Rover Bike Hike cum Adventure Camp
On the banks of the river Savitri (near Mahad)
From 21st to 23rd February 2009
History of Mahad
Mahad is a city and a municipal council in Raigad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is situated about 175km to the south of Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay). It has become the center of attraction because of its beautiful surroundings and pleasant climate. Mahad has a personality of its own due to its mythological, historical, social and cultural importance. It is famous for the Satyagraha of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for the Dalits. It is a holy place for Buddhist clan. Apart from this, it had a glorious history during the rule of the great Maratha King Shivaji. Apart from this, Mahad was the central market for people of Poladpur, Raigad village and the cool Hill Station Mahableshwar. It has a very huge market in the part. The ancient Pandav Lene [The sculptured houses built in one night by the Pandavas.]
Surrounded by the Sahyadri mountain range, with Savitri and Gandhari rivers flowing through and Shivthar Ghat falls in the vicinity, it is an ideal getaway. Being one of the most developed area in the Konkan region, Mahad is a perfect combination of modern industrial advancements and ancient and valuable Indian culture.
Our campsite was on the banks of the Savtri River (Veer – near Mahad) which is around 175 Kms to the south of Mumbai on Mumbai-Goa highway.
Our activities included swimming, cooking, stargazing and other standard camping activities.
Places of interest:
The famous Raigad fort which is nearby and the Raigad Ropeway – the first and only ropeway in Maharasthra. The top of the Fort is reached through the whistling winds & clouds with flora criss-crossed with waterfalls. The Ropeway traverses a diagonal length of 760 mtrs and a steep ascent of 420 mtrs, in 4 minutes flat. Raigad Fort has been described by European historians as ‘The Gibraltar of the East’.
A hot water spring near village SAV adjacent to the campsite was an added attraction which we visited.
Another place of interest was “Gandhar Pale”, these caves of the Buddhist period which are very close to our campsite. However we did not have sufficient time to explore them.
Saturday 21st February
Start time : 6:00 a.m. from Kappawala agiary
5:15 a.m. – Kappawala agiary
We decided to gather outside the Kappawala agiary at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday morning for loading all luggages on the bikes for a safe and comfortable journey. We left Kappawala agiary sharp at 6:00 a.m. toward Panvel and then took the Bombay-Goa highway to Mahad. Breakfast was to be taken en route.
9:00 a.m. – Breakfast
We took our breakfast en route at a shop near the highway. Tea along with biscuits and batasa and sandwiches were on the table for us.
Picture showing the rovers having breakfast at a highway stall
10:30 a.m. – Savitri river
We reached Savitri river in good time. However now we were faced with the most important issue concerning the whole camp – the selection of a campsite. It was decided that in case we select a campsite, we may change it after staying for a day depending upon the certain conditions including the factor for avoiding night duty.
12:00 a.m. – Campsite selection
The search for the campsite took us almost one and a half hour. We found a nice spot for camping with shade near the banks, however being on the opposite banks, we were having difficulty reaching it. We were circling the area for quite some time. Finally after a long search, Homiar managed to find the spot. This ordeal made him go through very rough terrain which was full of sand (like the one in dirt biking).
A view of the campsite from the opposite bank
When Homiar found the spot and returned, (we were awaiting his return at another spot) we knew the route would not be very pleasant, judging from the dirt on the tyres of his bike. However we followed him through the sand covered road and finally we reached a spot though it was not the exact spot as seen from the opposite banks. At this juncture we were welcomed by a man who
claimed to be the owner of the
land. He was initially hesitant as if we were some terrorist going to set up a bomb plant. Later on after some nice talk with our Rover leader Neville, he agreed to let us stay on his self acclaimed plot.
We went a little ahead and found the exact spot selected from the opposite bank. So then came the task of pitching the tents. Homiar had brought a tent which was said to accommodate 4 persons, however 6 could comfortably sleep in it. We started pitching that tent first.
Now seeing that we were pretty serious campers, the self acclaimed land owner decided to give us some insights on an imaginary alligator seen only by him and his workers at odd instances in the night. He would give us regular updates on the location of the alligator as and when he felt it would help us make our mind to move from the campsite. However his hallucination did not help and we stayed for the entire duration at the same place.
Finally we pitched Jezil and Neville’ tent.
4:00 p.m. – Lunch
Lunch on the first day was not a very heavy one since we had eaten lot of biscuits and sandwiches on the road. Boiled potatoes and luncheon meat was on the menu.
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Market
Yazad, Neville, Feroz and Noshirwan went to the market to get stores for the night and following morning. Bread, Masoor dal, dry fish, eggs, carrots, tomatoes, lemon, curry leaves, cucumber etc were some of the items. During their visit to the market, they came across a traditional village cart which is used to make sugarcane juice. The cart made use of human power as compared to electricity used by modern sugarcane machines. All four of them relished Sugarcane juice made in the traditional manner.
8:00 p.m. – Axemanship/ Campfire lighting / cooking
The main log for the fire was cut during the evening with the help of axe borrowed from the neighboring workers. Dry leaves and twigs were collected and a fire was lighted.
Campfire – just before dinner
9:00 p.m. – Dinner
The dinner was made by Yazad. It was Masoor dal with bakery bread brought from the market accompanied with dry bumla.
10:00 p.m. – Night duty
12:00 a.m. – The Kaikhushroo
Well the first day one of our rover crew was absent. He is none other than Kaikhushroo. He did not join us from Mumbai directly as he had to attend office. So he chose to meet us at Mahad directly in the night. At about 12:00 he reached Veer (somewhat 20 kms from our campsite). However since it was very dark and the road from the campsite to the main highway was difficult to ride in pitch dark conditions, he was to be picked up in the morning. So Kaikhushroo slept late in the night right near the highway in the middle of nowhere prone to all dangerous men and dacoits who were looking for a wonderful opportunity to rob him. Nothing of any such sort happened, however he found the night a bit cold. He was picked up early in the morning to join our camp.
Sunday 22nd February
10:00 a.m. – Breakfast
The breakfast was different than yesterday, as we had a new rover mate – Kaikhaasroo. He had brought for us a nice juicy watermelon and Yazad made delicious Scrambled eggs and Rava.
11:00 a.m. – Bavdi bath / hot water springs
Hot water spring
We wanted to have a bath in the river, however we were unsure of the chemical contents of the river water as we were informed by the land owner that the water contained chemicals which not only rendered it unfit for drinking but also for having a bath. So we inquired about some place which could be used for having a bath. After lot of searching, he found out about hot water springs located quite near our campsite which is used by villagers for having daily baths.
So we went in search of this hot water spring which was found to be located near a Dargah. However when we reached there we found the water quite dirty though it was quite warm. So instead we chose to have bath with the water from the Bavdi (Well) whose water we used for drinking purpose and cooking.
2:00 p.m. – Lunch
The lunch in the afternoon was lead by Chef Homiar. He prepared the famous South Indian Curry. The fact that we had very little spices to aid our preparation calls for high appreciation of our chef.
3:30 – Donkey
Well since we were all rovers on a camp, we decided to play some outdoor game. So someone suggested – Donkey. The game was simple. All rovers form a circle, they have to throw a ball to anyone. If the person misses the catch, then he gets the tag ‘D’. If he misses one more, he gets the tag ‘DO’. This goes on until an person gets the tag ‘DONKEY’ and finally he has to leave the circle. This way the game proceeds and finally, the last to remain in the game is the winner.
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Swimming in the river
After lunch, Homiar was determined to have a proper swimming session in the river and not just some shower with water from the Bavdi. Here, Sagar and Jezil were not interested to travel again, so chose to guard the campsite and collect firewood for the campfire until we return.
Swimming in the river
Undoubtedly, swimming was one of the most memorable experience in the camp. Initially we had trouble finding the right spot for swimming. But later we found the best possible place, secluded from the public eye.
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Market
After the refreshing swimming experience in the river, we headed for the market to collect stores for the dinner. First we found a sugarcane juice cart similar to the traditional one encountered on the previous visit to the market. All except Hasnoor, enjoyed two rounds of fresh Sugarcane Juice. Then we headed for the market.
First we went to the main market and later on decided instead to go to our usual market. Tonight we were planning for a nice dinner, so we had to purchase some important items. A clay pot, lantern, chicken and other ingredients were purchased.
8:00 – 9:30 p.m. – Campfire lighting / cooking
First on the menu were noodles. Homiar cooked the noodles on the stove and then headed for the main delicacy – pot chicken. We needed the fire to be hot enough to cook the chicken and other ingredients. So everyone worked hard to gather dry leaves, and twigs from the woods to light the fire. The main log was cut by Jezil and Sagar in the evening in the absence of other rovers (who had gone for swimming). Tonight, the fire was bigger compared to the previous night. The pot was placed directly into the fire to be heated. We kept the pot into the fire till about 9:30 p.m. and finally removed it. The pot was cracked open and lo behold, the chicken is ready to be served.
A view of the cooked pot chicken
Noshirwan, Chef Homiar and Yazad preparing the pot chicken
9:30 p.m. – Dinner
Tonight’ dinner was to be like none other. Homiar being in full form, had used a mind boggling recipe to make an unusual dish. The dish was definitely well appreciated and it was fun to prepare too. Arzan would eat anything and everything that came from that pot apart from chicken which even others refused to touch. All in all the dinner was great.
10:30 a.m. – Night Duty
Today’ night duty was better than yesterday as we had a new crew member – Kaikhushroo. So everyone had to perform their duty only for one and a half hour as compared to two hours for the previous night. The lantern purchased by Homiar from the market the same evening was of great help as it kept the place lighted aiding the vision in the dark.
Monday 23rd February
8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
We had Baked beans, followed by American corn, followed by ham and Thepla and Khakra. Undoubtedly all agreed that this was quite a heavy breakfast eaten heartily for the long way back to Mumbai.
10:00 a.m. – Departure from campsite
Finally the saddest part of the three days – leaving the campsite had come. As the famous proverb goes – “All good things come to an end”, so too our adventure packed days had come to an end.
The crew – just before departure from the campsite
We had packed our luggage and loaded our bikes just like the way we had while leaving from Mumbai. We took some pictures, cleared the place and bid farewell to the workers and
the owner of the land. It was
very ironical, as we were sad to
leave the place while he was very happy to see us go.
2:00 p.m. – Kapawala agiary
Finish time : 2:00 p.m. at Kappawala agiary
It was decided that the rider and pillion will share the money 50:50 for the fuel.
Apart from that the cost for the entire hike, accounted by none other than our chartered accountant Sagar was Rs. 265/- per person.
Day 1 (21st Feb)
Breakfast Tea (on a highway stall) with biscuits,
Lunch Boiled Potatoes with Luncheon meat
Dinner Masoor daal with bakery bread
Dry Bumla with gravy
Day 2 (22nd Feb)
Breakfast Scrambled eggs with Slice bread / Rava
Watermelon (Worth Rs. 70 – Courtesy Kai khaasro)
Lunch Famous Curry Rice (with salad)
Dinner Chings Noodles,
Day 3 (23rd Feb)
Breakfast Baked beans, American corn, Ham –Tins
The following deserve to be acknowledged for their efforts either directly or indirectly, for the bike hike to be successful
Ø Homiar Hathiram – For organizing and leading the hike. His enthusiasm and his knack for always doing the unthinkable made this event a great success.
Ø The neighbouring workers (at the campsite) – For lending us their axe (for chopping wood for the campfire) and water for cooking when it was required.
Ø Jezil’ parents for their generous hospitality before departure to and on arrival from the hike.
Ø The self appointed land owner – For allowing us to use his self acclaimed property for the campsite and giving us regular updates on the imaginary alligator in the river.
Ø The imaginary alligator that was kind enough to not show up so as to forgo the need for us to evacuate the campsite.