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Paragliding

Overview

The sport that gives you wings, quite literally, has gained momentum over the past two decades in the Indian subcontinent. What started out as a recreational activity has now turned to be a competitive adventure sport. People from all over the world travel to enjoy the majestic Himalayas as they glide through the air with nothing but a nylon canopy and wind beneath their wings.

India houses world-class levels of paragliding topography and equipment and thus is growing popularity in the competitive zone. Our geography is what makes this sport an easy access for one and all. Be it snow-clad mountains or barren deserted terrains, paragliding has the potential to show you the best of what our country possesses.

Paragliding is simpler than the other aviation sports and it completely relies on the degree of the driver’s adventurousness or cautious he wants to make his experience. However, preliminary training is compulsory for every pilot for safe flights.

If you are set to try the sport, get yourself enrolled at an institute that offers courses in paragliding in India. There are four-day elementary pilot course that will teach you the basics and give you approximately ten supervised solo flights. On completion of the elementary course, you are eligible to take the Club Pilot course which teaches you the advanced techniques of flying and longer flight durations. An average ride lasts for 15-30min.

Hilly regions provide umpteen number of adventure sports, paragliding/paramotoring being amongst them. A good mix of landscapes and slopes makes for a prospective location for this flying sport.

Season

Seasons conducive to glide

Climatic conditions play an important role in deciding your scale of enjoyment. Paragliding lessons and activities are held all year round in destinations such as Solang, Bijli Mahadev, Bir Billing and Fatru. The weather in Kullu and Manali is supportive to paragliding. When the weather is desirable, a person can ride in the air for hours together.

Clear skies are generally preferred by all due to visibility and safety issue and also to enjoy the general beauty of the surrounding.

The best season for paragliding is from February to June and resumes in September to November. It is advisable that paragliding be avoided during the monsoons.

Location

Bir Billing

Altitude: 2600m

This historic place in Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh is a perfect place to try out paragliding. This place is also known as paragliding capital of the nation. Bir is the point for taking, and 14km away Billing is a place for landing. The most important reason behind its popularity is suitable air currents.

Manali

Altitude: 1700 m to 1900 m

Solang valley is 11km away from Manali where paragliding is conducted by gliding schools. You get to experience the mesmerizing views of Solang valley. The best months for flying in the air starts from May till the end of October.

Bilaspur

Altitude: more than 1000 m

Bilaspur has a range of high hills around which paragliders wander. The mountains are worth exploring by flying above them. Bilaspur is one of the popular spots for paragliding in Himachal Pradesh. Make sure you carry a camera to capture the beauty of Bilaspur.

Gangtok

Altitude: 1200 – 2200m

One of the major benefits of paragliding is that you get to explore those places which are not popular. Gangtok has various places which have not been explored which you can explore those by paragliding.

Sanasar

Altitude: 2000 m

Paragliding at Sanasar gives us an amazing view of landscapes in Jammu and Kashmir valleys. Sanasar is the take-off point and Kud is the landing spot. Clear skies work best for this sport and in general May to June and September to October are considered best for paragliding activities.

Kamshet

Altitude: 700m

Kamshet paragliding gives you captivating views of Western Ghats.
The major benefit here is that you get to customize your route for paragliding within limited boundaries. This place is situated between Pune and Mumbai due to which it grabs a lot of enthusiasts from Both the places. Best time to visit Kamshet for paragliding is October to June.

Sport

Paragliding

Paragliding first dates back to 1952. Since the 1980s, the entire equipment and tactics have continually been evolved and improved. The first ever Paragliding World Competition was held in 1987 (though it was unofficial). Two years later, in 1989, the first officially sanctioned FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale) World Tournament was held in Austria.

Today, paragliding competitions take place at different levels ranging from club to national and international. This thriving sport is not limited to the upland environments only but tow-launching can also be employed.

There are various disciplines of competitive paragliding, such as cross-country flying and aerobatic competitions. Competitions are held for individual pilots as well as for pairs that show synchronous performances.

Reference: Topend sports

Competition & Festival

About the Competitions/festivals:

Bir, Himachal Pradesh:

Bir became the first destination in India to hold a Paragliding World Cup ( PWC) in 2015 before that in 2013 Pre-PWC was held in Bir. In the whole world, there are only 6 other locations that host PWC. Every year at Bir, a paragliding festival for 7 days is organised where paragliders from different parts of the world gather around for paragliding and show their skillset. Paragliding slowly and steady, got its recognition in India as an adventure sport. In 2018, this festival was held from 27th October to 3rd November.

Saputara, Gujarat:

Saputara hosts a 26 day long Paragliding festival which has been set up by Gujarat Tourism in tie ups with many private organisations. This festival has managed to get more than 5000 entries every year from far flung places. Gujarat Tourism wants this place to be recognised as India’s paragliding destination. Training session are being conducted by expert pilots for novices. Anywhere between, December and January this festival is being organised.

Pappu Valley, Arunachal Pradesh:

Paragliding Association of Arunachal held its first paragliding festival; wherein it welcomed paragliding pilots from India as well as from all over the world. It was a three day festival happened between 17th -19th November, 2018. Location wise, Pappu Valley, is one of the most spectacular places of East Kameng District also known as Land of dawn-lit mountains.

Dehradun, Uttarkhand:

Doon festival was organised by the BSF Institute of Adventure and Advance Training (BIAAT) Doiwala and Paragliding Association of Uttarakhand (PAU). This was a 3 day long festival, held on the banks of the song river. There were a total of 22 paragliding pilots, who were there in this festival out of 22, 11 were from BSF (Border Security Force).

General Tips

Paragliding has potentially higher risk involved with the current fatality rate. However, the chances of injury can be reduced by proper skill training and management of risk.

Proper equipments, having a reserve chute, wing design according to pilots skill level will reduce the potential of risk. Understanding the surrounding wind, grounds, landscape, obstacles and power lines will minimize risk.

The pilots should be trained for emergency maneuvers and wing controls.

According to the training schools out in India, primary training for beginner level pilots starts usually with some amount of ground level education and exercises to discuss the basics, including elementary theories of flight as well as principle structure and operation of the paraglider.

Students then learn how to control the glider on the ground, practicing take-offs and controlling the wing ‘overhead’. Low, gentle hills are next where students get their first short flights, flying at very low altitudes, to get used to the handling of the wing over varied terrain.

Equipments

Equipment’s used for paragliding are provided by the school, so you don’t necessarily need to carry anything of your own, details of which are explained in the corresponding image.