I sit at the flying site, waiting for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will take off the cliff and talk to the birds. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight. Its difficult to stop thinking about it. A jump from 2600 meters to 1400 meters and I will be air-bound for half an hour. I can feel my adrenaline rushing already!
My thoughts were wandering in all possible directions. I was waiting for that moment when I will fly off the cliff. I was waiting to experience an amazing adventure sport, Paragliding.
Paragliding at Bir-Billing is an experience in itself. An experience not much known to Indians. The experience I am sharing here, dates back to the month of May’13 when I was exploring Himachal Pradesh, all alone. I had traveled alone to the flying site along with my back pack and a tent. After a night of camping at the flying site, I was going to jump off the cliff with the Paraglider descending at a breathtaking speed.
I reached the flying site by lunch time. After a sumptuous meal, I sat staring at the picturesque site in front of me. The never ending terrains of lands, the distant river, the tiny looking far-away mountains and the magnanimous snow clad mountains in the back drop created another world altogether. I spent the whole afternoon reading a novel and admiring the nature around. I indulged in the peace and silence around, waiting for the sun to set.
In the evening, I met a pilot who would accompany me for paragliding. After a small chat, I went to explore the nearby terrains while the sun continued its journey towards the horizon. As the evening was ending, the pilots were becoming anxious. Some clouds had formed in the sky. Due to this, they might have to cancel their scheduled flights. However, the clouds gave way to the sun and the pilots sprinted to grab their gears. In no time, all these pilots who were sulking because of the clouds, were air bound. Even after an hour, they were circling around the mountains.
Seeing them air bound, my heart started beating rapidly. The only thought that came to my mind was that next morning, I would also be flying at a height of 9,000 ft.
I did not realize when the evening passed and it was time for camp fire. 4 guys had joined from Mumbai and we sat with the fire flickering and a blanket of stars covering us. Savoring the delicious food prepared by the our tour guide, we chatted, in high spirits, like long lost friends. Finally, we headed towards our tent. I slept, hoping to be in a good physical state to fly the next day.
It was morning. I glimpsed through the tent to realize that the sun was shining very brightly. I thought I had overslept. But, when I asked the guide, I discovered that it was only 7 am. I had never seen the sun shine so brightly at such early hours ever. I contemplated to head back to the tent and sleep. But, I decided against it and sat staring at the scattering clouds. I only hoped that they continued to scatter and not gather around. If the clouds accumulated and grew darker, it only meant delaying or even canceling my paragliding flight.
God decided not to ruin my plans and finally it was time. I waited for my paragliding kit to arrive. Minutes seemed to be like hours. The wait was making me anxious. But, the kit eventually arrived and it was time to soar above the eagles. It was time to fly where the Eagle’s can’t dare!!
My pilot called me and I skipped a heart beat. As he was tying the safety belts all around me, I felt the adrenaline rushing across my system. All set, I attached myself with the parachute strings and was all set to Fly.
The pilot was giving me instructions. But, I was busy locating the landing site which was difficult to find from the flying site. I wondered how the pilot would figure it out! All the instructions went right over my head and the only instruction I remembered was to lift my legs at the count of three. The wind was becoming stronger as the sun rose. My throat was drying as the count began. . .
1, 2, 3 . .
There was ruffle, there were swings, there were scratches. But, after 2 minutes, there was complete silence. Only the wind was causing noise by colliding with my parachute. I was air bound! I was flying! The wait was finally over! The exuberance was finally transforming into a realization that nothing can be better than this!
I just admired the beauty around. It was breathtaking! The Himalayas were looking closer. The sky was looking wider and the earth was looking smaller. I was flying at a height of 2600 m. This altitude is greater than any South Indian Hill station.
Gradually, as I soaked in the experience, powerful wind thermals took me to the height of 3000 m !! I looked at my feet hanging in the air. But, I noticed something which left me astonished. There were Eagles flying below me. I was flying above the Eagles fly the highest among birds. I was flying where the Eagle’s can’t dare!
As time passed, I told the pilot to execute an acrobatic stunt. The pilot agreed and he performed a 360 degree swirl. In this stunt, the parachute comes swirling down in a spiral form. When the pilot executed the stunt, I felt the wind thrashing my Face. On earth, wind would hit your face at this speed only if you are riding your bike at 200 KMs, without wearing a helmet.
The experience ended on a high note, leaving me excited. I was back on earth after half an hour of action. I was so excited, I paid Rs 300 to get 5-6 photos of mine. However, it was totally worth it.
I bid farewell to the venue hoping to come back soon. But, the next time I visit, it will be in winter. When the sky is clear and the blanket of snow waits for you to come and nail your tent.
If you like adventure, Bir-Billing paragliding experience should not be missed.