Thursday, November 10, 2016

Travel: Go camping to tranquil Uttan in Bhayander

Take a walk down to the rocky beach
Take a walk down to the rocky beach

You’re sitting under the stars, around a stage lit only by the soft glow emanating from the paper lanterns strung above it. Before you stand four musicians, strumming on their guitars and effortlessly switching from one song to the next. When they bid the audience goodbye, you suddenly realise they had been jamming for nearly four hours straight. Time truly flies when you’re having fun, and BandCamp provides that in heaps.

Some of the city’s best Indie musicians perform at the outdoor venue
Some of the city’s best Indie musicians perform at the outdoor venue

BandCamp is a weekend camping experience organised by city-based travel company White Collar Hippie. The campsite is located on a hillock in the seaside town of Uttan, around 55km from Bandra. In its third season now, BandCamp will be hosting music nights on Saturdays, and a host of other experiences.

Find yourself a comfy spot
Find yourself a comfy spot

Paradise nearby
With the help of Google Maps, it’s easy to find your destination. On arrival, you’ll be handed your sleeping bags and a little goodie bag holding essentials like a tiny flashlight, soap strips and mosquito repellent. Next comes the fun task of picking your tent for the night from among the many dotting the undulating, grassy slopes. The tents, although plenty in number, are spaced far enough away from each other so as to afford campers privacy. And, in a far corner of the site, you will find modern washrooms and open-roof showers, perfect for us city slickers.

Savour perfectly grilled meat right off the barbecue pit. Pics/Shraddha Uchil
Savour perfectly grilled meat right off the barbecue pit. Pics/Shraddha Uchil

Once you’re settled in, take some time to explore your surroundings. The common area, with its stash of books, board games and hammocks, is where all the fun is. Later, you can join all the other campers for a downhill walk to a rocky beach. You’ll pass through a fishing village, meeting friendly and curious locals along the way, until you get to the shore, just in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon.

The uphill climb is strenuous, but the sight that greets you when you return will make you forget those aching muscles. By nightfall, the space sheds its cheeriness and dons dreamy robes, courtesy lanterns that appear to float mid-air. It’s like you’re being prepared for the most magical part of the night — the music.

R&R, unlimited
While the musicians are still setting up on the “stage” in the common area, serve yourself some barbecued chicken or paneer fresh off the grill and seat yourself in the amphitheatre, which is a naturally sculpted rock face. Soon enough, they will take the stage, drawing you in with their soulful tunes and sharing witty banter between songs.

At some point, dinner — cooked at a home in the village you earlier passed — is served, after which the bonfire is lit. Huddle around it to keep yourself toasty and swap stories with fellow campers. Better yet, roast marshmallows, jam them between crackers slathered in Nutella, and sink your teeth in.

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, bring out the games — there’s Taboo, Jenga, and good ol’ Monopoly too. For a small fee, you could also go swimming at the resort next door. Or, you could just be lazy and lounge in a hammock until you have to head back to the city.

At: BandCamp, behind U-Tan Sea Resort, Uttan, Bhayander (W)
Log on to:
Call: 9930260747
Cost: Rs 3,000

Getting there

By car: Head north via NH8 past the Dahisar check naka, take a left for Mira Road and follow the Uttan-Gorai Road. Once in Uttan, look out for signs directing you to U-Tan Sea Resort. The way to the campsite is through the resort. If you’re still unsure, search for the resort on Google Maps.

By autorickshaw: Take a ferry from Gorai. Once you’ve crossed the creek, hail a rickshaw, haggle a bit and get to the resort. You can also board a train and alight at Bhayander station. Hail an auto from there.

What else is in store
>> From November 18 to 20, you can be part of a Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art form) workshop at BandCamp. Over two-and-a-half days, you will go through six classes with Capoeira Mumbai. There will also be bonfires, a barbecue, strolls, and great food (Rs 8,000).

>> On November 26 and 27, attend Verse Voyage 2.0. Curated by The Poetry Club, Mumbai, it will let you experience poetry in the outdoors. There will also be activities to help you collaborate and build poems with your fellow campers/poets (Rs 3,800).

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