ANAND MOHAN and Photographer PEYUSH BARANWAL of Evo India share their experience of Paragliding with Adventure zone and test driving TATA Nexon AMT in Sikkim. In pursuit of adventure, they visit the most adventurous state in the North East- Sikkim.
EXCERPTS FROM THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN EVO INDIA (October 2018)
Anyway, I wanted to see the Kanchenjunga up close so we drove up north for a couple of hours and teamed up with the guys from Adventure Zone Sikkim to get on with the exciting part of this trip. “Jump off the mountain even if the wind pushes you back,” the first piece of advice I got from Sukra, a 24 year old boy with a bag as big as him on his back. He had to hold on to our glider for longer than expected as we waited all morning for the wind to flow against our flight direction. I hoped the clouds would clear by then. To our west is the Kanchenjunga, India s tallest mountain peak on the border with Nepal. It s the third highest peak in the world at 8,586 metres above sea level after Mt Everest and K2 and on a clear day, you can see the magnificent snowcapped range towering over the lower Himalayan mountains. At least from the road by the side of the mountain, the Kanchenjunga wasn’t visible and we had come with the plan to get at least a glimpse of it so we decided to get some more altitude under our feet. I tandem jumped with an open glider off the mountain at about 7,000 feet, and we climbed a few hundred feet higher as the wind pulled us up. It wasn’t high enough to see above the clouds and the Kanchenjunga eluded us, but in the process, I might have discovered the adventure sport everyone must try their hands on. Paragliding happens at many locations around the country, famously in Bir Billing in Himachal and over small western range mountains in Maharashtra, but one of the highest spots you can find are in Sikkim.
Pine trees are usually found only where it snows and from where we caught air, we were looking at Pine trees under our feet. You know when you take the flight to Leh, you fly so close over the majestic Himalayas that you wish that small visual barrier of the scratchy airline window didn’t exist for a moment, that you and the Himalayas existed in one frame with nothing in between. The Himalayas stretch all the way to the Northeast and I just saw that barrier removed. Just the snowcapped Kanchenjunga hidden behind clouds and thin air between us. The flight of about 45 minutes is one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had in my life and I can only imagine doing this jump in December with a white landscape underneath. The landscape changes quickly as we descend down the mountain and the pine trees are left up the mountain as wider open spaces appear. We spot a football field in Gangtok and land with such light feet, I’m barely able to stand once the glider strings are off. There is plenty of adventure to seek out in Sikkim and we accidentally found the best one.
THERE IS PLENTY OF ADVENTURE TO SEEK OUT IN SIKKIM AND WE ACCIDENTALLY FOUND THE BEST ONE
Peyush, our photographer picked the short straw so he had to take pictures from the ground and pick us up from the landing spot. Apple CarPlay synced to the Harman entertainment system of the Nexon, he was happy too. We probably didn’t realise how easy the trip had been till the flight ended. The roads were twisty and broken in parts and we were always chasing time to get to Sikkim, then to the paragliding spot, and then for the return flight from Bagdogra. Not once did the Nexon skip a beat. It hustled when we needed it to, isolated us from the outside with the supple ride and entertained us with the quality music system. Most of the time, we drove in the first three gears and yet the Nexon returned a respectable 14kmpl on this trip. It also got us to soar the sky, with the gliding equipment in its boot, our entire photo and video equipment and three large occupants up a dirt road. I don’t think I can ask more from a car when it has delivered so much already. And I don’t think we can ask for a more beautiful state with more fascinating adventures (from the sky!) than what Sikkim has to offer.
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