Fighting with my fears with Paragliding: My Dharamshala Diaries

paragliding bir billing holiday iq


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Bravery isn’t about not getting afraid. It’s getting back on your feet after being afraid.”

— A fellow blogger Mr. Rakesh Pandey from the Tales of the Opal Moon fame rightly said when I had shared the itinerary of my recent travel. And I totally second his thoughts, as being scared is pretty normal but facing that fear and being able to combat it and strike back, is victory. 🙂

There’s one such opportunity I received from India’s largest travel community Holiday IQ & Nokia Mobile in my last adventure trip where I participated in a paragliding activity in the national capital of paragliding, Bir Billing. I was fortunate enough to be selected as the only traveler from all across India who got to witness an out-of-the-world experience spread over 3 days in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.

Located in the upper reaches of the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is placed at an average altitude of 1,475 meters above sea level. I got to hand-on the all new Nokia 8 with which I have recorded my special moments around all the activities happening in the city throughout the 3 days using the ‘bothie’ camera feature of the device. Also, known as the ‘Dual sight mode’ (using both the front and the rear cam), it not only helped me to capture what’s all happening in and around me, but also I could record my candid reactions to the situations simultaneously in a single frame.

Day 1: Touchdown Dharamshala + Monastery Visit + Shopping

My journey began from Delhi airport T3 terminal in an Air India flight that landed on the Gaggal airport Dharamshala at 1 pm on 11th Oct, 2017.


The weather was pretty pleasant during the afternoon and used to a get bit chilly over due course of the day. I was then escorted for lunch in Palampur followed by visiting a couple of eminent Buddhist temples and monasteries, what Dharamshala is the most famous for. On reaching a bit late for paragliding at Bir, I missed it by a close shave and what I could do, was to witness the piousness of the Tsering Jong Monastery.


Namgyal Monastery dharamshala

And how could we miss on the Namgyal Monastery, the home of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. It is located amidst the lush forests of pines, oaks and cedars, and surrounded by the Dhauladhar Range and Tibetan market. The sacred building comprises of a Tibetan museum, a cafeteria, a book shop and a library.

Beautifully decorated prayer wheels and Buddhist shrines were the highlight of the monastery. The serene ambiance fascinated me so much so that I was brimming with spirituality and tranquility while experiencing the grandeur of the imposing figures of Budhha designed in the Tibetan style of architecture.

If you are looking out for meditation, culture, calm and peace, the monasteries of Dharamshala are a must visit.

To wrap up the day on some convivial note, what could be better than the shopping therapy! The flee-markets of Macleod streets were flooded with Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas, Tibetan carpets, garments and other souvenirs. What I personally felt was that Mcleodganj is a great place to buy some specific stuff provided you are good enough at bargaining, because the stuff is overpriced at most of the shops.  However, materials for Meditation,Yoga,  designer woolens, Kullu shawls, stone studded jewellery, and some handmade musical instruments are the U.S.P of street shopping in Mcleodganj Market and you ought to try those.

 

Later on, we drove back to Macleodganj where I spent the night at the D’s Casa Hotel.
D’s Casa Hotel, mcleodganj

Day 2: Paragliding + Club Hopping

Day 2— Woah! Paragliding! Sounded like a dream! Yes it did! Being an avid travel enthusiast, I keep on touring throughout the country from time to time. But being part of a hard-core adventure activity like paragliding was for the first time indeed.

Doing it for the first time, my heartbeat was really up and I had no clue what’s gonna happen next. A few of my friends who’d known people having done the activity suggested me ‘n’ different things to keep in mind while in air— some told me to shut my eyes throughout the flight, few said “never dare to look down” while others asked me to keep myself constantly busy talking to the instructor, and what not! But, when the moment arrived, I somehow chucked everything and decided to let it go in the flow naturally to sense where do I stand exactly.

 

After all the harnessing and instructions from the guy leading me, we were all geared to take off. It was a mere 4, 5 steps jog descending from the peak towards the ditch and I suddenly realized my feet swinging in the air. Aah! What a surreal feeling that was! And within seconds, I was all gliding in the air like a free-bird with aspirations beyond imagination where even sky wasn’t the limit.

 

I could actually feel a silent communication with the supreme superpower— the cool of the clouds caressing my shivering sheath, the chirps of the birds vivaciously echoing in my eardrums, the gushing wind embracing my sun-kissed face, the tickling sun rays playing peek-a-boo-with my nonchalant smile and my long locks bouncing with nature’s fury….  Yes! In those 15 minutes I witnessed the ultimate salvation of my soul. :’)

 

And what I could figure out about myself is that I am certainly not an acrophobic. I kept looking down and laughing and who says its crash… well it was a perfectly smooth landing with a slight jerk but no hurt. I had come down completely evolved as a person who had confidently conquered what most people fear about it. Indeed it was a one-of-a-kind experience and my joy knew no bounds as I got to do the paragliding activity twice. Yes, you heard that right! I took another flight, a 30-minute’s one next time and emerged victorious in the second attempt too. Aah! I had the time of my life! 😀

And to de-stress after a grueling day at Bir, I headed towards the McLlo Restaurant, near our hotel in McLeod Ganj. I sang and danced my heart out whole night which was pepped up with my very own performance jamming with the artists of the evening. 😀

Day 3: Bhagsu Waterfall, Heading back home

Day 3 was marked by a sumptuous breakfast at D’s Casa following which I proceeded towards one of the most beautiful streams in the destination, Bhagsu Waterfall. Situated close to Bhagsunath Temple, the waterfall has a cascade of 30 ft during monsoons. While I walked and walked towards the cliff to witness the wuthering waterfall, it was seemingly more of a small trekking experience with an array of stepping stones.


Bhagsu waterfall dharamshala macleoganj
It was a steep climb up the mountain, while honestly, halfway through the climb I felt like stopping. However, after relishing those little tea stalls along the way, I gave it a final push which was worth it, and at the top, I was left overjoyed with the fresh water spring.


The best part was a further walk upwards towards the Shiva Cafe where there was food, music and a small pool. The entire ambiance was decorated with slate graffiti while the mountain side of the fall, another highlight of the spot. And the café did offer a beautiful and a mind bender for the adventure seeker in me.


And like every fairy-tale has a happy ending, my thrilling three days journey of Dharamhala full of fun and frolic was concluded and I bid adieu to the breathtakingly beautiful destination with memories to be cherished for a lifetime. And with this hell of an experience, I have come back stronger, wiser and a better version of myself.

  • Rajeev Moothedath

    Oh such a delightful post! If we have so much fun just watching and reading how much fun you would have had experiencing it! Kudos to you for accepting challenges and living life to the lees!

  • Purba Chakraborty

    It was amazing reading about your trip to Dharamshala dear. So good to know that you enjoyed paragliding at Bir Biling. Stunning pictures 🙂

  • Jayanthi Parthasarathy

    I had seen some of the pics on IG – too good – once in a lifetime experience

  • Aishwarya P Krishnammachary

    such a lovely experience <3
    wish I could do it

  • Jyotirmoy Sarkar

    Now i know(We all know) how do you make prayer, how do you react when you listen any stage performance.

    Was waiting for this post from the time i have come to know about your visit to Dharmashala through your twitter post,Now a days when i come to know that you have been selected for any big event i dont become surprise it has become a daily incident of your life…you deserve it.
    Good to know about the Bothie camera feature of the phone,Its not an easy task to continue recording while gliding.
    It was really an amazing read.

  • Great captures! It becomes even more fun when you conquer your fears to achieve something that you always wanted to do

  • Hiral Amodia

    Wow!! It was fun to travel Dharamshala through your post! I am still too scared with paragliding! You have been really brave with it!!

  • Whoa! What a trip! Weren’t you scared! Excellent captures from your trip.

  • It was nice reading about your trip to Dharamshala and seeing the pictures. But I couldn’t play the videos. 🙁
    Good job on the Paragliding, Maithreni. 🙂

  • Great to read. Awesome post and pics. Thanks for all videos,
    Best wishes.