The thrill of Waterfall rappelling

waterfall rappelling near Pune

Young Enthusiast tourists

Prathamesh is hardly 21 years old., a young chap, a newly certified law practitioner. It had been months he had met his college buddies. As they met after almost five months, they decided to spend quality time together. They wanted to go away from all the chaos of the city life. They didn’t want any noise and wanted a place which would offer them basic amenities and loads of peace and serene beauty of nature. They googled and compared different campsites near Pune. Finally they concluded to camp at Nisargshala, last weekend.

Nature Sharing experiences @ Nisargshala – Curious about a nest of a small bird, hung to a leaf

Nature Sharing experiences @ Nisargshala – Curious about a nest of a small bird, hung to a leaf

Welcome and Nisargshala Specialty BBQ

Prathamesh had done many treks before this but camping at such a place which completely away from noise and air pollution was his first experience. When they arrived the campsite, they were all wet in the rain showers, while on the way to Nisargshala. Enroute Nisargshala we literally drive through the clouds. As we cross Velhe village, the drive becomes adventurous and and joyous. Keeping Budhla (One of the watch towers of fort Torna) on the left, as we drive further towards Nisargshala, we drive along a ridge which is formed by two valleys. Especially in Monsoon driving from the ridge is great experience.

If some group confirms their camping with us, we make sure they accurate and proper instructions about how to reach the campsite, which route to take, which route’s road condition is good and which is bad, what all places one can visit enroute to Nisargshala, etc. Also we provide all information about the basics of camping and what care we should take when we are in the jungle like area.

As Prathamesh and his gang arrived the camp site , they were totally wet. So I showed them their thents and asked them to get changed quickly to have tea with biscuits. After having tea and biscuits they lit up the BBQ grill after tiring efforts of half an hour. As it was raining with and windy all over, lighting up the grill was a challenge. And that’s the fun when you are camping in wild. It started getting darker and cicadas made sure that the night time experience is more intense by making noise from all the directions. Then was the time to grill the BBQ. There is technique to best cook BBQ on the charcoal grill. We teach all the participants how cook/ roast BBQ, how to use oil or butter, how to put the flame down and almost everything of BBQ. Many of our guests have tried BBQ at home after learning it at Nisargshala. This time, as I saw the youngsters shivering with cold and they looked hungry also so I arranged a whole chicken and decided to offer them stuffed whole chicken. They all liked it so much that their reaction was like this should be one of the best BBQ experience they have ever had.

They kept on having good time around bonfire till late night. The tents were all waterproof and warm. I don’t even remember what time they called off the day.

Stuffed whole Chicken

Stuffed whole Chicken

Next morning after the breakfast, we set off for waterfall rappelling. The place where we do rappelling is hardly 20 minutes’ walk from wonderful natural world. This particular cliff is approximately 50 feet high. In summer this cliff is dry. However in monsoon it turns into an astonishing waterfall. Water adds up from many small stream in the mountain finally makes it a big waterfall. Water literally pours from this much height. Even it’s a 50 ft waterfall, still it makes a perfect waterfall to try a novice’s hand on waterfall rappelling.

By the time I finished with anchoring the ropes, testing and re-testing the load bearing capacity as well the knots, Prathamesh and his troop were already at the rappelling site.

Our first task was to give a demonstration to the participants. One of our (Nisargshala) team members normally demonstrates how rappelling has to be done. While demonstrating he rappels down the fall. This time we had Ajit Naik (owner of and a successful entrepreneur) as the volunteer. I am lucky to have many of my friends join me as volunteers at Nisargshala. Many are big tycoons in their respective industries.

What is rappelling?

Rappelling an adventure sport. This sport offers thrill and amazing feeling of victory. Like each sport has its own hazards, Rappelling also carries some of its own life threatening hazards. What are the threats associated with rappelling? If the organiser commits any inaccuracy, the very life of the participant is at stake. This much dangerous rappelling activity is !!

The participants who come for rappelling, are granted to make slipups as they are new to this sport. And they do blunders while rappelling down the waterfall. However the organisers, Nisargshala in this case make sure that each and everything is tested and safe. The rescue set up must also be ready before someone rappels down the waterfall.

Trained and experienced instructors of Nisargshala 

Many participants, look closely how I set up the anchors, how I tie knots and tests everything. Curiously Prathamesh asked where I learnt all this. Now for me this was an opportunity to build confidence in the participants about their instructor. In a very loud voice, I told them about my training of mountaineering and certification. As I finished telling this, I could see increase in comfort level of all the participants.

Yashdeep and I, both got trained in all mountaineering skill in one the best institutes in the world.

Whereever you go for rappelling, don’t forget to ask the instructors where they got trained and certified from? It’s very important as you know; you are dealing with greatest fear ahead.

Some quality institutes in India where such trainings are conducted are as follows.

  1. Nehru Institute of Mountaineering – This is a government body and the instructors of this are in the army. Rarely citizens may also be as coaches but they are given an opportunity to succeed
  2. Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling
  3. Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering And Winter Sports, Pahalgam
  4. Atal Bihari Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali

The Thrill begins

Back to the main story now. As Ajit rappelled down, two more participants also went down quickly. There hardly any difference in rappelling and waterfall rappelling. In waterfall rappelling, the cliff turns in waterfall and you go down the fall along with gushing flow/fall of water. And in regular rappelling the cliff remains dry. The skills are almost the same in both the variations. Like keeping distance in legs in proportion with you height to keep up straight and not loose balance, keeping the knees straight,etc. I instruct every participant individually as they come forward to meet the fear. Its only the matter of first 2-3 feet. Once you understand the the technique and you follow the instructions given by me, then there remains no fear. Once the fear is over, we you start enjoying every single moment upclose with rocks, gushing waterfall and the thrilling feeling of victory. This joy cannot even be expressed in words.

Ashish Joshi at such a beginning. File Photo 2017

Ashish Joshi at such a beginning. File Photo 2017

The biggest factor in this sport is overcoming the fear. In the very first 2-3 steps down, I can see the life threatening fear on the face and in the eyes of the participants.

Now it was Prathamesh’ s turn to face it. Though he started confidently, I could see the alarming panic in his eyes. Off course this fear is needless. In the beginning itself we tell very clearly that you are very safe, there is a safety rope in my hand and another safety is in the hands of volunteer standing right at the bottom of the waterfall. There is no need to worry at all. All this is being told every time a participant starts rappelling down. And everybody else waiting for their turn, listens to it repeatedly. But still people get afraid when they take first step down the waterfall. And you what, it human to get afraid, There should never be inferiority complex when you or anybody feel the fear. In difficult times, we try to keep up with situation and make sure we exist through all odds, that’s what fear is! So its quite OKAY to get afraid. In this state of fear, our intellect does work, we are controlled by the situation around and we are unable to take decisions. When you are in fear while rappelling this all results in loosing balance, slipping shoes and even the participant at one peak time of fear feel that he has fallen down. While all this is happening, the person who can see the participant (Normally Yashdeep or me), can see the expressions on the face of the participants. These expressions are actually the reflection of death, and we can see that reflection on the face of participant.

….And you win the battle

Participant atop the greatest fear ever he has had, loses all control and leave himself to in such a way that, there is nothing more to do to save his very life. At this point of time, he is captivated totally by the fear and is not in state to listen to the instructions, that I keep on giving from the top of waterfall. The only thing participant can see is …..

I could see the same fear in the eyes of Prathmesh.

In this state of mind, he does whatever he can do to be alive. These also also things he does are of no use because those are not the techniques to reach the bottom quickly. His fear is virtual. His fear is only upto himself. He is not in his senses at all. He is controlled by the fear. Once he realises that all his efforts are hopeless and are not going to save him, either he recollects the instructions or he looks up to me with all his attention in his ears. All this happen in the span of hardly one to two minutes.

Now Prathmesh was in the state to listen to me. I reiterated the same instructions and now he was following the instructions and was taking steps down the fall inch by inch. With every inch down, the participant learns to enjoy the thrill. With every feet down he learns that the fear was no more. With every inch down he realises that he has won. With every inch down he understands that the victory is his own. With every inch down he realises the worth of valour within. This awesome moment of victory is just life transforming.

waterfall rappelling near Pune

victory is precious

As he rappels down, he finds out that rappelling is actually very easy. Its just the technique he has to learn and that’s it. Further down he tries some advanced skills of rappelling like hopping.

Taking the surges of torrential waterfall on his body, he somewhere feels that his entire body is being rejuvenated. Every single body cell in re-energized. My personal experience is not less than this. And quite possible that everybody gets the same feeling or may be different. Whatever feelings you are on to, those feeling must be of really extraordinary standards.

We feel light in the waterfall. Inertia is no longer with us. Our perception to look at nature, world, colleagues, parter, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend can change drastically. Ilfe is beautiful. Life is precious and every single moment that we are gifted with must be lived to its fullest. While stepping down the waterfall, the participant is almost perpendicular to the cliff and the water current. What he is facing is the sky and clouds. While looking at the sky, which has no end, one might feel the tiny bodily existence of our is nothing compared to sky.

The downpour of water hits his legs, thighs. Though the surge is hitting his face and chest directly, some big drops of water, which size up to a ball can be seen falling apart from the waterfall and dropping on to his face and chest. These drops look like diamonds when the light penetrates and refracts through them. Each drop of water, while falling down, gets divided in many and every such divided drop further splits in many droplets, pearls. And the participant can see all this transformation with his own eyes, right in front of him.

Such a close encounter this is with waterfall.

Once the participant is sure about his very own existence, there is a high probability that he feels grateful towards whatever he has in his life. This kind of experience can teach us to be appreciative about things we have, about relationships we have, about nature and about everything around.

What a great sense of achievement that can be. WOW!!!

Now Prathamesh has learnt the correct technique of waterfall rappelling. He was descending down the stream with ease. Once the volunteer below sees the increased confidence level of participant, the volunteer then starts instructing the participant about the advanced techniques in rappelling. At this point the participant is relishing the experience to its fullest. One particular pose of locking yourself, almost parallel to the earth and taking the water surge directly on the body is my favourite experience.

Ajit’s invention – Jacuzzi massage @ Waterfall

Ajit from below, instructed Prathmesh about this pose and Prathamesh did it.

Now the participant feels that the cliff should never end and the rappelling should go on for eternity. But Alas, there is an end to this great fun.

At this point Ajit supports the participant and gets him off the cliff. Removes all the adventure gears from his body and sends it up the waterfall for the next person. By the time next person starts actual rappelling, Ajit then teaches earlier participant about how to take Jacuzzi massage under the waterfall.

Getting ready for rappelling, losing balance , losing all hopes, and regathering the courage, taking correct steps, learning the technique, enjoying the rappelling thrill, looking at the sky, the clouds, those big drops and transformed droplet pearls, being parallel to the earth and taking the onrush of waterfall on body, all this happen in not more than 3 minutes.

Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up

All participants from Prathmesh’s group did waterfall rappelling. But what Prathmesh experienced was the peak thrill of waterfall rappelling. The more fear you have the more thrill and the more bliss you get.

We took off all the equipment and ropes and reached campsite. Everybody was super hungry. We had stomachful of authentic village food. After having the food, Prathamesh and gang got ready to see us off. They kept on waving at us until they were out of sight.

Hope you liked the thrill of waterfall rappelling. Share if you like the rappelling thrill.

And don’t forget to watch this video…


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