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Paragliding in India: A Detailed Guide on Everything You Wanted to Know

 

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    • Man’s quest for conquering the skies led him to invent airplanes, gliders and other aircraft that would let him soar into the skies and gambol among the clouds like a free bird. Of all the air-sports in practice today, paragliding in India has won much popularity. Unlike other light aviation sports, paragliding allows the flier to be one with his surroundings and integrate himself with his carrier and soar into the sky like a free bird.

      Unlike parasailing at the beach, paragliding usually does not require an engine propeller. Despite this, the flight can last for several hours and if the pilot is deft at manoeuvring, he can gain altitude up to several thousands of feet. There are different variations of paragliding tours in India such as hang gliding, powered paragliding, speed riding or speed flying and kite skiing. Hang gliding is a close relative of standard paragliding and uses a lightweight hang glider for the flight. Powered paragliding uses an engine propeller to aid the movement of the glider. Speed riding or speed flying is the sport of flying paragliders of smaller size. These gliders offer greater speed but lesser altitude.

      This sport requires minimal training and can be enjoyed by people of any age group or gender. The best part about it is that, unlike other light aviation sports, the control lies completely in the hands of the individual flying the glider. He can stop and abort the take-off any moment he wants to and hence the sport gives you total freedom. Besides, paragliding gives you a wonderful opportunity to view the landscape from a different angle and enjoy the beauty of any region like never before. Soaring into the skies, you can relish a bird’s eye view of the region below you and soak in its natural grandeur.

      If paragliding has always fascinated you and you are weighing your options of undertaking this amazing adventure, here is some information that will serve as a paragliding guide and quell all your doubts and help to strengthen your resolve:

    • About Paragliding

    • 01Why Fly?

      Flying was once man’s greatest fantasy. Almost everyone knows the story of Icarus, the Greek mythological character, who attempted to fly with artificial wings but was unfortunately unsuccessful. The story has a number of moral and political connotations, but also reflects on the innate desire of man to fly like a bird.

      With the advancement of science and technology, man has built aircraft and even rockets that enable him to soar high in the skies. However, paragliding is a different kind of experience as it allows an individual to become one with his environment and surroundings and enjoy the flight just as a free bird would.

      If you have always wondered what it would be like to fly like a bird in the sky, here’s your chance to live your fantasy. Paragliding is safe and easy and is just the right sport to indulge in if you crave for some adventure and adrenaline rush.


    • 02What is Paragliding?

      Paragliding is a recreational sport and the closest way for humans to achieve their long cherished dream of free flight. Paragliding in India is performed using a light-weight, foot-launched aircraft that has no rigid structure. The pilot is secured to this structure using a harness and a fabric wing aids the flight of the individual.

      This wing is kept in shape and in place by the network of harnesses that keeps the pilot suspended. It is the easiest form of light aviation and all the pilot needs to do is jog down a slope and take flight. There is no free-falling or jumping off cliffs in paragliding and hence it is safe even for those who have no experience of flying whatsoever.

      Usually people get confused with terms such as parasailing and hang gliding. These are not the same as paragliding but are variants. Parasailing is what you do at the beach. A person is attached to a high speed boat with a harness. The speed boat moves ahead, dragging the person behind it who is suspended in the air with the help of a parachute. Hang gliding requires a light weight, non-motorised aircraft called a hang glider.

      Paragliding is much easier than all these light aviation sports and it depends on the driver on how adventurous or safe he wants to make his experience. However, preliminary training is a must for every pilot for safe flights.

      If the idea of paragliding scares you, it is important that you understand that there is no fear of heights in the sport as there is no need for you to jump off cliffs. Furthermore, in paragliding the control is absolutely yours. Unlike other light aviation games, you can abort the launch at any moment you feel uncomfortable. In addition, the equipment is light, easy to handle and easily portable.

      Nevertheless, your safety depends completely on your dedication and sincerity in learning your flying lessons. If you learn the basics well, you can paraglide till the age of ninety. However, keeping the weather conditions in mind is advisable before you set out for a paragliding session.




    • 03What is a Paraglider?

      Image Credit : momo - flickr

      Paragliders are light-weight, foot-launched aircraft that are built on a non-rigid frame. Although these aircrafts are not fitted with a motor propeller, they can fly very long distances and gain impressive altitude, if manoeuvred in the right manner.

      Paragliders usually weigh around 12 to 15 kgs and can be easily packed into a backpack. The wing of the paraglider is made of rib stop nylon cloth and the wing of the paraglider is maintained by the flow of air across it. The wing forms the canopy and the pilot sits beneath it and is held in place by a harness. The aircraft is manoeuvred using two lines known as the brake lines, which are pulled for turning.

      Paragliders use the same principle of aerodynamics as Boeings. However, they are slower than Boeings and can be inflated even if there is very less wind. The procedure of using a paraglider is to run on a gentle slope till the paraglider lifts you off the ground.

      In case, the paraglider does not inflate completely, the launch is aborted. The best part about paragliding is that the control lies completely with the pilot. Unlike other aviation sports, the launch can be aborted any minute the pilot feels diffident or uncomfortable.


    • Paragliding Destinations in India

    • 04Manali

      One of the most popular hill stations in the country, Manali is also known for the possibilities it offers to paragliding enthusiasts. Besides the breath-taking landscape, Manali has some great slopes such as those of the Solang Valley, which facilitate a perfect take-off. You can soar into the beautiful Kullu Valley and enjoy the beauty of Manali from giddying heights.
      Paragliding in Manali

      Paragliding in Manali

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    • 05Bir Billing

      Bir Billing is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh and is one of those places where you can enjoy the paragliding in India. Bir Billing is surrounded by beautiful tea gardens and is located amidst the Dauladhar Ranges of mighty Himalayas. The village of Bir Billing is also known as the Tibetan Colony Chougan and has many beautiful Buddhist Monasteries.

      There are plethora of vendors in Bir Billing, which offer the paragliding activity. It can be short flight, medium flight or the long flight, which can vary depending up on your vendor's itinerary.

      Duration: The average duration of paragliding in Bir Billing ranges from 15 to 30 minutes

      Price: The average cost of short flight of paragliding in Bir Billing is around
      Paragliding in Bir-Billing

      Paragliding in Bir-Billing

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    • 06Kamshet

      Image Credit : karthik c - flickr
      Kamshet is yet another beautiful place to experience the paragliding in India. Located in the Pune district of Maharashtra, it is approximately 100 km from Mumbai and 50 km from Pune city.

      Apart from enjoying the paragliding activity as a customer in Kamshet, you can even learn to paraglide, as there are various vendors, who offer plethora of courses in paragliding. From the elementary paragliding course to a weeklong workshops, you can find everything in Kamshet.

      Duration: The average duration of paragliding in Kamshet is around 20 to 30 minutes
      Paragliding in Kamshet

      Paragliding in Kamshet

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    • 07Solang Valley, Manali

      Image Credit :  _Virdi_ flickr
      Solang valley in Manali is one of the most beautiful valleys in the country and offers umpteen number of adventure sports, paragliding being the most famous one. While you paraglide, you can have a mixed fun of skydiving and handgliding amidst the picturesque valley, surrounding the gigantic snow-clad Himalayas.

      Paragliding amidst the Solang Valley can be one unforgettable adrenaline filled experience for you.

      Duration: The approximate duration of flight is 20 to 30 minutes

      Price: The average cost for a short flight is Rs. 600 and for a long flight is Rs. 1500
      Paragliding in Manali

      Paragliding in Manali

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    • 08Vagamon

      Vagamon is a quaint hill station in Kerala surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery and offers various adventurous sports, paragliding being one of the most famous. Moreover, it is one of the most beautiful places where you can go for paragliding in India.

      While indulging in the paragliding activity, you get all the expert advice and safety briefing from the instructors and safety equipment. During the paragliding activity you can have the bird's eye view of the picturesque valley.

      Duration: The average duration of the flight of paragliding is 20 to 30 minutes

      Price: The approximate price for one flight of paragliding for 20 to 30 minutes is Rs. 3500 per person.
      Tandem Paragliding, Vagamon, Kerala

      Tandem Paragliding, Vagamon, Kerala

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    • 09Panchgani

      Image Credit :  aviisme - flickr
      Situated at a height of around 4500 feet above sea level, paragliding in Panchagani is one of the most loved and adventurous activities you can ever opt while visiting it. Moreover, Panchagani is extremely close to the metro cities like Pune and Mumbai, offering some of the greatest opportunities to the adventure seekers from these cities.

      The best time to go for paragliding in Panchagani is from November to February when the temperature ranges from 19 to 28 degree Celsius and the valley is so mesmerizing.

      Duration: The average duration of the flight of paragliding is 20 to 30 minutes

      Price: The approximate price for one flight of paragliding for 20 to 30 minutes is Rs. 1500 per person.
    • 10Rohtang La

      Image Credit :  njanam92 - flickr
      Located around 51 km north of Manali on the Manali-Keylong Highway at the height of 4111 m, the Rohtang La is one of the best places to experience paragliding in India. Its snow clad mountains offer a great opportunity to experience not only paragliding but also various other adventurous sports like skiing, snow boarding and many more.

      While you paraglide, you get the chance to have the birds eye view of the majestic Himalayas and the surrounding picturesque valley.

      Duration: The average duration of the flight of paragliding is 20 to 30 minutes

      Price: The approximate price for one flight of paragliding for 20 to 30 minutes is Rs. 1200 per person.
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      Snow Scooter in Rohtang Pass near Manali

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    • 11Nandi Hills

      Nandi Hills, Bangalore is situated at a distance of 68 km from Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations and has the perfect terrain for paragliding. Nandi Hills attracts a lot of adventure enthusiasts, especially those interested in light aviation.

      A lot of adventure lovers also indulge in parasailing and micro-light flying at Nandi Hills.


    • 12Kunjapuri

      Image Credit : Vvnataraj - wikicommons
      Located amidst the beautiful Shivalik ranges, the Kunjapuri is one of the most amazing destinations to experience paragliding in India. To get the best of paragliding, one must not miss the sunset or sunrise view during the paragliding activity. The total distance of paragliding in Kunjapuri is approximately 7 km, which passes through the beautiful Garhwal Himalayas and the route is so mesmerizing, giving the birds eye view of the picturesque valley.

      Duration: The average duration of the flight of paragliding is 20 to 30 minutes and the distance is approximately 5-7 km

      Price: The approximate price for one flight of paragliding for 20 to 30 minutes is Rs. 1200 per person.
    • 13Pawana

      Pawana is a dreamy location situated in Kamshet, Maharashtra. The take-off site overlooks the River Indrayani. As you take flight, you glide over the beautiful River Pavana and float into the horizon. Paragliding is the best way to enjoy the sunset and sunrise in Pavana.
    • 14Bedni Bugyal

      Image Credit : Travelling Slacker- flickr
      The lush green valley and the magnificent mountain peaks are a treat to the eyes. Skilled gliders are also available at Bedni Bugyal. There are also several institutes in Bedni Bugyal that offer professional training courses for paragliding in India.
    • How do I get Started?

    • 15How do I get Started?

      If you have your mind set on the activity, get yourself enrolled at an institute that offers courses in paragliding in India. You can enroll for a four-day elementary pilot course that will teach you the basics of paragliding and also give you about ten supervised solo flights. On completing the elementary course, you can take the Club Pilot course where you will learn about the advanced techniques of flying and longer flight durations.

      In case you do not have so much time to invest in the courses, there are also tailor-made courses that are available. These courses allow you to pick up tricks and techniques in two or three day workshops. You will be given ground training and information on low level flying in these workshops. In some institutes, you may also be given an opportunity to undertake a solo flight during these workshops.

      In case it is paramotoring you are looking for, you will require ten days of training before you take a solo flight. There are no examinations and the course and instructions are very easy to follow. During the course you will be taught the basics such as ground handling of the wing, gliding without a motor fitted wing, and the final lesson will be about flying a motored wing. If you have experience of paragliding and want to try paramotoring, you will require only two days of training.

      You may want to purchase your own equipment and gear, but it is important that you first learn the basics of paragliding. It is essential for every pilot to master the basic techniques of paragliding such as launching, turning and landing before setting out on a solo flight. So, if you are keen on taking up paragliding, get in touch with a flying institute that can train you in the nuances of paragliding.


    • 16Is Paragliding for me?

      Image Credit : Tobias - flickr

      Paragliding is quite easy and anyone can learn how to paraglide with a little effort and perseverance. Learning how to paraglide requires just as much effort and concentration as is required in learning how to drive or cycle. Men and women of reasonable a fitness level can learn paragliding without much problem.

      There are several reputed institutions that offer courses for paragliding in India. Though fitness is not a major requirement for those aspiring to learn paragliding, it is advisable to be reasonably fit to fly without discomfort. Learners will be required to run uphill or downhill before taking flight.


    • 17Is there a Season for Paragliding?

      Weather plays an important role in enhancing the enjoyment level of paragliding. Paragliding sessions are held all year round in destinations such as Solang Bijli Mahadev, Marhi and Fatru. This is because the climate in Kullu and Manali is conducive to paragliding. When the weather is perfect, a person can stay up in the air for as long as three hours. This is why paragliding in India is so enjoyable and attracts so enthusiasts throughout the year.

      The best season for paragliding is from February to June, and then again from September to November. Although paragliding is an all-season sport, it is advisable that it be avoided during the monsoons.


    • 18What about Courses in Paragliding?

      Image Credit : Tambako The Jaguar - flickr

      For paragliding in India, there are several institutions that offer short term courses. You can enroll for a preliminary course and learn about launching, turning and landing. Most instructors allow you to take flight during the first day of learning, which is the greatest advantage of this sport. You will be taught the nuances of handling the wing on the ground, the technique of taking flight and other relevant details, and then after a few supervised solo flights, you will be given the opportunity to fly solo independently.

      Once you have completed the preliminary course, you can enroll for the advanced pilot course which will educate you about the advanced techniques of paragliding. The advantage of taking a course in paragliding is that you can later enroll for the paramotoring course and enjoy the advanced level of this sport.

      However, before selecting the institution, it is important that you keep a few points in mind. Ensure that the institution has a valid certification and also check the rating of the certification. The highest level of certification is the 'Advanced Tandem Instructor'.

      Also, check what the instructor to student ratio is. Also look out if the training flights are radio supervised. Do consider points such as the safety ratio of the school, how many students have received certification, and the schedule of operation of the school.


    • 19Safety Aspects to be Kept in Mind

      Image Credit : texaus1 - flickr
      Paragliding basically requires a good sense of judgement to harmonise the forces of nature. All sports have an element of risk, be it swimming or cycling, and it is the sincerity of the learner and the judgement ability of the student.

      The most important points to keep in mind during the training session in order to ensure safety are to obey all instructions with all sincerity, gain pilot attitude and use safe equipment and helmets. Although most institutions use the best of equipment for training purposes, make sure you get your equipment checked before taking flight.

      In case you are using your own equipment, make sure to keep it in the best condition. Check the wing and replace it before it becomes dangerously non-functional. The harness and reserve of the paraglider can last you a lifetime if you take proper care.

      The most advantageous aspect of paragliding is that the pilot has full control over the launch action. This increases the safety aspect of the sport. At any point of time the pilot can abort launch if he feels uncomfortable or any kind of technical snag in the equipment.


    • 20What Equipment is Needed for Paragliding?

      Paragliding equipment comprises a parachute-like wing, harness, reserve and radios. Usually, the training institutes provide all the equipment you will require for the sport. However, if you intend to buy one for yourself, look for good quality equipment.

      The cost of the entire equipment -- paraglider, reserve and harness will cost somewhere between Rs 80,000 to 1,25,000 for paragliding in India. The harness and reserve will last you indefinitely if you take good care of it. However, the wing may need replacement after a period of four years. This is because UV radiation and aging of the material can reduce the lifespan of the wing.

      These days, paragliders also buy a variometer and a two way radio in order to enhance their flying experience. The variometer tells you how much altitude you have gained at what speed. All this equipment is available at a combined price of Rs 15,000. You can also find second hand paragliders on sale for reasonable prices but the life span of such items will obviously be shorter.

      We hope this guide to paragliding in India has provided you enough information to allay your fears and motivate you to take up paragliding!