Photo essay: exploring Mumbai’s rivers on kayaks

Kayakers in Mumbai find that water sports go hand in hand with preservation of our environment.

A short trip to a small island off Tarkarli in Sindhudurg District along coastal Maharashtra a few years ago introduced me to the sport of Kayaking. This first experience led me to explore how I could continue with the sport in Mumbai itself. The Walduni canal, not far from my home in Ulhasnagar would have been very convenient, but it is too polluted to be safe for kayaking. So my eyes were set on the Ulhas river, further down.

A fisherman at work on the Ulhas river (Photo: Deepak Malani)
(Photo: Deepak Malani)

Two years ago I got an inflatable kayak, and soon picked up the basics of water safety through interacting with a friend Pradip Patade who is also a marine ecology enthusiast. I started paddling in the Ulhas river and its tributaries, Barvi and Bhatsa, with the guidance of a few fishermen who rely on these waters for their livelihood. Currently, most of the kayaking I do happens on the gentle flowing and relatively cleaner waters of the Bhatsa.

Inflatable kayak (Photo: Deepak Malani)

The Bhatsa river emerges from the Bhatsa Dam, one of three major reservoirs that supply domestic water to Mumbai (the others being Tansa and Vaitarna). The river itself is estimated to be about 40 km long, meandering through several villages. Kayaking on a river is relatively permission-free, but people need to be sensitive and refrain from interfering with the local activities of the villagers, like their washing of clothes, scrubbing of livestock, and so on.

(Photo: Deepak Malani)
(Photo: Deepak Malani)

While water-sports clubs along the Mumbai seafront have not reopened since the lockdown, river kayaking is quite accessible through the year. The kayaking activity base is set in Vasind, 75 km from Mumbai, off the Mumbai-Nashik Highway.

I am now leading an initiative to enable Mumbaikars to explore rivers by paddling in waters with watercrafts, with support from sports leaders of a Decathlon store in Thane. Incidentally, this store is one of the few in Mumbai that offers an affordable range of recreational kayaks.

Over the last two months, we have enabled close to a hundred Mumbaikars (including those as young as 8-11 years old) to experience kayaking for the first-time. We aim to have a thousand Mumbaikars experience the river waters with us, in the coming year.

(Photo: Deepak Malani)

The river ecology is diverse. We’ve seen a variety of species of birds, insects (butterflies, dragonflies, etc.) reptiles, fish and other creatures around the river belt.

Red-wattled Lapwing (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Little Grebes (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Common Sailor butterfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Common Pierrot butterfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Gram Blue butterfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Common Clubtail dragonfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Blue Dasher dragonfly (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Striped-leg grasshopper (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Bee/Hornet pollinator (Photo: Pradip Patade)
River crab (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Eel fish (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Slender rasbora fish (Photo: Pradip Patade)
Long-legged cricket frog (Photo: Pradip Patade)

Every trip, we spot something new. And every trip we feel more committed to the preservation of the ecosystem along the river, and reversal of the degradation that we observe.

Also read:

Comments:

  1. Sudesh Pansare says:

    Great initiative

  2. Vipin Gemini says:

    Amazing initiative Deepak.
    Getting connected to nature and helping people to get connected without creating any pollution in water resources, hats off to you for this. Thanks for creating such opportunities.

  3. Madhukar Dhuri says:

    are there any kayaking sessions this weekend 20/21 april 2024?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Mumbaikars get a taste of Murbad’s forest food and tribal culture

It was a treat for city dwellers to learn about wild vegetables and other forest foods harvested by tribal communities of Murbad, near Mumbai.

Throughout the year, vegetable shops and markets are stocked with select vegetables and produce that form our diets. This produce is grown in large scale farms and sold across the country despite geographic and seasonal variations. But 23rd June was an aberration for some of us, who spent time at the Hirvya Devachi Yatra. We got in touch with forest foods that grow in the wild, people who harvest them and make delicacies out of these.  The Hirvya Devachi Yatra was organised this year by the Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, Van Niketan, Ashwamedh Pratisthan and INTACH Thane Chapter. It has been…

Similar Story

, ,

Raise a toast to these changemakers trying to protect urban environment

Recounting the stories of environmental changemakers we feted through the month of June, to mark the observance of World Environment Day.

Through the month of June, we had a sort of extended celebration of World Environment Day (June 5th) by highlighting organisations and collectives that are actively trying to make a change. In case you missed their stories on our social media channels, here's another hat tip to these changemakers, who are fighting to protect natural spaces and ensuring environmental justice in our increasingly chaotic, expanding cities. Nizhal, Chennai We start off in Chennai with Nizhal. Nizhal, which means shade in Tamil, is a non-profit organisation that promotes urban greening with a focus on indigenous tree species and biodiversity regeneration. The…