Paragliding at Solang Valley | When I Flew Like A Bird, Feeling Light and Free
You travel not to get lost, but to find yourself..!!!
When I was young, I had heard this phrase which said – Either you read a book or roam the world. Even though I love reading books, I love travelling even more.
When I say travel, most of the population want to visit a foreign location. Well, someday even I want to. Specifically Paris. Oh come on someone who love beauty and fashion, of course it’s the Disney land for us..!! (Ahmmm well, Disney land too is in my bucket list. Thanks to the inner kid in me who refuses to grow up. We are never too old for Disney. Are we?? Naa.!!).
But I think I belong to that category of population, who wants to explore own country first. I mean India is incredible. #IncredibleIndia. We have 29 states, 7 union territories. N number of culture, language. Immense variety of food, flora, fauna…!! Most of the tourists from all over the world has India in their bucket list. How lucky are we to get a chance to live in such a country with so many bio diversities.! I have been to 10 states so far. Many more to go..!!!
This year, 2019 June, I had been to Himachal Pradesh, with my BFF (read it as sister) and bunch of dear friends. We had amazing experience. (Check my Instagram for more pictures.)
Major adventurous thing we did in this trip is paragliding at Solang Valley Manali.
One of our dear friend had this in her bucket list. She wanted to experience this, by jumping off the cliff in Manali (of course with all safety). I love adventures like this. I have done paragliding (comparatively very smaller heights, parasailing, rappelling etc) But jumping from the height of 3200+ meters, was not an easy thing. Still the adventure bug in me made sure that I did this adventure..!!!
We went to the ticket centre to get the tickets for the paragliding. Honestly, I was afraid. I felt like those three musketeers of the Bollywood movie Zindagi na Milegi Doobara (one of my favourites.) I made use of every brain cells to encourage me to do this.
Buying tickets, making mind was just the starters. When the ticket centre person asked us to sign the forms, phew that is where my hands started shaking. haha. It said they are not responsible if anything happens. We got to sign it as a token of agreement. They also take our personal details like name, address etc. In case, you know.!
My biggest encouragement was my sister. She said she will also do it.!! Even though she was terrified, she was comforted with the fact that her sister, me, will be with her. (See this is the best part of having siblings. We don’t let our sibling do any adventure alone.!).
We both were trembling but we were laughing looking at each other’s face. (Another benefit of having your sibling as your crime partner. We make each other laugh in the worst situations too.)
We paid the money for our rides and they showed us the way to the peek from where we were supposed to jump..! They took us to the peek by ropeway ( 3200 meters height, so obvious). We were accompanied by two paragliding rider/ pilots who had all the equipment with them.
Just to break the ice, I spoke to one of them about their experience with paragliding. Since how long they have been doing this. (Honestly not just to break the ice, to make sure we are in safe hands.!) They said 8-10 years. They have done trainings and have certificates too. (They could read the fear in my face. Of course. haha).
We reached the cliff. There were already people who were waiting for their turn to fly. Some were already flying.
They have different spots on the mountain cliff. Depending on your body weight, they classify the different levels of starting point. Well, they considered my sister and me as ‘underweight’. If it would be a boy he might have been offended. But girls are indirectly proportional to the ‘weight related compliments’. We become ‘more happy’ when someone say we have ‘less weight’. Vice versa. We were very happy. We had already made a note of food we are going to have, without guilt, if we reach home safely..! haha. I said this weight point specifically because they were planning to take both of us in a single paraglide due to weight factor. Less the weight, more difficult it is to control the paraglide. But those pilots had some words with each other and decided to take us separately.
My sister and I were hugging each other. People over there had gala time laughing at us. Bothering about them was the least thing in our list that time.
So when it comes to paragliding in most of the cases, especially if the height from where we are starting is more, we will always be accompanied by a pilot. They tie the harness and pilot and we will be sitting on that harness. Harness suspends below a fabric wing. You will be sitting in front and you get to enjoy the ride thoroughly. Pilot on the other hand, sits behind us and controls the paraglider. Paraglider is light weight and the wing shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside. I must say pilot need a lot of arm strength to control the paraglider.
Being a responsible sister, I was more worried for my sister. How will she manage and stuff.! I had a word with her pilot. By this time you might have guessed what I might have asked him. You are right, about his years of experience. 😁 She went to fly first as her pilot was ready. The mountain was sloppy. Too tough to walk without falling. She flew and I could hear her scream. I was nervous for her. Her paraglider went smoothly in the air. Smooth like a butter she glided in the air and she went quite far where I couldn’t hear her scream any more.
Between my brain cells were worried about my sister, my pilot asked me to come and wear the safety gears. Pheww… I wore it and made sure they checked it well. The people over there, the paragliding team people, they were having fun looking at me panicking. But the pilot was a very nice person. He had a small chat with me and made me feel that I am in safe hands. As I had given instructions that I need to run through the sloppy mountain for few seconds and pull my legs up in the air, I just took a long breath and said “This is it”.
I just kept a foot forward, a man fell down His leg was tangled to my paraglider’s strings. I told to myself “Good start Pallavi.!”.
There comes the moment. I started running through sloppy mountain for a while and pulled my legs up and guess what, within some seconds I was in the air…!!!!!!
See I had got my first sign when that guy fell down, that it is going to be more adventurous for me. That is exactly what happened with me.
Wind started blowing in full speed. I mean the weather changed in no time. As soon as I was in air, air was thrilled I guess. Haha. The pilot had tough time controlling the balloon. If you are the first timer, jumping from such heights, you tend to get scared a bit. I was scared for fraction of second because we were swinging in full speed. From south to north. (Watch the video to know what exactly I am talking about). Total 180 degree swing. I could see all tiny people and vehicles down there. I could see my legs hanging in air and no floor beneath. Screaming at the top of my lungs helped me a bit. But then I was like “It’s ok na. In the worst case I won’t make it but Fu*k it. Let me enjoy the view”. That’s when I started noticing and enjoying smallest things.
The fresh cool breeze was magical. The snow covered mountain peaks surrounding me, were surreal. People were looking so tiny down there. That made me realise how small are we in this huge universe. That moment made me realise, we can’t take control of all the situations. We can do two things, either panic and waste more energy and time. Or just be in the moment, look at positive side and enjoy to make the most of the present. I did choose to enjoy.
The pilot was kind. He struggled a lot to control the paraglider. He was worried when I had magically stopped screaming and was totally silent. haha. He was constantly checking whether I was ok.
At some point of time, I thought we are going to hit a tree. I was so in careless mode that time, I was laughing at the situation. I thought it would be like in those cartoon movies. Where cartoon characters hit long, pointy trees and get stuck there..!! haha. You can find this ‘almost hitting a tree moment’ in the video.
While coming down it was hilarious too. It was a crowded area. I thought I will kick someone on their face. Because we are supposed to keep our leg up while landing and chances were high that in the crowd some absent minded fellow ending up on my feet. 😅
Jokes apart, I must say, those two minutes while I was in the air, was magical.
Usual or normal paragliding is smooth. They jump and glide in the air. They cover huge area and enjoy nature’s view.
But mine..!! Haha it was a rollercoaster ride.
when I landed, people over there (by the way there are people to capture your paragliding moments. You can pay them and get your pieces of memories in the form of photos/ videos they have captured.) who had observed me paragliding, said, “you had the perfect paragliding experience. This is the exact thrill people seek in this sport.”. I was surprised and that made me even more happy. That was like a compliment people usually give you when you come out of a sh*t situation with flying colours…!!!
While my sister had fun and happily enjoyed her paragliding, I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a lot in those few moments of mine, in the air. Flying like a bird made me feel free and lighter from inside…!!!
In order to see the view of world and life from far, you too should try this sport at least once.
Do check the video to have a glimpse of my paragliding experience.