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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Hot flight on cards to boost tourism in capital
- Government plans to organise balloon festival after monsoon; event to be held at diara near Darbhanga House

The skies of Patna would be dotted with colourful playthings this winter with the tourism department planning a hot-air balloon festival.

Sources in the tourism department said the first-of-its-kind event would be held either in November or December. Tenders inviting persons and firms with experience in operating hot-air balloon have been floated.

“Things are still in the preliminary stage now. The state plans to organise its first hot-air balloon festival just after the monsoon, either in November or December. It would be a three-day-long event. A tender inviting people and experts has been floated. The department is sure that many teams will turn up and there will be a competition among bidders,” a tourism department official told The Telegraph.

He added: “The tenders were issued on Tuesday. We want to give it some time before they responses start pouring in.”

In January this year, the state capital had hosted a two-day-long kite festival at the Sabbalpur diara on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had inaugurated the festival, which had attracted many professional kite fliers from different parts of the country as well a large audience. Some of the kite fliers who had come to the festival had international experience as well.

The tourism department wants to repeat the success of the kite festival with the balloon event.

The official said the hot-air balloon festival would be held at the diara near Darbhanga House, where classes of Patna University postgraduate courses are held.

He added: “The department inspected several sites. There were talks about hosting the event at the Sabbalpur diara area near Gandhi Ghat. But now, it has been decided that the event will be organised at the diara near the Darbhanga House.”

A sources in the department said the department had earlier planned to organise the festival in October.

“But things got delayed a bit. Such events will showcase Bihar as a major tourism hub and people would be to it,” said the source.

He added: “The monsoon this year was uneven. We want to host the festival at such a time when the weather is good and people can come to enjoy it. The tourism department is making all efforts to ensure that it is a success.”

Asked if visitors to the festival would be allowed to take a ride in the balloons, the source said it all depended on the firms that take part. “Such a facility might be available for the visitors but nothing has been decided on it yet,” said the source.

The tourism department official said: “More details about the festival would be released later. The department will fix on an exact date soon. We are sure that the festival will attract a lot of people.”

Balloon festivals are popular all over India and the world. The most famous one in India is held during Pushkar Mela in Ajmer, Rajasthan. The Balloon Parade Day of Brussels, Belgium held in September is also very famous.