Lonavala, India: A Trip to Della Adventure
By Mridula Dwivedi
Going by the name, I thought Della would be all about adventure activities but it was much more than that. This trip became possible because of the magic that sometimes happens via emails. I got an invitation from Della Adventure to spend a weekend with them at Lonavala. Lonavala is a weekend getaway from Mumbai.
An Air India Flight
But as I was traveling from Gurgaon, I took an Air India flight from Delhi. Given the reputation of the airline, I was a little apprehensive, but the flight was surprisingly OK. They even had personalized TV screens on the seats but the movie collection was quite old.
I watched a 1972 Dilip Kumar starring Dastaan and by the time the movie was over the plane was landing at Mumbai.
I was accompanied by two young ladies Avantika and Sanyukta from the airport to Lonavala. The journey took roughly two hours and it was uneventful. By now it was late afternoon and we straightaway headed for a sumptuous lunch.
The Chef was at our table and I asked for something Chinese that was not spicy. We Indians tend to make Chinese dishes with a lot of spice. When the food arrived my rice and the vegetables were done to perfection. We were joined by the marketing manager of Della, Dorota Ziolkowska, so it was an all-women party.
Della Camps – And They Call it a Tent!
We all were staying at Della Camps. It is a collection of luxury tents complete with Jacuzzi and air conditioning. My tent was comfortable but I hardly spent any time inside it.
There are tables and chairs on the front porch and I saw other guests enjoying morning tea out there. But you know what I liked most? I had forgotten to bring a toothbrush! And guess what? Apart from the usual stuff, there was a toothbrush as well in the bathroom. But after a quick bath, it was time to hit the adventure area
The Adventure Activities
Avantika and Sanyukta made me experiment with a lot of adventure stuff. I would not have done half of it without their constant “you should try this.”
The first thing that I tried was the high rope activities. When I started climbing up the platform I was quite sure that at some stage I would miss a step and I would be hanging from the safety rope! It has been ages since I did anything like this and I am not very fit at the moment. OK, I will say it the other way around, I am quite unfit at the moment compared to the past.
The High Rope Activities
There are six to seven high rope towers and I did it all. The details of some of the individual activities can be found from Della’s website. They are named Horizontal Net, Burma Bridge, Vertical Net Crossing, and Burma Loop
The person accompanying me on the ropes did the fabulous hands-off job. He was a step or two behind me, so I felt reassured all the time but he would always let me do my own thing. I was quite impressed at how well trained they were.
I kept on saying to him before every obstacle, “Latak tou nahain jaaonge” (I hope I am not going to hang out of the safety rope) and he kept on telling me, “usko bhi experience kar ke dekh lo” (you should experience that as well). But I did not dangle from the safety rope even once! After the thrill of the high rope, I did not try the low rope activities. Maybe that was a mistake?
Another activity I tried was an ATV ride. I have to say I am quite a chicken when it comes to such vehicles. In spite of being padded up so well, I refused to go alone on the bike. I went with an instructor.
Young lads were doing the ATV rides on their own, but I couldn’t. I would rather walk or use a mountain bike than try out a motorized one. It was fun to zip around on the dirt track but only with an instructor along with me. The activity seems to be popular with young children; I could see them whizzing past the track almost all the time. I think if there is a next time I would try it out on my own but I do not promise!
I also tried out an activity called the flying fox. I have done variants of this before, last time at Jim Corbett but the line at Della is longer and higher. You basically are suspended from a steel rope high up and then properly harnessed; you hang from it and travel at a high speed to the other end! It is a thrilling ride.
Della Enclave- Luxury Villas
By now it was around 8:30 pm, after some sugarcane juice we headed to Della Enclave. I was told that the complex included a set of villas apart from the Adventure bit. I was also told that the owner of Della Group, Mr. Jimmy Mistry would join us. I was scratching my head and wondering what would I know about villas? That is still largely true, but I have some tales to tell.
The tour of the Villas was certainly an out of my league experience. We visited two villas. One was still unfurnished and the other was Mr. Mistry’s personal Villa. He told us that for his own he has joined two villas. The concept is that the Villas can be bought as a holiday home or a second home. It is of course priced way beyond my league.
What do I think of the villas? Of course they are fabulous, with the dining room and the master bedroom having 20-foot ceilings. Also there is a bath out in the open (shielded by creepers) which I found quite fascinating.
When I was listening to Mr. Mistry explaining about his own villa, I told him somewhere midway through, “I will be honest with you Mr. Mistry, I have lost it.” And I really had lost it, I had no idea how many rooms I had been through and which part of the villa I was at that moment.
I was not sure how he would take the remark, but he laughed it off. I actually risked making such a remark because he too was saying at one point about a giant size clock, “It is actually Chinese, it only looks old.” He has a tongue-in-cheek style and is not afraid to make his views known. I could sense his pride in some of the projects, particularly the Kingfisher Headquarters at Bangalore.
Are you wondering about the price of the villas? What is your guess? I was actually quite hesitant to ask the price. At one point Mr. Mistry remarked, “I would say it is value for money.” I added, “I would say it has to be value for a lot of money.”
Mr. Mistry laughed and added, “My specialty is to use expensive-looking things whereas they may not have cost as much money.” That is when I saw the opportunity to ask the price. He said not his own villa as they are two combined but the others go for a price of 3 crore rupees (a little more than 600,000 dollars).
A Late Night Massage
After we came out of this tour we went in for a late dinner. And at 11:00 pm Avantika and Sanyukta asked me, “Would you like to go for a massage now?” I inwardly groaned, because I was ready to fall asleep on my feet. But then I decided to give it a try. So off we went to the Spa and Salon, which are located in the same building.
I went in for a Swedish massage. When I came after an hour both the girls asked me about my experience. I have to admit it was a good idea in the end and I found it quite relaxing. I cannot remember in ages when was it last time that I was awake and kept still for an hour! So finally after 12.00 midnight I got to crash.
Even after the late-night sleep, I got up at 6:40 am which is very early morning by my standards. I went for a quiet walk and took some pictures of the scenery around. There were a lot of birds too but I could capture only a Red Whiskered Bulbul.
Around 9:00 am we headed for a heavy breakfast followed by Bungee Trampoline jumping. This Bungee Trampoline looks very simple, but you need to keep pushing yourself up physically to keep going up. I gave up after a few minutes but I enjoyed every minute of it for sure.
I never thought adults could also do it; I always had a notion it was for kids, but now I know better. Their weight limit was somewhere between 70-80 kg. Our next stop was Della Salon and once again it was Avantika and Sanyukta who persuaded me to get in there.
The Della Salon
I was wondering what to do at the Salon. Then it occurred to me that my hair needed a good trimming. But the hairstylist Alex at Della had other ideas! He asked me if I would like to cut my hair in layers, though he would not chop much lengthwise. I wonder what prompted me to say yes, but then I guess the picture says it all. That is my new haircut (I usually keep my hair broom style!) that I acquired at Della. The stylist seen in the picture is Alex (he said his real name is Sailesh but everyone calls him Alex) and he just did wonders with my hair. All three girls told me I look like a different person!
After this haircut adventure, we headed back for lunch. Immediately after that, we headed back to Mumbai. On my flight, I could see a big moon out in the sky which made every water body glow silver. It looked like the earth was full of silver linings. And at home no one at first even noticed the difference in my hair style! The trouble is I also don’t know how to maintain it like that! So I have gone back to my broom style. But experimenting with my hair was probably the biggest adventure of it all!