FUN UNDER ONE TENT
Words: ROSHAN SAM
Photographs: SUPRIYA KANTAK
GREAT FROM Mumbai, Pune
GREAT FOR A quick getaway with friends
Sitting under the stars listening to an acoustic band, followed by a bonfire, sounds almost gimmicky. But when you spend a weekend at Bandcamp, and watch the performers effortlessly go from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Leonard Cohen to their own compositions, you find your guard dropping. Organised by White Collar Hippie, a travel company, Bandcamp manages to get this and every other element of the experience right.
The campsite is located atop a hillock in Uttan, a quick drive from Mumbai. This means that the air is fresh, and the sea views unobstructed. The tents are clean, and each accommodates two sleeping bags. The campsite itself is shaded by trees and thoughtfully laid out, with ample room around each tent. The thoughtfulness is evident in other ways too – like the communal shower area, which is covered with smooth stones. This lets the water seep through, and keeps your feet from getting muddy. Each visitor gets a welcome pouch that contains a mosquito repellent and a small torch, among other things – minor treats if you enjoy collecting toiletries from hotel rooms.
Once you’ve settled in, you can go ahead and explore the fishing village that surrounds it. Walk down to the end of Uttan Pali Road, past St Andrew’s church, and take the steps down to the jetty. From here, you see the Vasai Creek widening and spilling into the ocean, and the mangroved fringes of Virar. The boat repair yard on the other side of the village is also worth a visit. Get up close to large fishing boats in various stages of completion, and marvel at their subtle craftsmanship and the outlandish paintings that decorate the hulls. You can even join the fishermen when they go out to sea at first light.
The camp also organises a sunset walk in the evening. You’ll first be taken to the highest point on the hill. From there, you’ll make your way down, onto an ample slice of rocky shore. Once you bid farewell to the sun, make your way back to the camp.
By sundown, the campsite takes on a new persona. Soft, zero-watt lanterns and the chatter of the campers bring the place to life. Use this time to get to know your neighbours for the night, or the affable staff and volunteers. You’re free to carry your own alcoholic beverages, and pair them with the chicken, paneer and mushrooms that come fresh off the grill. There’s dinner later too, which comprises tasty Indian dishes homecooked by a local family. Later in the evening, the two musicians, armed with quick wit and guitars, take the stage. They play off the crowd, letting you be part of the fun. You can request songs, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, join them. The singing can go on well into the night. A bonfire is eventually lit, by which you can keep yourself and the marshmallows warm.
The next morning at sunrise, if you can wake up by then, attempt the nature walk that rambles through the woods behind the campsite. Basking in the filtered sunlight, with the chirps of drongos and starlings all around, makes it worth the effort. You could also go for a swim at U-tan Sea Resort next door. But chances are you’ll end up spending the rest of the day playing Jenga, and making small talk with the staff and volunteers. Or you’ll end up lazing about in a hammock, putting off your drive back to civilisation.