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THE BOOK - Sahyadri Adventure – Anirudh’s Dream

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 yet.

THE BOOK - Sahyadri Adventure – Koleshwar’s Secret

Searching for the remnants of Mumbai’s 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 Anirudh’s 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 – Anirudh’s Dream

…Vikram hurriedly lowered his torch. The cave floor was notched and uneven, as Chitra had anticipated. Jagged fissures split its rocky floor.

“ANIRUDH!” yelled Chitra. “I told you it was dangerous to move. Stop! There’s a crevasse behind you…and…FREEZE.” 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 wasn’t the chasm that had kindled Chitra’s alarm. On a rock beside Anirudh, a few inches from his feet, lay coiled a sinuous creature, its head raised, hood puffed. Vikram’s blood ran still.

A cobra.

“Don’t 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 won’t harm you…as long as you don’t move. I can handle the snake. I’m coming. Cobras are harmless unless threatened. It’s 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. Anirudh’s shadow was large and deathly still. Chitra’s crept slowly forward.

Salim babbled something in Marathi. Vikram and Chitra had no idea what he said, but the fear in the villager’s voice was evident.

“Quiet!” hissed Chitra. “Don’t panic him.”

But Chitra’s warning was too late. Anirudh’s 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 wasn’t 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 Prabhakaran’s 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 been obliterated.

It was then that the folly of his brainless reaction to impulse hit him…