The Sayhadri Adventure books by Deepak Dalal are part of the Vikram-Aditya series, often touted as the Hardy Boys duo of India.
Unlike his previous books that explored some of India's little-known terrains like Lakshadweep, Ladakh or Andaman, the Sahyadri Adventure is set in the heartland of Mumbai. Not as we know it today though, but as it was in the 19th Century! Add to this some panoramic vistas of the Sahyadri Mountains, some dare-devilry in the form of sky diving and trekking through rough land, some close shaves with snakes and thugs, some unsolved mystery and unexpected revelations, and you have an unforgettable read in these three books - The Sayhadri, Anirudh's Dream and Koleshwar's Secret.
The story begins with an exciting regatta where we are introduced to the main cast of characters - Vikram, Aditya, Chitra, and Anirudh. When on a trek through the Sahyadri Mountains, Anirudh meets with an accident and slips into a dream-like coma, where he is transported to Old Mumbai and the story of Irfan and Rustom emerges. Against the backdrop of British colonialism, we discover a Mumbai wholly different from what we are familiar with today. But through it all, what stays with you is the deep bond shared by Irfan and Rustom, ending tragically in an unfinished mystery. When Anirudh wakes up, he is left with a burning conviction that the story he witnessed was true and with the help of Vikram, Aditya and Chitra, the mystery meets a surprising finish at Koleshwar.
The narrative, in all the three books, is fairly straight-forward, following an expected linear structure. The pace, however, is uneven. The often long and wordy descriptions of either the action or the scenario leave little to the imagination. There is virtually no space for conversations, which could have given us a better understanding of the characters and made for a racier read. Perhaps, the author could have packed in a little less in terms of plot points, allowing the story and the characters to grow naturally.
Having said that, the Sahyadri Adventure is no doubt a brave attempt, giving young readers a broad canvas of thrills and the opportunity to walk around uncharted territories. The series has been nominated for the Crossword Vodafone Award in the Children's Writing category.