Rajasthan has always been a lure for sports and adventure loving travellers. Cycling, zipline, paragliding, camel riding and hill climbing are some of the other activities that can be enjoyed while roaming around this arid state. While cycling can be done in rural sets, other options are only available in countryside. While crossing borders in between the state, travelers can enjoy these thrilling rural activities. The state highways at many places have labelled boards stating the type of adventure going on. One such roadside board stopped our vehicle when we were heading towards Jaisalmer city from sand dunes. The state highway ran between trails of desert on both sides. The board read ‘Some ABC Paragliding Academy’.
The mere word of paragliding made us jump out from our vehicle and we moved towards the academy point. The entire area as far our eyes could go was covered in sands with a thin strip of road in between. There were a variety of colourful flags hoisted around the paragliding spot which differentiated it from the rest of the area. Few men wearing uniforms of the said academy were helping the travellers with the adventure. Few instructors were also there to help the newcomers. A person going for paragliding is ‘armed’ with helmet, knee caps and jackets. The jackets have tight belts, several attached strips and a flexible leather seat at the back. The strips are further attached to a huge and massive colourful balloon. One end of the belt is tied to the person and another is hooked with a jeep. As the jeep drives forward, one has to run a small distance and very soon directional and heavy air pressure towards the massive balloon fills it up. The enlargement if the balloon gradually lifts the rider up in the air. The flexible seat at the back can be utilised to sit during the fly. The jeep drives a distance of twenty to twenty five kilometres through the desert holding the entire balloon in position. After a fifteen to twenty minutes stay in the air the jeep turns on to an area where air pressure is much less and one can come down easily. Sometimes it is done manually as well by pulling down the belt curved with the jeep. The rider is then brought back to the origin point by the jeep.
We waited impatiently for our turn. Watching others and shouting and clapping with them already made us a bit more thrilled and excited even before our turn. And finally the hit moment came. After wearing helmet and jacket it was time to get ready for the small run. No more than the instructor said ‘run’, I was on my toes. Could not even feel for how long and how far I ran and suddenly I felt the absence of loose sand below my sneakers.WWHHOOLLAA!!! I was flying!!
Due to much exhilaration, I could not presume the height at which the balloon was moving, only I could see (not actually see but rather guessed) were the small green patches of vegetation, the jeep, peoples who were standing for their turn, the road strip and most of all The Great Indian Desert all around. Far, far beyond Jaisalmer city could be seen. A canvas of different splashes of colour stood in front my vision. On my extreme right, desert was lying while on my far extreme left, stood the city. I don’t know why but I was shouting at my topmost voice. I felt as if I was at the top of the world. I could not decide whether to gaze and snap around or to take selfies. I was so much overwhelmed and beset that the twenty minutes session of flying seemed so less.
At long last after hanging out in the air for some time I was feeling a dragging force which pulled the entire balloon towards the ground. Few people helped me while I alighted. The returning journey to the start point was in the jeep. The top views were still flashing in front of my eyes on my way back. The first experience of paragliding was soo enthralling and electrifying that whenever I plan to go back to Rajasthan, the first thing that strikes me after the historical forts and palaces is the awe-inspiring paragliding activity.
- Since the activity is one person at a time with no instructor to fly along with, children are needed to be restricted from such activities.
- Helmet and belts must be fastened properly before taking off the session.
- Timings of paragliding vary as it depends wholly on the wind pressure. If one traveller flies on Monday doesn’t mean that another traveller can take that on Tuesday. The wind may not be happening on Tuesday!
- There are quite a lot of academies providing with flying sessions. Depending on the time period of fly, the price changes. So, bargaining is a must thing to do before hitting the sky.
- Being attentive to own self in terms of balancing is necessary while flying. The top view is worth snapping but that should not cost our injury.
- Covered shoes with covered clothes are essential as covered clothes shield us from sand coils while covered shoes ensure gripped and safe landing after flight.
- Sun screens, sunglasses and wipes are quite useful while the red ball shines bright. Not to forget about drinking ample water while waiting for the turn, caps and hats provide a temporary shelter from the bright sun.