“The journey of life is not meant to be feared or planned; it is meant to be travelled and enjoyed.”
The morning of 30th April brought heavy rainfalls and thunderstorm along with it.Our plan that day was to visit Bir Billing. Bir,is a small village in Himachal Pradesh which is famous worldwide for hosting the first ever world-cup of paragliding.
As we heard the clouds roaring,our spirits took a dip,since all six of us were insanely looking forward to the experience of paragliding.Still,with hope in our hearts we waited for the rains to subside and prayed for a clear weather.And,miraculously by the time we all got ready to leave,the rains had died away and the sun was shining bright in the sky(weather in mountains can be quite deceiving,so do check the forecast before making your visit).
Soon as the weather cleared,we checked out of the hotel and headed to our destination(though we were still skeptical about the climatic conditions in Bir).On the way we stopped at a small dhaba by the name ‘Osho’ and had a mouthwatering breakfast of ‘parathas’ and ‘chole-puri’. As it was a random stop along the way,I don’t remember the exact location of the dhaba. But,if you are able to spot this joint in between Dharamshala and Bir,then do try the delicious ‘chole-puri’.Once we finished the mighty fine breakfast,we boarded the car and made our way to Bir.
“You know what’s the best part about travelling with friends?”It is the memories that you create in the journey,the sound of the giggles that will make you smile even in your dullest days and the moments that will keep you company when there is no one around.Though we were heading to our destination with the hope of gaining an adventurous experience,but little did we know,that we were about to gain so much more and so much better.
Billing,is a valley 14 kms north of Bir and is the launch site for the para-gliders.It is at a height of 2430 meters (above the sea level).The road to the top of the valley is quite narrow and treacherous and it takes approximately an hour or so to reach the paragliding site.As you start scaling height,the beauty of Bir begins to uncover.So,do make sure you are awake through the entire journey and don’t decide to take an itsy-bitsy nap before your take-off. 😉
As soon as we started nearing the destination,our excitement reached it’s peak.In the beginning we were unable to see any para-gliders(from below the valley)but still we decided to go to the launch site and confirm for ourselves.However,as we started climbing the valley,one by one we were able to see multiple para-gliders soaring high above in the sky.The sight of those gliders made all of us highly optimistic(Geetu and Ankur more as they were seeing the gliders in triplets :P).
Once we reached the top of the valley,the view became even more spectacular and mesmerizing.The green valley,cool breeze and along with it numerous para-gliders getting ready to make their flight created a picturesque sight.The multicoloured parachutes,gave a kaleidoscopic image of various birds flying across the valley and the view from the top was breath-taking.
After few customary rounds of photographs,we approached one of the pilots to enquire about the details of paragliding and that is where the fun began.To our dismay,we were informed that the booking counter was all the way down,next to the landing site and we needed to make our bookings before climbing the valley.This was our first setback.However,we requested the pilots to make some arrangement as it was not possible for us to go all the way down,do our bookings and then come back again. The pilot agreed to assist us and accept the payment on the spot,but for that we had a minimum wait time of two hours( it was already 2.30 p.m by then).
As we had set aside the major chunk of the day for paragliding,we consented with the pilot and decided to wait for the stipulated time.Now,with all the time in the world and nowhere to run,it was best few hours of our trip. All we had was the panoramic view,the serene surroundings,a camera in hand and each other’s company.In future,whenever I will reminiscence about these days,I believe,this is the time I would come back to,again and again.
We spent approximately three hours on the top of the valley and all we did was talk,become an audience to other para-gliders and of course click zillion pictures.It has been more than two weeks,but it feels just like yesterday,when we were chatting,cracking jokes and laughing together while making the effort to know each other.
As the time passed,the weather got chillier and we could see the black clouds making a reappearance.We again started dreading the bad weather and hoped to get done with parasailing before the thunderstorms arrived. At 5.30 p.m.,we called our designated pilots to enquire about how much more we need to wait and just at the same moment they showed up on the spot and announced that it was our turn next.
Though all of us were highly excited,but as the time came to sign the declaration,our hearts started thrumming.Now,no matter how much thrilling and electrifying it may seem,jumping from a height of 2430 meters,will surely give you chills and that is what happened with us( I believe me and Priya were having more of a cold feet as compared to others).
After completing all the formalities,we followed our pilots to the launch site. All six of us were assigned one pilot each and soon they started gearing us up for the flight.While all my friends were fully strapped into their respective parachutes,I was the only one standing with my parachute safely piled up next to my feet(as my pilot suddenly decided to disappear). 😛 And,being the only one devoid of the harness,I had to move around and click my friend’s pictures.
Gradually, all the pilots moved to one corner and started discussing in hushed voices and me and my saddled friends(so glad I was not wearing the parachute at this time) were surveying them with puppy faces.After a while,one of the pilots came back and informed us that the gliding cannot take place as the weather conditions were not favourable and it might start raining anytime.
All hell broke loose as we realised that we won’t be able to experience the thrill of paragliding for which we had been waiting since the day we planned the trip. 🙁 We still stayed back for another half an hour in the hope that the weather would clear but then decided to make a move as we had to visit the “Palampur monastery”.
It felt just like the “successful failed expedition of Apollo 13 to the moon”, failed because we missed the experience for a matter of few hours,but successful because paragliding or no paragliding,the time we spent added many more treasured moments to our “bucket of memories”.
On our way back we visited the beautiful Palampur monastery,which is just next to the landing site.As soon as we reached there,on cue it started raining(with sleet showers) and after roaming around for a while,we headed to our next destination,”Bhuntar”.
Stay tuned to know about further happenings from Day 3 of the “Himachal Trip”.Till then enjoy the pictures from Day 2. See you in the next blog . 😉