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Glider tourism takes off
- Fly over ridge, treeline for Rs 600

Gangtok, Dec. 21: Tourism is growing wings in Sikkim as people seeking a thrill of the wind on them can now soar over trees riding on a paraglider.

Paragliding was launched on a promotional basis by the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim (Taas) earlier this month.

Three local youths, who have been trained in commercial paragliding in Manali, are piloting the flying machines which take off from Ani Gumpa and Thami Dara at Ranka, 15km from here.

“From Ani Gumpa, one can fly for five-ten minutes depending on weather and wind conditions and the ride will be two-three minute long from Thami Dara,” said Chandra Prakash Pradhan, one of the pilots, after dropping four local youths in an open field.

A short burst of speed is enough for a first-timer to gain momentum when he sails over the ridge at Thami Dara and the treeline with the pilot hunched behind him.

The flight then slowly takes a couple of turns some 400ft above the ground and descends into the landing zone safely. The flight is longer when one takes off from Ani Gumpa and the rider can soar 700ft above the ground.

The rate for a ride from Ani Gumpa is Rs 1,000, while it is Rs 600 for the shorter trip from Thami Dara. The suitable time for the sport is September-March when the weather is pleasant and favourable, said Pradhan.

Taas president Lukendra Rasaily said Sikkim had a huge potential for paragliding.

“We have trained three pilots and started promoting this adventure sport through our 250 members. We are in the promotional stage and response has been encouraging so far,” he said.

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