India is a land of infinite possibilities. And by infinite I literally mean infinite! There are some ways in which you can be flying like a bird like soaring away in a hot air balloon or parasailing, in which you are tied at the rear end of a boat using a rope or something, and then there is the ultimate feeling-like-a-bird sport which is paragliding. Paragliding may well be referred to as the ultimate bird feeling. As a basic overview, the pilot is supposed to sit in a harness which is suspended from a wing-like structure and then you have just got to run off a cliff and viola! You are up in the air like an actual bird. Interesting much?! Or thinking that it is for the mad adrenaline junkies or the suicidal maniacs. To tell the truth, it is none of those things. People now are becoming aware of the fact that the rides are pretty safe and that there are other fail-safe options. If you manage to follow the rules and regulations of paragliding, then there are absolutely no chances of failing. So take a chill pill and understand the fact that you can manage to take care of the fun factor and the adventure streak of yours while being safe.
Let us explore the most amazing places for paragliding in India:
Set in the backdrop of the beautiful Himachal Pradesh, the little village of Bir is practically the Paragliding Capital of India. The beautiful mountains, the greenery, the weather, everything is just so perfect. And paragliding adds a dash of adventure to the tranquil atmosphere. It is a perfect place for adventure junkies as well as country lovers. Bir is the take-off site and Billing, which is located at a distance of about 14 km from it, is the landing site. The nearest airport is Dharamshala, located at a distance of about 70 km from Bir. The Paragliding world cup took place for the first time in India at Bir-Billing in the year 2015. The place is equally famous for its amazing paragliding experiences both inside the country as well as with the foreigners. The place has one of the best take off and landing sites combined with the suitable air currents plus the ideal cloud base.
How to reach From Delhi to Bir via buses (Volvo or Tata) or flights to the nearest airport at Dharamshala Best Time to Visit The best time to visit is between October and mid-June when there is no rains and weather is pleasant. Popular Operators Camp Oak View, Friends adventures, and tours, Blue Umbrella Approximate Cost INR 3500- INR 5500 (approx)
One of the major tourist attractions of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is a beautiful valley located in the heart of the Himalayas. The town is located at an altitude of about 5500 ft to 6000 ft above the sea level which makes it ideal for paragliding trips. The scenic beauty is further aggravated by the thrill factor of paragliding in the area. The areas of Solang Valley, Fatru Mountain, Gulaba, and Nagger Road are the places where paragliding takes place. Apart from the monsoon season, during which paragliding is banned, one can practically enjoy the feel of the air from up above practically for the rest of the year. It is an ideal getaway for someone who loves adventure as much as the beautiful locales.
How to reach you can go there by air, the nearest airport being at Bhuntar, a mere 50 km away or you can go there via buses which run periodically; then there is the option of a train. Or if you are a little too adventure minded, you can go on a bike ride. Best Time to Visit Between October and May. And as told earlier, paragliding is banned during monsoons. Popular Operators Ski Himalayas, TigerEye Adventures, Himalayan Extreme Centre Approximate Cost Starting from INR 1800 and above
This is again a beautiful resort town located in the foothills of the Himalayas. Located at the height of about 2000m above the sea level, the picturesque place is one of the best places to go to. And paragliding in such a place has its perks too. One can view the beautiful city from a bird's level. The beautiful pear-shaped Lake, Naini lake, one of the 64 Shakti peeths of the country, is considered to be one of the holiest places in the world. Paragliding is offered at Naukuchiyatal. Paragliding among the fluffy clouds amidst the beautiful mountains of Naina, Deopatha and Ayarpatha hills is truly one of the heavenly feelings. So come here if you want to have best of both worlds.
How to reach You can go there via bus (Nainital has excellent bus connectivity) or train, the nearest railway station being at a distance of 34 km at Kathgodam, or book a chartered plane to the nearest airport at Pantnagar, situated at a distance of about 65km from Nainital (no commercial flights here). Best Time to Visit All seasons except rainy seasons. (i.e. July- August) Popular Operators Pathikworld Tours, Skybird Adventures Approximate Costs INR 1500- INR 5000 (approx)
The district of Pithoragarh, Kumaon's easternmost district is one of the many natural beauties of the state of Uttarakhand. The valley, wedged between Nepal and Tibet, is flanked by four hills- Dhwaj, Chandak, Thal Kedar, and Kundar. Being flanked by the hills gives an amazing view of the place, both dramatic and soothing. The unique conditions give ample scope of conducting adventure sports like paragliding, hand gliding, trekking, river rafting, canoeing, etc. One can enjoy the beautiful locales and get high on adventure, Pithoragarh has it all! How to reach By buses or trains, there are also some gas stations in the middle. Best Time to Visit March to June and September to mid-October are the best months to visit, due to the clear weather and sunny outdoors. Popular Operators Uttarakhand tourism organises various paragliding courses. Approximate Cost INR 6000- INR 10000 (for 5-7 day course) (approx).
A famous hill station located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Panchgani is one of the best weekend getaways one could probably ever think of. With an altitude of about 1200 m above the sea level, the fantastic hill station opens doors for some adventure sports, paragliding being one of the favourites of the tourists who frequent the area. The weather is pleasant throughout the year which adds to its glory. It is also fascinating to know that the plateau region of the hills surrounding Panchgani is the second largest in Asia after the Tibetan plateau. Due to various favourable conditions like clear skies, perfect altitude, favourable winds, pleasant weather all the year round, Panchgani has become one of the hotspots of paragliding industry. Bhilar, Tapola and Khingar are some of the popular paragliding sites in Panchgani. How to Reach Panchgani is well connected by rail, road, and airways. The nearest railway station is at Pune which is about 96km away, after that you can hire a taxi t reach Panchgani. Pune also has an airport. Best Time to Visit November to February because the weather is most pleasant during that time. Popular Operators Ravine Hotel, Eco Camps Approximate Cost INR 1500 onwards (approx)
One of the best locations for paragliding, especially for beginners due to the amazingly calm and clear atmosphere, Ranikhet sure has a lot to offer. The campsite for paragliding is located nearly 12 km away from the main town, on the road to Goluchina area. The place is simply wonderful, with the safe paragliding camps and amazing locales. The paragliding camp, locally known as Daan Kurhi, is located at a beautiful site at the edge of an oak forest. Ranikhet is known to be one of the safest sites for paragliding. How to Reach The nearest railway station is 101 km away at Kathgodam, and the place is also easily accessible from Delhi Best Time to Visit September to March Popular Operators Wild rift adventures Approximate Cost INR 3000 onwards
Located at a distance of about 45 km from the populous city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, this beautiful retreat is a jerk into the past, the place reminds of a rustic setting, the real India, lost in the din of city life. The place is well suited for paragliding again due to the favourable weather conditions, amazing view and perfect wind conditions. It is well suited for beginners, in addition to being connected to the Pune- Mumbai expressway; this place is great for a weekend getaway. How to Reach By air, rail or road. Being near to both Pune and Mumbai, there is absolutely no problem at all in terms of connectivity. Best Time to Visit From October to June Popular Operators Indus Paragliding School, Paragliding Mantra Approximate Costs INR 2500 (approx) for tandem flights and above.
Situated at an average altitude of 1400 m, Shillong or Scotland of the East is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of the North East. And to add to its already exciting locations and scintillating greenery all around, one can now go for paragliding too. The paragliding market is slowly but surely evolving in the cute little town, attracting travel and adventure enthusiasts equally. There are provisions of hydraulic payout winch system, which are connected by means of radio where the pilots are guided by flight supervisors. The heights of up to 700m can be achieved.
How to Reach Shillong is well connected by roads; other means of transport are not as reliable. Best Time to Visit Summers, when the skies are clear and the winds are just fine. Popular Operators Yatra Approximate Costs
A famous tourist destination, the city is located in the small North Eastern state of Sikkim. The city holds a lot to show and paragliding is surely one of the major attractions for adventure seekers. The place has amazing landing ridges and is surely growing to be one of the major attractions of the state. How to Reach By air, rail or self-drive. The nearest airport is at a distance of about 124 km at Bagdogra and the nearest railway station is at New Jalpaiguri. Best Time to Visit Summers Popular Operators Fly Sikkim Adventures Approximate Cost INR 1800 onwards
A beautiful paragliding spot in the state of Jammu, Sanasar sure has a lot to offer. Flying like a bird, with the snow-capped Himalayas surrounding you, the feel is certainly heavenly. Located at a distance of about 19 km from Patnitop, surrounded by conifers, it is one of the most beautiful locales for paragliding. How to Reach By air, Jammu is the nearest airport, located about 120 km away. Best Time to Visit Summers, because winters are very cold Popular Operators J & K Tourism Approximate Cost INR 1600 onwards
Located at a small distance from Bangalore, the beautiful hill station is surely a treat to the eye. Paragliding in this area is particularly famous, one of the must do things while being in the area. The place is located at a height of about 1400 m above the sea level and has a lot of flat surfaces around hills for landing.
How to Reach The nearest airport is at Bangalore, located at a distance of about 68 km from Nandi Hills; from there you can take a bus to reach the hills. Best Time to Visit All the year round except in the months of July- September, when monsoons arrive. Popular Operators Karnataka State Tourism Development Center Approximate Cost Starting from 1500 INR (approx)
Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, the beautiful hill station is a dream for adventure enthusiasts. Temperatures ranging from 10- 23 degree Celsius on summer midday, this place is ideal for paragliding. Trained pilots are available which means tandem flights are possible. How to Reach The nearest airport is at Cochin, 75 km from Vagamon. The nearest railway station is at Kottayam, about 100 km from the hill station. The place is also well connected by road. Best Time to Visit October to March; when the monsoons are over. Popular Operator Paragliding Kerala Approximate Cost INR 3500 (approx)
One of the famous beach areas of Goa, Arambol is also famous for the paragliding experiences that the place has to offer. The best launching point is the headland above the Kalacha Lake. Arambol is perfect for beginners, the reason being the smooth and calm breeze which is perfect for a no-break flight. How to Reach Arambol is a two-hour drive from the Dabolim airport. Best Time to Visit October to June Popular Operators GOA Extreme, Xtacee Paragliding Club Approximate Cost Tandem flights starting from INR 2000 (approx)
Located about 3 hours away from the capital city of Chennai, the hill station of Yelagiri is a boon for travellers and adventure seekers. The hill station also has a paragliding club which lends various paragliding equipment and also provides various tandem flights. The beautiful green grass of the hill station and the altitude of about 2000 m is perfect for an amazing paragliding experience. How to Reach By railways, the nearest railway station is at a distance of about 21 km from it at Jolarpettai. The station is well connected to all the major cities. Best Time to Visit September to February Popular Operators Yelagiri Marigold Ridge Approximate Costs Tandem flights starting from INR 2000 (approx)
These are some of the most popular spots all around the country, and if you are an adventure seeker you can definitely go visit them, and even if you are not, you can always overcome them.
Located around 60 km (2 hours) away from Mussoorie is Lakhamandal on the Yamunotri Road and take off point is 20km from there. How to Reach By railways, the nearest railway station is Dehradun which is at a distance 33km. Best Time to Visit September to June (Except monsoon) Popular Operators Sky Riders Adventure Approximate Cost Tandem flights starting from INR 1600 (approx) and goes up to INR 10000 for long flights
15. Kunjapuri, Uttarakhand
Kunjapuri is one of the most desired locations for paragliding enthusiasts. Located in the holy city of Rishikesh on the banks of the sacred river Ganges. Kunjapuri is erected by nature at the peak of the Shivalik range. Once airborne you are feasting your eyes on the Banderpunch, Sawrga Rohini, Chaukhamba and Gangotri peaks. If mountaineering humbles you gliding in the air at par with the Himalayas will make you feel surreal. Relish as you see the sun going beneath the mountains after a hard day's work casting a luminous glow over the landscape.
How to Reach You can reach this destination by air. The nearest airport being the Dehradun Airport situated 15 km away from the location. If you are using the rails, the nearest railway station is at Rishikesh, or you could grab a ride from the many buses or taxis that ply routinely. Best Time to Visit Any time except during monsoon. The region has a pleasant climate and favourable winds. Popular Operator Paragliding Earth Approximate Cost INR 3500 onwards
16. Pawna, Maharashtra
Ever felt like growing a pair of wings and taking off to the sky and let bygones be bygones. The chance awaits at Pawna, a paragliding hotspot in south India tucked in nature precisely at Kamshet 110 kms from Mumbai and 45 kms away from Pune. This adventure sport caters to a larger group of adventure junkies as it is one of the prime locations in the state of Maharashtra. As you take to the air, the valley of Sahyadari unveils itself for a visual treat. The gleaming valley below you and the small villages starts to look as low as it is ancient with the glares of the sun reflecting on your face from the bright and pristine waters of the Indrayani and Pawani river. All that is required is to saddle yourselves and unwind to nature as the accomplished pilot pulls the reins and do all the hard work. You also stand a chance to gain tips from experienced pilots. How to Reach Pawna lake lies in between the Pune - Mumbai express highway. You can come down to this paragliding hotspot by flying down to either Pune or Mumbai and avail the trains to Lonavala railway station and hitch a ride from there to the lake which is a mere twenty kilometres away. Might we suggest a good old fashioned bike ride which could be an even more pleasing prospect? Best Time to Visit The best time to visit the lake would be a time which would offer a pleasant climate and a picturesque view of the lake at its best. The optimal time to visit the lake would be from November to December. Popular Operators Temple Pilots and Indian Outdoors. Approximate Cost INR 4000 to 5500 approximately.
17. Bedini Bugyal, Uttarakhand
The vast expanse of the sky has always been a ludicrous tale of curiosity for all of humanity. The interest has rocketed us to explore the heavens. Travelling on a flight gives us only but a bird's eye view of the air before we are taken up to the clouds. The search for exploring the skies ends at the sport of paragliding. In India paragliding enjoys a vast potential due to its diverse topography. Uttarakhand has always been frequented by tourists and Bedni Bugyal in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state is a sweet spot for adventure junkies. This aero sport in Bedini Bugyal is ideal as it takes you over the grasslands, snow-capped mountain peaks and the hilltop ranges of Bedni Bugyal. The view of alpine covered Himalayan meadows is another blessing for the eyes at 3.354m above sea level. Enjoy the tranquillity and peace that steals over you never like before and don't forget to pose for a selfie from with the beautiful landscape in the background. You also have the option for a weekend-long getaway as the place is a plethora of activities and adventure sports and tourist attractions
How to Reach Uttarakhand has its only airport located in in the state capital of Dehradun. There are private tour buses and cabs which will drop you down at the location. The Indian rail network well connects Uttarakhand. The nearest stations are Dehradun, Haridwar and Kathgodam. Best Time to Visit The best time to visit Bedni Bugyal is from September to May, and it is seasonal since snow covers the region and the mountains which pose a threat to paragliders. Approximate Cost A visual treat from the air will roughly cost you INR 2000 - 3000.
Satpura in Gujarat is an upcoming paragliding destination in India located in the state of Gujarat. Satpura has recently started to become a growing blip in for those who have a sweet tooth for adventure sports to those who love the feel of adrenaline pumping through their bodies. The paragliding festival held annually brings together a group of aero sports enthusiasts and children. Take off to the sky from the lofty heights of the Pavagadh hill in the district of Panchmahal like the mythical character Icarus and have no fear of flying too close to the sun as you take your journey with an experienced and professional instructor. Below you the historical city of Champaner rolls out to meet you. History states that the hill was once the location of an active volcano. 500 million years ago there was a volcanic explosion. Currently, the area has been termed dead and dusted though if a freak of a nature activity occurs your glider is your best and last resort which will carry with the winds for kilometres without the need of an engine. Once airborne; dense forests come up to meet you along with reddish-orange rhyolite boulders, and a natural cave located just below the summit all the while enjoying the strong monsoon winds fiddling with your air filling you with a heightened sense of euphoria. The place is also home to the country's highest monocable ropeway. How to Reach The nearest city is Vadodara, and it is well connected with a fully fledged road network to all major cities in India also with an airport and railway station. Vadodara is just an hour from the city. Best Time to Visit The best place to visit Satpura would be between December and January which will be when the twenty-six day of paragliding festival conducted. Popular Operator Satpura adventure sports club Approximate Cost INR 3000 - 5000 approximate
Do's and don'ts While Paragliding
There are certain things to keep in mind while paragliding. One must know that the rules and regulations that are set out are absolutely necessary to be carried out. One cannot just take risks while being up there. There needs to be some kind of preparation because one cannot fight nature. So we have made a checklist of the things that you will need and the things that you should steer clear from to stay safe. But rest assured, it is one of the safest airborne adventures that one can think of.
So let's have a closer look, shall we?
Be mentally prepared. (Don't start freaking out once you are up there, stay calm)
Check the weather conditions before going out for paragliding, as a clear weather is extremely necessary for paragliding.
An empty stomach is required before and after.
Wear a helmet.
Check the safety equipment like the reserve parachute and harness.
Make sure that there are no ground obstacles while landing. (Like power lines etc.)
Make sure that the pilot/instructor is properly trained.
Check for the weather conditions. A gusty wind, strong thermals, and air turbulence are some of the weather conditions that is surely not required.
Wear the clothes that you are comfortable in and are light, maybe socks and trainers to go with them.
Check your insurance, making sure that it covers all your expenses before and after. (It is always good to be a little prepared, isn't it?)
Make sure that your camera battery is charged. (Wouldn't hurt to click a few pictures of your big fly day, would it?)
Carry a 'fit to fly' certificate from your physician.
Enjoy and take in the whole thing as a life-changing experience.
Fly when the wind is too strong.
Fly when it is raining. (It's insane, isn't it?)
Forget to fasten your leg straps.
Panic. (Trust me when I say this, it is not worth it!)
Take children below the age of 18, they are not allowed.
Exceed the weight limit. (120 kg is generally the case.)
Here is some additional info about the Paragliding World Cup which was held for the first time in India.
Paragliding World Cup in Bir Billing (2015)
A small village in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, Bir is a very beautiful place, consisting of many Tibetan monasteries, stupas and yes, more famously, its paragliding sites. Bir Billing is something that you might have been used to hearing, it is probably because Billing is the takeoff site for paragliding and Bir is the landing site, that they are often named together. The take-off site is at an altitude of about 2325 meters and the landing site is at an altitude of about 1360 meters, the place is known as the 'Paragliding capital of India'. One of the favourites among the paragliders all over the world, let alone India, this place is always flocked with tourists and adventure seekers. Perhaps it is this popularity which led it to be chosen as the venue for the Paragliding World Cup held in the year 2015. The championship was held between the 23rd of October and continued till the 30th of October. Oh! What a pleasant view it was, to see hundreds of paragliders, trooping across the sky like giant hawks, each of them eager to reach the destination. The one of its kind event saw about 130 participants from 35 different countries gathered in the picturesque village of Bir- Billing. An aero sports event of a level like this was the first time that happened in India and is sure to encourage more and more people to sit up and take notice of the sports which are not cricket. This is just the beginning.
The country of India provides a lot of amazing scope to paragliding lovers. There are many places in the country where paragliding is taught as an adventure sport either as an expert (solo ride) or as some tourist attraction (tandem ride- with a pilot). But for once, you must let go of the fear that has been building in your heart for years and paragliding is all about facing your fears and overcoming them!