Flying high means different things to different people. The literal act of flying, though, is an art perfected through the ages — from Icarus’ misadventures to being airlifted across continents in a brushed aluminium aeroplane.
For a growing number of millennials in India, paragliding is a thrilling proposition to independently sail on thin air.
One of India’s best paragliding sites is in Kamshet — a mere 110 kms away from Mumbai. This is where I earned my flying stripes through Nirvana Adventures, a reputed paragliding school and meeting point for pilots from around the world.
Lessons began soon after arriving at The Native Place, the school’s pretty homestay. In the late afternoon, we were whisked away to a flat training ground called Ashram (because it’s the construction site of a proposed but never completed ashram) for ground handling sessions.
Each of us was provided with a glider proportionate to our body weight and patiently instructed about its components (canopy, harness and controls) and how they worked together.
One gets a clear understanding of the physics of flying along with building strength to launch forward by pulling the glider behind you. It’s exhausting, but this session helped us realise what the next day had in store.
Although tandem rides take you up in the air, paragliding’s real thrill lies in flying solo — at least for a short duration.
Day 2 was reserved for low-level flights, also known as Bunny Hops, from Shinde Hill. Forward-launching from a height of 120 feet suited for amateurs, I had my first taste of free flight.
For those few beautiful moments, the glider became part of my anatomy. The slightest tug at the lines could lend direction, control speed, and provide lift to the canopy that expertly picked each strand of wind.
The experience was akin to being a modern-day Icarus, minus the sunburn — twice as fun and addictive as hell!
What Else Should I Know?
If you sign up for a course, don’t expect to be a casual tourist. You will be treated as a student, and experienced instructors rigorously encourage you to learn flying and land safely.
All flying packages include accommodation and delicious food prepared using ingredients sourced from farms in Kamshet.
Paragliding relies on the location, weather, and wind conditions at any flying site. Kamshet’s unique position in the Sahyadris makes it ideal for this sport. The flying sites here are safe and time-tested, offering low-altitude slopes for beginners as well as lofty peak points for experienced pilots.
Barring the monsoon (June to October), it is paragliding season through the year at Nirvana.
Even if you are not a paragliding enthusiast, The Native Place is an equally comfortable host where you can put your boots up and enjoy its lakeside location over an idyllic weekend. A perfect way to enjoy the best of both worlds if you’re a couple but only one of you is interested in flying!
Image Credit: Nirvana Paragliding Club