Paragliding, an adventure sport in India, was first started in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh by Navin Sarin in 1982, and ever since it has been a very adventurous activity that is thrilling and calming.
If one harbours a sense of thrill and adventure, this is the sport!
Surely it has been among the top adventures of to-do lists/bucket lists. Gliding above the quaint town and the blue hills while the mysterious wind grazes you -sometimes lightly, sometimes with force – is an experience of a lifetime. For after all, who hasn’t romanticized being one with the wind, the skies, and the clouds?
"My journey with paragliding started in 2002. When I came to Kalimpong in 2005, I explored different places and found Delo as the perfect spot for the take-off area. After seeking permission from Dr. Grahams Homes School to use their ground for landing, I worked towards the goal to set up paragliding as an adventure sport in Kalimpong. We cleaned the take-off area and made it befitting for the adventure sport.
My maiden flight was from Delo to Relli, and I pride myself in stating that I was the first person to ever paraglide in Kalimpong. For many years, mine was the only glider sailing above Kalimpong.
Today, I am happy to see that this adventure sport has been well established in Kalimpong. Safety is an important aspect and I trust that the operators are focused on the safety of the patrons.
I now live in Sweden and run a Paragliding and Paramotor school, Fly4Fun. I never miss the chance to paraglide whenever I am in Kalimpong. "
Roger Lenngren - Pioneer of Paragliding adventure in Kalimpong
Roger Lenngren, a Swedish National started paragliding venture in Kalimpong in 2009. It has turned into a popular adventure for tourists and locals ever since.
The paragliding sport not only gives a boost for tourism but also can be credited for its employment factor. The fairly decent weather of Kalimpong helps the gliders to enjoy the view of the ridge as they glide and also catch a bird’s eye view of the valley below.
The take-off area for the sport is situated at the highest point of Kalimpong town- the Deolo Hill while the landing points are dispersed at various locations within the valley. Where one would want to land depends upon the gliding package one pays or the climatic conditions for the day one has chosen to fly.
“What if I fall ? Oh !! But my darling what if you fly?”
It felt as though I was zooming out and seeing the bigger picture the earth had to offer. The roads looked smaller, the houses like matchboxes and the tall pine trees like small bushes or shrubs. You get a birds-eye view of the iconic Dr. Graham’s Homes school and the entire Kalimpong town. The mighty Kanchenjunga mountain covered in snow and the sky, unending and engulfing everything around looked like a playground to me from above.
The momentary experience of flying and being liberated was an experience that I would cherish all my life and even though it was my first, it will never be my last.
The feeling of the heavens above you, the earth below, and you a finite human having the power to direct the way you go felt so fragile and yet so fulfilled. It was an experience that made me feel infinite and finite at the same time.
When your feet hangs in the air and you’re swarming like a bird, when you don’t have a path ahead to walk on, but there’s surety in the wings holding you high.
All you do is fly; fly high.
The Kalimpong Paragliding Association has around 15 groups registered under them, with 15 pilots working full time with the maximum number of pilots from Kalimpong. During peak seasons, each group flies almost 100 tourists a day. The pilots have all been trained and certified in Bir Billing Himachal. There are two types of flight that they offer- a medium and long flight. The medium flight is about 15 minutes long where they take off and land in Ronaldsay Park or locally known as the Homes Ground. The long flight takes about 25-30 minutes where the take-off is from Delo and lands in Relli river.
PARAGLIDING RATE :
The rate is INR 3000 and INR 5000 respectively with an extra INR 500 for go-pro usage. (Rates as per November 2021)
IDEAL TIME :
The perfect weather for flying would be the dry and hot seasons. During the monsoons, the sport is stalled for a brief period of time.
However, just being one with nature isn’t enough!! Safety always comes first.
There are certain things that one needs to check before flying. Having a check on your health condition is very important. Make sure the weather is suitable for flying. Before you sign the release and waiver of liability and identity agreement read it carefully to clear any doubt.
I leave this blog with a quote, hoping it will inspire you and I wish you a happy flying experience.
"You will never know how far you will fly, until you spread your wings"
Content Copyright ©Prasanna Almah Rai / Photo Copyright © Praveen Chettri
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