Meet Deepak Dalal and allow him to take you on a tour of the Sahyadri mountains and Bombay in the mid 19th century.
If you are one of those who loves to travel and also to read, you must have read the novels by Deepak Dalal.
From his first book, Lakshadweep Adventure, (1997), Dalal has taken his readers to a different part of India with every story — a wildlife sanctuary in Ranthambore Adventure; the snow-capped heights of Ladakh in Ladakh Adventure and its sequel, Snow Leopard Adventure; and to the heart of a tribal way of life in Andaman Adventure.
As the names suggest, at the heart of each story is an intriguing adventure surrounding two teenagers, Vikram and Aditya. Hence, the series is also called the Vikramaditya Series.
In May, Dalal will come out with his next story after seven years. It is called Sahyadri Adventure and is set in the Sahyadri mountain range in Maharashtra. The first book is called Anirudh's Dream, while the second is Koleshwar's Secret.
A good part of the story is set in Bombay also. However, this is not the city of today — but the Bombay of the 1850s when the sea was clean and dotted with fluttering white sails of ships. In the southern part of this city, there was a massive fort of which no trace remains today.
I met Dalal in his quiet workplace attached to his bungalow on the outskirts of Pune. Busy proof-reading the final draft of the book, he says, “This is my first historical book. In 2005, I started researching for it and read 30-odd books in the Mumbai University library to know what life in the 1850s' Bombay was like.”
During a trek across the Sahyadri range, a bunch of goons start chasing Vikram, Aditya and their friend Anirudh, who meets with an accident and slips into coma.
He has a dream in which he transforms into Irfan, a boy who lived in Bombay in the 1850s and met with a tragic death. The dream provides him vital clues about why the goons were chasing him.
Waking up from his dream Anirudh and his friends must get to the bottom of the mystery.
Dalal says that his objective in writing stories for children is singular. “The kids of today grow up in cities,” he says. “I myself grew up with a love for the wilderness. Through my books, I want to get kids out of their homes and make them want to explore India. I hope to sensitise them on issues of wildlife, the environment and their preservation so that when they grow up and are in positions of power, they will take the right decisions to conserve the beauty of our country.”
Sahyadri Adventure is slated for release by the end of April. Anirudh's Dream and Koleshwar's Secret are priced at Rs. 175 each.