Late autumn we decided we wanted to go paragliding somewhere warm during the winter season. We ended up booking 2 weeks at Nirvana Adventures to sample the flying in central India. During January it is the dry season, with virtually no cloud cover, and temperatures just above 30 during daytime and nighttime lows around 15 degrees. Surprisingly, people here call this the 'winter season'. We failed to suppress a snigger every time someone would scuttle off to get a warm garment against the 'cold'. It turns out that, apart from reliable sunshine, the wind is also (relatively) reliable.
Even though our stay coincided with the wind patterns changing, we still managed to fly virtually every day. Flying here is mainly dynamic, so be prepared to start in strong conditions. You'll also find that everyone is keen to show you the reverse launch technique with big ears already applied, for when conditions get really windy. Luckily we did not need to revert to this technique while we were there.
The flying took place at 2 different sites; Tower Hill and Shelar. The latter is a special experience. You fly the west face of a 3-4 km long tabletop mountain, 300 meters high, with some nice vertical walls. You walk some 50 meters up to the start, and then soar up the rest. With the westerly wind picking up early afternoon, this usually meant for flying several hours and watching the sun go down while still in the air.
On landing you are then mobbed by the local kids, who will first comment on your landing (‘Good landing!’) and then you have to make the tough decision who will be allowed to pack your glider, in return for 10 Rupees.
With Tower Hill we did not have too much luck, which was probably due to the wind pattern changeover, but it is an excellent parawaiting site. Due to the volcanic nature of the whole area, you can find a lot of quartz-based minerals, but only Tower Hill has football-sized boulders of the stuff. A decent pointed-tip geological rock pick would be a good addition to your flying kit here.
Transportation to the flying sites is included in the package. Even though there can be a mix of experienced pilots and students staying at the guesthouse, they will hire an extra vehicle if necessary to get visiting pilots to the most promising site if it happens to be somewhere they can’t take the novice students. Usually one of the instructors would join in and function as a wind dummy.
The accommodation overlooks the lake and is a brand new, purpose-designed guesthouse where you’ll immediately feel at home. The central part of the house is around the kitchen and dining area, where most people would hang out. Alternatively you can head up to the roof terrace overlooking the lake, laze around in the hammock or have a beer on the porch overlooking the garden.
The food is truly excellent, prepared by Pushkar, who virtually lives in the kitchen. During the weekend, when the courses would pick up and pilots from Bombay come over, you could have a dozen or so people staying at the house and things can get pretty lively.
It’s a cool bunch that makes up the Kamshet flying crowd, which really adds to the experience of flying here. We were warned for a culture shock visiting India, but you may well find that it is only on return back home that it hits you.