Up, up and away!

Metroscan, Pune
Pune : December 2004

Nirvana Shows you how to soar, or simply soak in the serenity, says NIKHIL ROSHAN

Every kid (and adult too!) fantasizes about flying; simply free flying, like our feathered friends. Imagine the thrill of being wafted along by the wind, over the whole world far down below. Nirvana Adventures, a paragliding outfit, invites you to act out your fantasy, with the exhilarating experience of free flying in the open skies, over the lush landscape of Kamshet. Nirvana was founded by Sanjay Rao seven years ago, when he was first hooked by the experience of paragliding. He, his wife Astrid, and friends, worked hard and enthusiastically to develop Kamshet (60 km from Pune and 110 km from Mumbai) into the perfect paragliding destination.

Paragliding is different from hang-gliding. It is done with a sort of modified parachute, which is collapsible, unlike the hang-glider. For those who want just a one-time experience, without having to train, Nirvana offers 'tandem rides' - you glide with an instructor. For those who would like to pursue paragliding seriously, Nirvana offers various levels of training. It follows the operating procedures and pilot ratings set down by the United States Hang-Gliding Association.

"When we began, we had very few students and there wasn't much money flowing in. We couldn't afford to advertise; so publicity was mostly by word of mouth," Sanjay reminisces about the time when they ventured out into this unknown territory. Today, Nirvana draws gliders from all over the world. And, though paragliding remains the primary attraction, the Raos offer much more. They believe in providing an open and natural environment to visitors who seek a haven away from the hectic pace of their city life. Native Place, their home-cum-guesthouse on the banks of the Kamshet Lake, has rooms for guests and dorms for students. Built at different levels so as not to disturb the natural contours of the landscape, the house is surrounded by a gorgeous garden. There's a heavenly view of the still lake from the terraces.

"We wanted it to be a place where people could have a carefree, laid-back vacation," says Astrid, the creative spirit behind the little sanctuary they call home. What is most pleasing about this place is its informal atmosphere. After a long day of adventure, everyone gets together for evening chats and sometimes barbeques too. Guests are most welcome to participate in the cooking. "New recipes are shared and tried, especially when we have people from all over the world coming here!" says Sanjay. To top it all, there's great music playing all the time.

Nirvana also hosts various teambuilding exercises and outdoor activities for corporates. Besides providing an unforgettable introduction to flying, it's the perfect getaway if you love the freedom of the great outdoors.

Peace bliss