Plunging down 120-feet amidst slippery rocks is an idea of fun only few seem to relish. Others sit and ponder on the sidelines, waiting to prove the famous proverb -- ‘curiosity killed the cat’. Stuck in-between, we were curious about the idea of thrill, an adrenaline rush and torrents of water that have often left us exhilarated in the docile, well-behaved cascades of Lonavala. So, hitching a ride with Odati Adventures, we find out why this vertical sport is becoming Mumbaikars’ weekend favourite.
Apprised of heading to Bhivpuri for a 50-feet rappel, we hit the Shahapur -- Kasara Road to explore a virgin waterfall that Jay Khuva, from Odati Adventures -- our company for the ride -- had discovered only the day before. We stop over for breakfast where we get to hog fresh, crispy Vada Pavs and gulp them down with an equally lucrative tea. Divided in roughly four cars, we were a group of 13 enthusiasts excited about the adventure ahead.
Taking to the road again, we marvel at the burgeoning growth of verdure that grows on rooftops and camouflages rocks into animation in the scenic
hinterland of Maharashtra. Co-organiser, Khuva in the midst of our reveries points out the Great Egret to us on a lush, open field while the dull blue of the sky aches with in us for dreams of a secluded house on the top of a hill -- lonely and serene with several secrets inside. He shares that monsoon treks are the perfect time to spot multifarious birds and flowers when the downpour isn’t taking its toll. Eventually, we arrive on a quiet poultry village and see a gushing waterfall on our right. As we get off our cars, we notice that the women outnumber the men by quite a margin.
Get a grip
Trekking up to the mouth of the waterfall, Jayesh Morvankar whose brainchild the company is, enthusiastically veers us through the maze of shrubs. Marvellously, the effusive sound of the gushing water welcomes the lurch in the stomach. Some of us crawl to the slushy embankment of the waterfall, where Morvankar sets base by tying three durable ropes to the surrounding tree trunks. Assuming the reins, Morvankar introduces us to his four-member team where Khuva will be responsible for harnessing us, Morvankar for instructions; Kirti for the security rope (and thus, our lives). Lastly,
the congenial Navroz Balsara took to manning the base of the waterfall.
Morvankar, an astute guide, schools us by logically explaining the mechanism of the activity. He shares the whys and wherefores behind common mistakes and the apparatus involved in the harness. He speaks of the security rope as a backup while at the same time explaining why leaning too much forward / backward, taking big / small strides vis-à-vis the release of the rope through the figure of eight, can lead to different consequences.
Amid nervous giggles and definite apprehension, the group picked corners evading the ‘who’ll be the first’ conundrum. Another thing that most of us quizzed Morvankar about was how to ideally rappel -- barefeet / in socks / sports shoes. He clears the air by sharing a tip that socks aid in soaking in the moss, thereby, enabling a decent grip facilitated by the right judgment as opposed to shoes that can prove to be misleading.
The great rope trick
After two people go down, unable to withhold our excitement, we decide to take the plunge. The perilous part of the whole experience was that the waterfall was not visible from any of the points and it was only when you stood at the apex, you realise the cascade below. The release of the rope proved arduous in the beginning but we realise that it is only difficult, if you don’t put your weight on it. Standing at the spouting bursts of water, we were firmly told to look at our feet, find our foothold and gradually descend. The maddening sound of the water makes it impossible to breathe and hear, it is only one’s inner instinct and gumption that are one’s sure shot compass.
Take the plunge
As soon as we get confident, the ground beneath our feet literally disappeared. The caved in wall, required a stronger effort from our end while we maneuvered through the wet chaos. The trick: not to panic, and think it’s all about walking backwards with a simple rope tied to the waist. With many undulations, and several slips and a minor swing we reached the shallow pool with a gregarious laugh over the feat we had just achieved. While women appeared more ready to take the plunge, all of us had to patiently wait for Khuve to come and scout us. As that didn’t happen, giving up, we climbed a steep mushy terrain with loose rocks all around, making us feel hungry and sore. Finally rescued, Theplas and Soan Papdi provided us nourishment. Waterfall rappelling is an absolute-must for those who are hoping to discover a different side to them through -- was a reflection we had, in dry clothes and a cup of tea in hand.
Cost Rs 1500 per person (including breakfast, lunch, and evening tea and snacks, along with the experience)
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Do’s and Dont’s
>> Always follow the instructions advised and make sure that all the adventure gear is firmly put by an expert irrespective of your knowledge.
>> Glide through the initial 10 feet of the waterfall in order to understand the mechanism of rappelling.
>> This cannot be stressed more: do not panic. In case, you get cold feet, signal your instructor to rescue you accordingly.
>> Constantly respond to instructions with a shout as it helps to overcome nervousness and lets your instructor know exactly what is happening.
What to carry
>> Change of clothes and footwear
>> Mosquito repellant
>> Pouch with handy refreshments (containing a chocolate, namkeen, glucose biscuits and Tang in case you feel suddenly low on energy)
>> Water proof clothing is preferable
>> Waterproof backpack
>> Camera (at your own risk -- with a water resistant cover)
>> Specific personal medication (Odati had a kit)
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