This time weekend plan was to hit Manali and experience thrill of paragliding in Solang Valley. Anand, Jaideep and me traveled all the way from Nangal Dam to Manali on Friday (11th Nov 2011) night. We arrived at Manali late night at 01:00 AM. Cold weather at Manali in night was a change for us.
Next day morning, the agenda was to reach Solang Valley for paragliding expedition. It was around 40 kilometer from Hotel where we stayed last night.
The road from Manali to Solang is same as Rohtang pass road untill 10 kilometers from Manali town. This valley has been blessed with nature's love in form of green lush landscaps, dense pine trees and spectacular snow covered mountains peaks.
Solang Valley is known for its adventure sports like paragliding and skiing. Thousands of adventure enthusiast makes a visit here every year.
The very first view of Solang valley looked like a paradise full of greenery. Para-shoots in clear blue sky increased the excitement to experience this adventure.
An excellently maintained Cable Car took us to the peak of the mountain along-with our pilots carrying big backpack of para-shoots. As cable car moved up, the valley looked too small and in a while we disappeared towards the top of the hill.
All three of us decided that I will go first, then Jaideep and finally Anand. As we reached at take off point, pilot started putting on harness and helmet on me. It all reminded me of my Bungee Jumping at Rishikesh in Dec 2010. The valley down was similar to that of Bungee Jumping. Little bit of nervousness, but I was all set for this thrilling experience.
Then there was a time when I was on front and all ready to pull the para-shoot against wind. The only thing I knew was that wind will push the para-shoot behind and we will have to pull it ahead with full force. As Pilot gave green signal, I started moving ahead along with pilot. It was really heavy, infact heavier than what I had imagined.
After five to six steps, I lost the contact with earth. Assuming that we have already taken off, I just stopped putting any effort to touch the earth. One hit on my legs and I was completely falling down. My head was down and we were falling really fast. Thanks to Pilot's skills that despite all this we were able to take off.
As the para-shoot took off in Air, the noise cooled down and view changed in seconds. Valley looked too small, dense pine tree forest looked tiny, people looked like dots and houses looked like small toys displayed for sale in Kids store.I could see the entire valley below us like a book full of painting. Zing zag wind moving up and down helped our para-shoot to take free falls and gaining height in seconds. This entire play went on for around 7 minutes when Pilot made an excuse that wind is not enough to stay flying for long.
No wonder I wished this thrill to last long. While preparing for landing, one could feel the speed of falling down as gravity pulls down the para-shoot hard. Contrary to my impression, landing was too smooth. I did not even feel it at all.
Those 7 minutes, I wished to live it again. But we decided to keep this excitement in mind so that it becomes a reason to come back to this place again.
Soon Jaideep also landed. We waited for 5 minutes, 10 minutes and half an hour but Anand did not reach down. We called him up, but no reply on phone. We looked for organizer, he was also not around.
After sometime, Anand landed at Solang Valley. To our curiosity, he shared his experience. Anand and Pilot had crash in first take off, all credit goes to Anand's heavy built. In second take off finally they could be successful.
I watched for para-shoots flying in sky for long and wondering if I can take para-shoot alone in sky and hover around full Himalayan range. Free like birds to fly from one beautiful place to another and story continues.
It was not only paragliding which made this weekend special but also a nice and humorous company of Jaideep and Anand added spice to it.