Updated: Sep 20, 2020
It was on a Monday in May, 2019. I was at home (in Lucknow) - alone and bored but hopeful and looking for places to visit over the weekend. It was the time between completing my engineering and joining the job. I came across a place that I had never heard of, but it's 2nd in the world and even held a World Cup in that adventure sport! That was enough for me to chalk out a plan on a short notice.
The journey :
I convinced my cousin and my close friend to join me on this adventure. With no available direct way to reach our destination, we booked an early Thursday morning train to Delhi (no! that's not even where I had planned to go). Moreover, my friend would join us in Delhi for the onward journey.
We reached Delhi in the afternoon. Although sleepy and tired, we were hungry too. So, we decided to visit CP and eat something there. After grabbing a burger and a cold one, we went into the market to kill time. The main reason for me to go to CP however, was to try the Fire Paan!
We then headed to Majnu Ka Tila, our boarding point for the onward journey by bus. By the time we reached there, my friend had come too. Since we still had some time to kill, we strolled around in the Tibetan market.
It was now time to board the overnight bus to our destination!
In the morning, we woke up to the beautiful Himalayan roads and views. We were in Himachal Pradesh! Shortly after, we reached our destination, Bir! This small town of Bir, nestled in the Himalayas, is the landing of point of paragliding. The take off point is in Billing, around 14 kms by rugged road or a 7 kms steep hike from Bir. As mentioned earlier, Billing is the 2nd highest point in the world for paragliding and hosted the 2015 Paragliding World Cup.
We quickly went to a home stay and freshened up. It was arranged for by the company through which we booked the hike (we never choose the road when there's an option to hike or trek) and the paragliding. After having our breakfast at the beautiful stay, we went for the hike.
The hike was beautiful. It took us around 4.5-5 hours with short breaks and a half an hour break for lunch.
We met some shepherds in between, taking rest.
We knew that our hike was almost over once we looked up to the sky and saw the paragliders. After reaching the top, I was so happy that I decided to jump on the edge of the road with our guide.
We then headed to our campsite where we would stay for the night and take rest before our big jump into the valley next day! We had some amazing food, sat around the bonfire and sang and had fun.
Next day, we woke up early, only to see a cloud cover above our heads. Now, if you don't know, cold weather is not good for paragliding, as it's the warmer air that keeps you up. So not knowing what would happen, whether we would be paragliding or not, we got ready and had our breakfast, overlooking the beautiful valley.
While we were still eating, a pickup car came with our instructors standing behind and shouting 'Move! Move! Let's go!' We quickly gobbled up everything, packed our bags and kept them in the car (so that we get them after finishing the flight), and got ready to run down the hill and take the leap of faith.
It was amazing! Surreal experience!!
My instructor asked me during the flight if I wanted to do some stunts, and once I agreed, it got even more exhilarating! (Video below.)
After a good 15 minutes, we landed in Bir. I landed like a Greek God, whereas my brother proved to be Koalemos! :P
With all this adrenaline flowing through our body, it felt like we didn't have any breakfast. So, we decided to have some pizza.
After having so many calories, it was now time to burn a few. We rented bicycles and went on a ride to the Palpung Sherabling Monastery. It was a 6 kms uphill ride but turned out to be 10 kms one way, just because we missed a turn. We decided to cut some corners as well, literally. We went through the valley instead of taking the road and were glad to do so, as we noticed the collection of rubber from trees.
We eventually reached the monastery. It was very calming.
After spending some time there, we headed back to Bir, where we returned the bicycles and waited for our bus back to Delhi. We reached Delhi next day, early in the morning and from there took another bus, back to Lucknow.
It could have been easier transit, had we booked our tickets in advance. But, where's the fun in that!
82 hours, approximately 4200 ft drop in air, 1550 kms of bus ride, 500 kms of train ride, 16 kms of cycling, 5 hours of hiking and a night of camping later, we were back to where we started!