Rapid escape: Rafting down the Kundalika
Kolad is a tiny hamlet near Mumbai, on the Mumbai-Goa route. Dotted with natural ponds and numerous waterfalls, the place is ideal for those looking for a hideout or a getaway to nature.
Even though it's just about 120 km from Dadar in Mumbai, connectivity is low so mobile phones will not be too much of a bother.
Text and photographs: Sudhanshu Yadav
Green and serene
Kolad offers a wide range of adventure and leisure activities. If you are a nature lover, you will love the beautiful drive that proves the adage: the path to glory is always better than the destination. The pond in this picture is one of the many we saw on our way and could not help but stop to get drenched and breathe in the fresh air.
The water to these ponds comes from tiny streams flowing down the mountains so one need not worry about it being salty or chlorinated. The best part about the place was the low headcount. While most people from Mumbai and Pune prefer Lonavala or Khandala, Kolad is for those who want to beat the crowd.
Kolad is situated on the banks of the river Kundalika, a popular river rafting destination. It is an all-season river with an undiscovered array of flora and fauna. We purchased locally made fishing gear from the local market and tried our hands at angling. To our dismay we could not hook a single fish, while the locals walked away with their catches.
My desire to click a la fisherman picture died just there. But it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours, sipping our drinks in the serene and picturesque surrounds. We were told quite a few of Mumbai's elite own properties not to far from the river.
The houses in the picture and in inset are supposedly of some bigshots from Mumbai, the locals informed us.
When you visit a place where you know you have nothing to do, you begin to consider doing something adventurous rather than just laze around. Our host had told us about the number of waterfalls around the place. A short walk of less than two km took us to this beautiful cascade of white water. With not a single soul in sight we all decided to take the plunge, literally.
The path itself was quite an arduous one but as you reach the waterfall, you feel like the first steps into heaven and it cleanses you inside out -- total bliss! The water was so much cleaner and serene than that near Bhushi Dam in Lonavala. A word of caution: although it is safe to go under the waterfall, be careful as there are no lifeguards. Secondly, when it rains heavily the force of the waterfall can crack you skull!
Adventure here we come!
What is a trip to Kolad without rafting!
From Kolad drive down towards Bhira on the Goa highway and take a left turn after two km towards Pune. About six km before Bhira, take a left turn again to reach the rafting point. White Water rafting is the organisation that undertakes water sports and has the latest equipment and lifeguards.
If you are lucky or have reached before 8 am, the gates of the Bhira Dam are opened and the serene river takes monster form finding its way through rocks and trees, and gulping down everything in its path. The raft bobs ups and down like its travelling over boulders or rocks.
We rafted in the second lot and could see that the water was just below the turbulent level as we set sail. The total distance via river is 12 km and takes some two-and-a-half hours to complete. They also allow you to swim in the river which is about 20 to 50 feet deep at most places. For those who are not swimmers, the life jacket can hold you afloat for 48 hours.
The experience is indescribable. Don't forget to lift the raft back though. Boy, the things they make you do in the name of adventure!
A farm stay
We stayed at a resort called Doctor's Farm. It's not lavish by any means but offers all the amenities one would require in a jungle. It is basically a horticulture farm and has pretty plantations of flowers and trees. As for the swimming pool, they pump in river water. Also, they have fishing rods placed at all the banks.
Hammocks, swings, basketball court, volleyball court, river-side restaurant and delightful views make it a great place to spend a couple of days. Ask the owner and he will arrange for the rafting as well. A helpful tip, keep Odomos (or any effective mosquito repellant) handy.
Can check their website: www.doctorsfarm.com for reservations.
Expenses: Rafting, boarding and food for an overnight stay is Rs 3,000 per person
How to reach
The drive to the place is heavenly to say least. However, do not forget the spare wheels!
For those driving to Kolad, drive till Panvel and take a turn towards Pen just before the Pune highway begins. A 25-km drive will take you to Vadhkal Naka, where you will have to turn left for the Goa highway towards Kolad via Nagothane. State transport buses are also available and the nearest railway station is Nagothane.