Stranger to the ground
By Tascha Eipe
27th March 2011 03:12 AM
Sure, it’s a sleepy spot. But then, Kamshet is a great getaway from the bustle of urban life.
This Maharashtra town is surrounded by paddy fields, green hills and serene lakes. But that is not all it is known for. In recent times, Kamshet has emerged as a hotspot for paragliders.
How? For one, the location is great, the air is breezy — courtesy the Sahayadri mountain range. No wonder, hundreds of expert paragliders and adventure seekers find their way here. They scale the mountains and hills with their backpacks, all with one goal in mind: to jump off the edge of a cliff, and soar into the clouds.
Naturally, the area has numerous paragliding schools — offering courses from the beginner level. If you feel like just taking a joyride, tandem paragliding is also on offer: to give you that oncein- a-lifetime experience. It takes about an hour to trek up the winding path to the top of the hill — the takeoff point.
The instructors brief you, give you a couple of tips, and then buckle you up to a pilot. The glider or wing behind you fills with air and starts to lift. You muster your courage, and launch out over the ridge.
Paragliding is probably the closest feeling one can have of flying like a bird. You can reach up to 200 feet above ground level. There is no noise, and your feet dangle above the miniscule trees, cattle and fields below. The pilot guides you over the top of the mountain range, through gentle swells and buffeting gusts that let you swoop over the landscape like an eagle.
A slight tug on the left or right handle attached to the wing will change direction, and you can soar in the cool, crisp air. The weightlessness and freedom is exhilarating, not to forget the amazing views! Landing is probably the only thing one would worry about, but it is surprisingly smooth. You just have to run as you hit the ground, just like stepping off a moving bus. In any case, the instructor strapped behind you is definitely good backup.
For those who do get addicted, weekend retreats are the only cure. Food and stay can be arranged at ‘The Native Place’, a quaint guesthouse located nearby the flying sites. You can stay dorm-style in bunk beds, or book one of the double rooms with attached bath for more privacy. The guesthouse has a great view overlooking the Vadivali lake, and barbeque dinners up on the terrace are a perfect end to the day.
Flying season is from October to June throughout the year. Once you get the ‘hang’ of it, no doubt you will be raring for more. The only problem is, if you want another ride, you need to climb up the damn mountain again.
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