THE BOOK - Sahyadri Adventure – Anirudh’s
Once upon a time there were fields in the city of Mumbai. In
its heartland there were forests where panthers roamed.
In those days the sea flooded the channels that separated
the seven islands of the city. On one of the islands
there was a Fort guarded by cannons that
bristled from its black
Vikram had no idea of the existence of this fort. Nor did his friend,
Anirudh. But in a cave, on a windswept mountain in the Sahyadris,
Anirudh had a dream. He dreamt of a boy named Irfan who once lived
in this Fort.
Chitra joins Vikram and Aditya and their new friend Anirudh, in the
Sahyadri Mountains, where they embark on their strangest adventure
THE BOOK - Sahyadri Adventure – Koleshwar’s
Searching for the remnants of Mumbais Fort is a futile exercise,
as not a wall or battlement of the forgotten edifice survives today.
But waking from his dream, Anirudh inexplicably knows of every gate,
contour and detail of this vanished Fort. Fascinated by Anirudhs
revelations, Vikram explores Mumbai with him.
Deep in the Sahyadri, rises a mountain known as Koleshwar. Striving
to make sense of his dream, Anirudh stumbles upon a forgotten legacy
that leads to the mountain. Buried on its ancient slopes is a secret
that only he has the power to decode.
Along with Anirudh Vikram, Aditya and Chitra are sucked
into an adventure that traverses from Mumbai to its neighbouring
mountain range, the Sahyadri.
EXTRACT from Sahyadri Adventure –
Vikram hurriedly lowered his torch. The cave floor was notched
and uneven, as Chitra had anticipated. Jagged fissures split its
ANIRUDH! yelled Chitra. I told you it was dangerous
to move. Stop! Theres a crevasse behind you
Chitra screamed the last word.
Vikram swung his beam about.
Anirudh had traversed far into the cave. He stood poised beside
a dark, gaping chasm, his back to it. But it wasnt the chasm
that had kindled Chitras alarm. On a rock beside Anirudh,
a few inches from his feet, lay coiled a sinuous creature, its head
raised, hood puffed. Vikrams blood ran still.
Dont move, squawked Chitra. The shrillness of
her tone was gone. Panicking Anirudh could prove disastrous. One
backward step and the chasm would swallow him. The snake wont
as long as you dont move. I can handle the snake.
Im coming. Cobras are harmless unless threatened. Its
not going to attack you
just remain still.
Anirudh stood like a statue, paralysed, his mouth frozen in a soundless
scream. Chitra edged forward. Silence reigned inside the cave. Outside,
the wind heaved and there was the patter of rain. Anirudhs
shadow was large and deathly still. Chitras crept slowly forward.
Salim babbled something in Marathi. Vikram and Chitra had no idea
what he said, but the fear in the villagers voice was evident.
Quiet! hissed Chitra. Dont panic him.
But Chitras warning was too late. Anirudhs right foot
moved shakily backward.
STOP! cried Vikram.
ANIRUDH screamed Chitra
Sahyadri Adventure - Koleshwar's Secret
Squatting in a frog-like crouch, Aditya thrust hard with his
legs and tumbled out of the machine.
On falling, Aditya slipped unconsciously into the routine drilled
into him by his instructors. Splaying his hands and feet about him,
he arched his body till it took on a curved, bow-shaped contour,
the classic pose of all free-falling skydivers. The plunging free-fall
was what Aditya enjoyed most when he felt as one with the
sky. Though he was hurtling like a stone to the ground, the sensation
that came to him, like it did to all skydivers, was that of extreme
freedom, as if the wide open spaces of the sky belonged to him.
But on this occasion it wasnt the liberating freedom of a
bird that Aditya sought. Aditya did not need reminding that this
was not a pleasure jump. Even if there had been no death threat
to his friends, the sub-5000 foot reading on Prabhakarans
altimeter would in any case have warned him so. Unlike pleasure
jumps, where the start altitude was usually 12,000 feet, he had
little time just three or maybe four minutes in the air.
After a few seconds of stabilised free-fall Aditya reached behind
him. When his fingers fastened about the ball-like knob of the chute
deployer, he yanked hard. Almost instantly he felt his harness tighten,
and as the pilot chute dragged out the main canopy, there was a
mild sensation of being lifted as the ballooning fabric above him
arrested his fall.
Cords suddenly sprouted from his rig, taut and strong, like steel.
There were four of them, the front risers and the back risers. Reaching
up along the back risers his hands grasped the toggles attached
to them and with a single heave he detached them so that the steering
lines were in his hands.
In control now, Aditya looked about him and when he saw nothing
but a sea of cloud beneath he was seized by a wave of panic. There
was not a sign of the plateau. Every trace of its wide expanse had
It was then that the folly of his brainless reaction to impulse