Harishchandragad trek and Kokankada Rappelling

In this year’s post-Christmas glow, add in the sparkle of adventure on the biggest rock face in Maharashtra.

Wide Aware announces a three day high adventure experience to charge your spirit – valley crossing and rappelling on the tallest rock face in Maharashtra – the Kokankada.

Yep, you got that right. This is the tallest rock face in Maharashtra – a breathtaking exposure of 1800ft under your fragile body held to safety by a rope and altitude of 4671ft above sea level. You do a 1200ft long valley crossing and then descend by means of a series of rappels to the base of the face. Believe me, you don’t want to miss this. Seats limited, so get in touch with Raka immediately if you are planning on coming – 09869433342.

The schedule is as follows:

Day 1: Kalyan to Khireshwar by tempo and trek to the top of Harishchandragad

Assemble at Kalyan and reach Khireshwar for lunch. Begin the 4-5 hour trek to the top of Harishchandragad and reach at the top of the fort by the evening tea.  Harishchandragad is one of the more challenging of the most popular hikes in this region. The fort has historical significance and a temple of Harishchandreshwar with a stone water tank in front of it. Accommodation is in caves. A short orientation walk later, settle into your cave for the day, and have an early night post dinner in preparation for the next days excitement.

Day 2: Valley Crossing across the Kokankada and Rappelling down from Bhavanidhar

After an early morning and breakfast we have a quick instruction session with the equipment and techniques explained for both the long and technical activities to follow. This is followed by the traverse. Kokankada is in a C shape, and the traverse is set across its two ends. Thus, during the valley crossing, you have the highest exposure possible in Maharashtra, without actually flying. The wind, the sheer scale of the surroundings, and most of all, the swaying rope holding our life safe present an unforgettable physical and emotional challenge. This is followed by a long rappel down the rock face – so long that you have to do it in stages to be able to maintain technique and safety. This day is an experience in the insignificance of man in front of a mountain, as well as the determination in man that makes him conquer one. We spend the night under the sky at the base of the Kokankada.

Day3: Trek back to road head and return to Mumbai

Wake up to nature, and hike for an hour or two back to the road  head. From here, the tempo will take us back to Kalyan. Expect to be back by evening.

Dates: Three day batches starting everyday from the 25th to 27th December 2010

Minimum Age: 15 years.

Charges: Rs. 3,500/- per head (inclusive of travel – Kalyan to Kalyan, stay and food, adventure activities – equipment, instruction and safety support).

Booking procedure: Call/SMS RAKA on 09869433342 or VIDYUT on 09892469127.This will reserve your seat for 2 days till you complete your payment. Registration will be confirmed only after complete payment and we are not responsible for any availability problems in case of delayed payments.

Payment information:

Choose whatever option is the most convenient.

  1. Courier a cheque (payable in Mumbai) made out in the name of “Wide Aware” (Address: A32/501 Yogi Park, Yogi Nagar, Borivali West, Mumbai 400091)
  2. Deposit cheque into our HDFC Account (Name: Wide Aware, HDFC Bank, Current account no: 02278310000028, Branch: Nehru Road, Vile Parle East)

Please do not deposit cash into the account without first speaking with us. Please inform Raka whenever you initiate payment – whether it is a cheque sent by courier or depositing a cheque into the account. This email needs to clarify the mode of payment, amount and participant names, ages and total number of participants.

Registrations strictly on first come first serve basis, as the batch size is limited.

Monsoon outing with J P Morgan

Here are some videos from a monsoon outing with a trek to Kondana caves and waterfall rappelling.

You can see the photos here http://www.wide-aware.com/photos/index.php/adventure/Waterfall-Rappelling/J-P-Morgan

General timepass in the water

Climbing through the grassy trail.

Coming up…..

All in all, a fun day. And it didn’t rain, which Pradnya said was good. “We were able to enjoy better. If it had rained, it would have been more trouble to climb”.

And now, people predict that monsoon withdrawal is likely to get delayed. What next? Watch this space. 😀

More exciting waterfall rappelling

Yogesh Nalawade, a participant on the waterfall rappelling that happened on the 22nd August has uploaded his photographs from the trip on his facebook profile.

A small, fun group. See the pics http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23318&id=100000601598554&ref=mf

You can see Hemant and Yatin (from our Konkankada and Jivdhan adventures)

Hemant often works as an instructor with us, while Yatin is Raka’s friend and likes to join all our crazy outings.

Self-image, imagination and finding out

I got an email from a friend today. She is doing well in work, has friends, and is alone. I see this happen more and more in a world that is increasingly isolated and interpersonal skills are a lower priority than evaluation.

Her words “I think all their friendliness is fake. I know I’m not all that good. So why are they all pretending to like me so much?” echo so many voices in and around us.

We have learned to evaluate ourselves and aim for perfection till our shortcomings are what fill our awareness and self-esteem. Truth is, why would anyone go through an effort to pretend to like someone who doesn’t directly create any profit for them?

It is this skewed image of ourselves that leads us to evaluate whether we ‘deserve’ what we get. It prevents us from enjoying what is, because we fear that it will not last and we would not like to get used to it and be hurt when it goes away. The reverse is true as well. Our image can tell us the we deserve more than we are getting and keep us discontented.

It helps to accept that like there is no way anyone can force us to feel something we don’t, there is no way that another’s feelings are our doing. Deserving is inapplicable.

Then, its time to go hunting for lost bits of ourself. Sure, you have many shortcomings. Is that the sum total of you?


Imagine that there is one person who admires you and you ask them what it is they like about you. Don’t evaluate the validity, just write down every word this imaginary person says. You don’t have to deserve it. It may be your looks. It may be that you have a great car. Or it may be that you have a fantastic sense of joy. Whatever it is. Write it down.

Then read it aloud. When did you appreciate yourself last? Not bragging, not presenting admirable qualities. Simply appreciating what you are – whether it is useful or not. Whether successful or not. Perhaps all that admiration you get sees these things. Its not fake. What’s fake is your belief that people need to admire only certain things about you that YOU have decided as worthy of admiration. People do what they will.

Waterfall Rappelling at Mahuli Fort

waterfall at Mahuli Fort

Update: Registrations closed.

Wide Aware has organized a series of simple hike and waterfall rappelling (canyoning) outings to Mahuli Fort, Asangaon.

Participation is open for teenagers and above in age, right up to your fifties. Please note that while there is nothing difficult, there is a fair amount of walking and physical exertion involved, and discuss any fitness and health concerns with Raka before confirming your participation.

Dates announced so far are 4th July, 18th July, 1st August and 15th August 2010. Batches Full. Continue reading “Waterfall Rappelling at Mahuli Fort” »

Related Images:

Monsoon Hike and Waterfall Rappelling to Kondana Caves

man rappelling down through a waterfall

Update: Only two batches on the 1st and 8th Aug 2010 are now open for registration. Registration on a strictly first come first serve basis. If you plan to attend, please contact us.

Waterfall rappelling (abseiling) outings to Kondana Caves this monsoon – not to be mistaken with Kondana fort, which is another place altogether. Waterfall rappelling or waterfall abseiling near Mumbai is catchy. Last year, we sold batches out. This year, we have planned more! Continue reading “Monsoon Hike and Waterfall Rappelling to Kondana Caves” »

Related Images:

Girimitra Sammelan 2010

The Girimitra Sammelan for 2010 has been announced by the Maharashtra Seva Sangh Mulund for July 10th and 11th 2010.

For those who don’t know, the Girimitra Samelan is an annual gathering of mountaineers and an important point for the give and take of new information, having access to experienced mountaineers, learning new techniques and recommendations being made and watching photos, slideshows and films related with mountaineering. Definitely not to be missed.

Every year there are competitions for films and photographs related with the outdoors which result in a rich array of knowledge and pleasure for the visitor, and appreciation, recognition if you are contributing. Hey, you may even win, and get that little extra support toward sustaining your passion.

Seats usually sell out waaaaay before the dates, so if you want to attend, be sure and make your registrations well in advance. If you are not from Mumbai, they do offer support for accommodation, so be sure to inquire.

I am attaching their brochure below. It is in Marathi and English, so if you don’t understand Marathi, don’t lose hope, the English will follow. Keep scrolling.

Please note that we are simply spreading information about this event and are in no way involved in its organization and management, so make your inquiries directly, as asking us will simply mean that we tell you to ask them.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is a changework philosophy. It focuses on positive change through inquiring in the direction of what works and desired change rather than analyzing what problems exist. The methodology looks at building diverse life-giving forces in an organization or any group of people and engaging their strengths to create the desired change.

Appreciative Inquiry involves 4 stages of work – discovery, dream, design and destiny. Each stage works with the postitive forces that are present. Positive powerful words have a way of getting positive forces aligning with us. We find what we seek.

The discovery stage is all about discovering the best in individuals, their potential and what works. The dream stage brings together the collective desired change or the “dream”. The design stage is where the plans to bring about the change happen, and the destiny (or as some people call it”delivery”) is when the plans are implemented and the positive change is brought about.

Like all methodologies, this one too has its own supporters and detractors. Some argue that it is essential to look at problems and stop them, which has no focus in the scheme of things in AI. Others argue that as what works gets built upon and strengthened, the problems get resolved as a part of the process and there is no need to reinforce them in the minds of people by bringing focus on them. What can’t be argued is that transformation happens as we focus on what gives a system life or life giving forces.

The main idea behind this is that we see things according to our frame of seeing them. In other words, we see what we are prepared to see. If we are attuned to problems, we find them everywhere, and we lose sight of the strengths, which leads to a powerless and frustrated state of being. By focusing on strengths, we operate from a state of empowerment and enable ourselves to bring about positive change. Some benifits of using Appreciative Inquiry include:

  • Less resistance to change: Change is often threatening to people, and the more attention is paid to threats, the more a person clings to equilibrium and resists change. On the other hand, when the person feels appreciated and secure and the change invites further empowerment, a person feels inclined to act to bring it about.
  • Positive Reinforcement: AI acknowledges the efforts, achievements and strengths of participants and leads to a sense of well being. It acknowledges what has been done rather than dissatisfaction about what is missing. This is also closer to reality in terms of what exists, rather than what could exist.
  • Unifies diverse forces: By accepting and appreciating diversity, AI encourages differences and polarities to co-exist in a group and collaborate toward the objective, without requiring them to conform.
  • Reinforces Positive Thinking: By creating a frame of appreciating positive forces and leading the participants to experience its impact on them, it encourages participants to look at positive influences in things voluntarily.

As a result of this, Appreciative Inquiry is described more as a state of being rather than something done only as a structured intervention. By learning to look at the positives in anything, we develop a habit of working with them by default, which leads to a sense of all being well and moving toward even better that empowers and frees the potential inherent in each of us.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

team members standing and planningThe adult experiential learning cycle is largely about action based learning. David Kolb’s Experiential learning model – one of the most commonly used models of learning styles defines four stages inthe learning cycle: concrete experience, observation and reflection, the formation of abstract concepts and testing in new situations…. which brings us back to concrete experience.

This is at the foundation of outdoor experiential learning programmes.

We remember best what we experience. We understand best what we identify with. We learn best by doing. This is the very foundation of effective learning. Awareness of the importance of personal experience in the retention of learning is an advantage when designing training activities.

Behaviour follows patterns that we create as we come across new situations and deal with them. Our solutions may not be the best possible, but they are what we have done before and are comfortable with. These patterns dictate our default approaches, methods and attitudes.

For example, careless person at home is unlikely to be careful with important documents at work. A person who resists change in his social life may take time to be comfortable with change at his workplace. A creative person is also likely to come up with interesting options when tickets to the movie he wanted to see are unavailable.

Most of the time, this is an unconscious process. Experience has taught us to prefer certain actors more than others. We learn to be careful of our belongings. We trust new acquaintances who have mannerisms we have noticed before in trustworthy people. These behaviors are triggered by previous experiences that we automatically take a reference from.

Experiential learning is increasing our reserve of reliable experiences that can help us adapt to any challenging situation we come across. When attempting to learn through experience, we first have to have a concrete experience of a scale such that it is brief enough to be analysed in detail, contains enough detail to draw learnings from and has meaning for the group analysing it.

On outdoor management training programmes, concrete experience is provided through training exercises, outdoor adventure activities and team building games.

Processing experiential learning activities through group discussions and feedback can derive much more information from even seemingly mundane events. For example:

When I miss an important meeting at work, I learn that I should be more careful. If I think of the causes and solutions, I immediately see that I need a planner, or that the alarm o n my mobile phone could have been used to avoid a situation like that; or that I should have planned for the meeting o n the day before. I could also decide that I should schedule such things for a particular time of the day when possible. These learnings can save quite a few missed appointments.

A person who misinterprets an important brief, if trained to analyse situations, could find a pattern of carelessness and identify situations when he is more likely to be hasty and be extra careful in those times.

It is about awareness. If we can become aware of what it is that we are doing, we easily are able to differentiate between what is effective and what is not

Motivation – the horse analogy

What is motivation? How do you make a horse run?

I was walking in our neighbourhood, when I saw a horse carriage drawn by a beautiful, unhappy horse. They are a rare enough sight these days, and like many people there, I stopped to watch. The driver flicked a whip on the horses rear, and off they went. I was watching the beautiful gait he had (it was a gelding). A couple of people standing smoking at a cigarette shop on the corner were watching idly and a child nearby was pointing ‘horse’ out to his mom, when he asked in a loud, indignant tone, “Why did he hit the horse?”

Trust a child to call a spade a spade. His mother proceeded to create a more acceptable picture of this voilence by explaining how it is a signal to the horse and it makes him move faster.

My mind took a vacation to the days when I used to offer joy rides on my own horses at the Rohtang Pass. In the six years I owned horses, I never owned an instrument to hurt a horse other than a stylish crop that was part of a riding set I purchased, and which my horses never even saw.

My horses were always full of ‘run’.

On a workplace motivation programme when we were talking about motivation theory, prychology motivation, achievement motivation, motivation techniques and such fancy concepts, we were talking about intrinsic motivation for an employee to do things, and how rewards and punishments are two sides of the same coin. This picture came to my mind, along with its associated memory of my own horses, and suddenly, the “motivation training” was clear.

What did I do to motivate my horses run so readily? All I did was loosen the reins and get into position for a canter and the horse cantered. I never had to poke, prod, scare or reward. It dawned on me that frisky horses run. That is what they are built for and that is their prime expression of joy. Keep ’em happy, and they love opportunities to run. Unlike that beautiful horse, I don’t remember that feeling of utter disinterest in my horses. They were interested, involved in the world around them.

And no, that didn’t happen from giving them a personality development lecture and elaborate theory of motivation. It happened, because I did all I could to keep them happy and free. When we ran, we ran together. It was an expression of our joy.

For me to motivate them to run would be me exerting control over them to make them act in a certain way. No matter how prettily I cloaked it, the fact would remain that my interest in them was in what they could do for me and I wasn’t really listening to who and how they were.

If I bring that to anything, like it is in the nature of a horse to run and not just its function, it is the nature of a human being to do things to their best. It is a sense of freedom, achievement. When the person (and that horse is a person too) is objectified to a function, his entire being is nullified and joy is irrelevant. Is it a wonder that motivation then comes up as a ‘to do’?

Motivation Exercise

Just think of all the women in your life who love to cook, but hate having to cook everyday. Is it possible for you to participate in the whole process of the food, if only to eat with joy?

Think of all those employees who need to be motivated. Is it possible for a moment for their joy to become more important than what they can do?

And no, I am not going to carry this to a logical conclusion on motivation, because I think I’d like to stay in this space where we can eliminate the need for motivation.