Did you ever feel the urge to be free to fly like a bird ? Just take off and soar high to feel one with the universe ? To feel like God, looking down upon the insignificant earth ? If yes, then what you probably need to satisfy that urge is to go paragliding. Paragliding as a sport is gaining popularity in India and every time the weather is good, you can find adventure buffs making a beeline for destinations that offer this activity.
One such prominent destination is Bir Billing. Nestled among the Dhauladhar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh is the village of Bir, and Billing is the spot from where one is launched into the sky. Having been bitten by the paragliding bug, a few adventurous friends and I decided to take off to Bir last month. I was the one entrusted with making the arrangements for the trip.
I contacted an agent based in Bir and he offered us a complete package for our trip which was inclusive of trekking, camping and paragliding. We started in the evening from Delhi and reached Bir next day morning.
On our arrival at Bir, we were provided with a hotel wherein we freshened up before starting our trek to Billing – the top of the mountain. The trek was definitely tiring but the view of the picturesque location was simply breath-taking.
After about 90 minutes into the trek we arrived there to be greeted by the welcome sight of our tent, already set up beautifully and waiting for us, with provisions for two bonfires.
The night spent on the top of the mountain was definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life so far. We were offered deliciously cooked food, which we enjoyed sitting by bonfire and thereafter danced our way into the wee hours of the dawn. However, given the fact that we were already tired at the end of the long day, we decided to catch some sleep for a couple of hours.
The next morning we were awoken by our trip coordinator and we got ready to go to Billing – the spot on top of the mountain that was regular jumping spots for paragliders. Everything was neatly organised and we were given a briefing about the dos and don’ts of paragliding, which also included questions about our weight, health condition etc, as part of the safety precautions taken by the organisers. Thereafter, we were taken one by one to put on our paragliding harnesses.
As per rule, each paraglider is accompanied by a licensed paragliding instructor, who is harnessed along with each person attempting the jump. The hardest part of the whole experience was overcoming the initial fear to jump from the Mountain. However, it was a reassuring feeling to know that the licensed instructor was harnessed right behind each of us to take us through the whole experience. Whatever fear we may have felt initially, it soon gave way to a feeling of sheer exhilaration, as after the initial run off the slope, a strong gust of wind plucked us right off the slope and up into the air. It was amazing to be treated to a bird’s eye view of the valley beneath us as we continued to soar higher and higher on the wings of the wind.
The experience of paragliding is so unique that words fail me in describing it. It is something to be experienced and lived – something that none of us had ever experienced before. Remember the feeling of being one with the universe that I spoke about in the beginning ? Of feeling like God ? It was all that and more. It took us about 15 to 20 minutes to glide all the way down and it was like flying over paradise. Each current of wind would tend to lift us higher and higher but the experienced hands of the instructor behind us kept us on course by tugging on the ropes and adjusting the parachute. We had an amazing 360 degree view of the valley below us and the hills all around us. The town down below seemed dotted with toy houses. Despite the wind being chilly, the adrenaline rush totally pumped us up and we could not have enough of the feeling of riding the skies. During those brief moments, each one of us experienced something that would stay with us for a lifetime.
And then all of a sudden, it was time for us to make a descent. The instructor slowly and gently guided us down to the level field which was designated for landing and the touchdown was smooth and easy. As we got our harnesses off, we could not but help feeling that we had experienced something totally unique – something that we wanted more of.
Our vehicle was already waiting for us at the field and shortly thereafter, we headed for lunch.
We left soon after the dive, but the memories of this most amazing trip is still fresh in our minds. Something tells me that these memories will stay with us for a long time to come, and I foresee myself coming back sometime soon for more.