Paragliding and the art of Flying like an Eagle!

Now, Its been four months that I haven’t blogged, which is a shameful thing for someone who is a writer. But sometimes the journey is so exhilarating that words fall short. Infact life has changed 360 degrees, more on that later.

Coming to the part where I left off, I went to Mcleodganj in October and one of the most important part of my trip was to jump off from the mountain which is popularly called Paragliding.

A lot of places in India offer tandem paragliding, which basically means a professional will take you for a whirl, but there are long courses too but nothing can come close to jumping from Bir Billing Valley.

Its a feeling, its an emotion that one has to feel when they are right up in the mountain. While I was at The Bunker at Upper Dharamkot people who were coming back from Billing had varied stories to narrate. As the season was just about starting, due to rough weather only a few were able to fly and rest were coming back with disappointment and hence I was very clear that I wanted to take the first jump which starts at 7.30 am!

So there I was packing my bag to go to Bir and thanks to Ishan ( he owns The Bunker) who found fellow travellers to Zostel Bir I managed to cut my costs and happily shared a cab to the hostel.

Bir is a quaint town living in its own world with a huge Tibetian settlement and monastery around. After crossing the tea plantations of Palampur we reached Bir after sunset and couldn’t believe our eyes, for none of us had ever seen so many stars in the sky glittering like a milky way. Even though I was freezing I just could not stop staring at the sky while a traditional song was being sung at a far away settlement.

But we had things to do, and the manager at the hostel slotted all our rides and I jumped and said,’I am going first at7.30′

Like an excited child i sat outside waiting for the jeep and boy o boy I couldn’t contain my excitement when I was asked to sit in the back of the open jeep while it speeded in circles climbing up the Billing valley.

The Billing valley paragliding site is often quoted as the second best site in the world and many world championships have been conducted here for the thermals are very good and you can easily fly in the air for long.

When you stand atop the valley and look as far as you can the only feeling that i felt was how miniscule we are in the scheme of things called nature and life. Somehow I wasn’t scared I was raring to run and jump and scream my heart and so I did!

My instructor is an ex-Indian army fellow and he literally took me inside a floating cloud. Now imagine, someone who is scared of turbulence in a flight and who rarely takes flight out of choice is now taking a whirl inside a little passing cloud, like a neighbor who has come to say hello.

We were in the sky for over 20 minutes where me and Harish, my instructor shared our faith, lifestories, how he learnt paragliding, his daughter who wants to go to an english school and so much more.

He also taught me how paragliding is nothing but following an eagle’s flight as the eagle always knows where the winds direction moves. All you have to do is follow the tail, quite simple? Not really but he made it sound so simple and easy and just as i blinked he started air stunts and I screamed my lungs out and landed on the offsite!

For every person who does this ride those 20-25 minutes in the air mean something personal to each one of them. Something to let go, or something they seize in that moment! For me I screamed goodbye to my fear of flying that day, that’s a lot for a day!

Here is the quick takeaway:

Stay: Zostel Bir

Cost: Rs 500 per night (depends which bunkbed)

Pragliding through Zostel Escape: Costs Rs 2000/-

Go-Pro videos-Rs500/- directly goes to the gliding instructor

Upper Dharamkot to Zostel Bir: By cab, Rs 1500/-

Most important- The best alloo prathas at Zostel Bir and yes, say bye to your fears!

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