of Harappa and Mohenjodaro at a two-day workshop and museum walk.

There will be stories of the two places and children will get a chance to learn about the Great Bath and life during the Harappan times. “We will be making articles that were used there. We will talk about earthen ware, how the houses were built, how the trade started, the clothes worn and games played in those times,” says Dr Shonali Rathi, owner of Fun Science Club that has organised the event. In addition, the children will enact skits based on stories about the Indus Valley. “They’ve been told to come dressed appropriately,” adds Rathi.

The first day will include discussions and slide shows on the different aspects of the Indus Valley Civilisation. On the second day, Rathi will take the children to a museum to view an exhibition on the subject. “This will help them understand what they have learned earlier,” she says, adding that there will be a quiz during the walkthrough. The event is open to children in standards 1 to 6.

On: Today, 11 am to 2 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm; Feb 19, 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
At: Ghamat Lodge, Dr Ambedkar Road, Dadar (E)
Call: 9819580259 (for cost and other details)


A musical fairytale
Attend a Broadway-style musical version of Jack And The Beanstalk, the English classic fairy tale about a poor boy and a magical tree, which has been retold for children.

Expect foot-tapping music, dances and great performances from child and adult actors, who promise to make this an exciting journey for kids and families alike.

The show will be presented by VAIPA (Vishaal Asrani’s Institute of Performing Arts), which is affiliated with the Trinity College London.

It has been directed by Jiji Subi and Vishaal Asrani. The latter has earlier directed plays like The Lion King, Wicked, and The Sound Of Music.

On: February 19, 5 pm onwards
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Log on to: bookmyshow.com
Call: 9619998180
Cost: Rs 450 to Rs 500

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