The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has attracted many tourists from all over the globe with its scenic beauty since years. Along with beauty, the UT has also attracted visitors for outdoor activities like mountain climbing, rafting, horse riding among others.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, all the sectors are struggling and the economy of the UT is also going down. To give a boost to the the economy and attract more visitors to J&K, paragliding introduced by Tourism Department of J&K in Sanasar can be of much use. The paragliding in Sanasar takes place from May to June and then from September to October.
The J&K Tourism Department introduced the paragliding activity after its successful trials. The resort from where the paragliding will take place is 19 km from Patnitop. According to the officials “paragliding will be one of the main sports activities that will attract thousands of people to come to J&k. Para Gliding will take you to the magical wheel in the beautiful valleys and mountains of the Himalayas. It is the best and safest way to reach the sky. Sanasar is one of the best spots where you can enjoy paragliding. Proper paragliding camps will be set-up in J&K. One can also enjoy paragliding in Batote, which is 125 km away from Jammu. The paragliding equipment will be available at the tourism office and Jammu and other local agencies in J&K”.
Paragliding trials by the department were conducted under the supervision of Adventure wing. The first paragliding flight was Tandem Paraglider Pilot Sunil Kumar along with a member of the Paragliding Association of India Sunil Kumar Rana. The take-off point was 19 km away from Jammu at Aitham whereas the landing point was 15 km away from Jammu at the sand bed of the Sardhan river. The duration of the flight was 4 minutes and the landing point is easily accessible by road. The Tourism Department of J&K is waiting for the NOC and other permission to begin the paragliding in UT. The approval of the artificial climbing wall and paragliding activities at Sanasar will boost the tourism sector in J&K.
A team of 3 paragliders from Himachal came to study the feasibility of paragliding in Siara in Bani, Aitham village in Sanasar, and Katra in Reasi earlier. Due to the unfavorable weather conditions in Bani the trials didn’t take place while in Aitham the trials were successful. The technical team which came for the survey of paragliding was headed by Jyoti Thakur, one of the best paragliding pilots in the country. Rakesh Koul and Amar Pal Singh, Instructors from the Adventure wing of the tourism department were also part of the team. For Siara the trials were conducted again and this time the authorities gave a thumbs-up.
Siara has a greater elevation difference from Bir Billing and has more flight distance which will bring Jammu on the top of the tourism map. The take-off point in Siara is proposed at a height of 6150ft AMSL, while the landing point at Hutt Mashka is situated at 1850 ft AMSL. The total flight distance between the take-off and landing point is 4.55 km while the flight distance at Bir Billing is 4 km. The Tourism Department has approved both the locations for professional and commercial operations. According to the Tourism Department official, more sites are being looked for adventure activities in Jammu.
Some of the few places where you can enjoy paragliding in Jammu is Chountra Mata. Located at the North-west of Jammu Chountra Mata is situated along the Dhar road. It is 25 km from Mansar. After spending some time at the religious place one could enjoy a 10- minute flight from the same. The other place on the list is Pingala Mata. Situated on the same line as Chountra Mata, every year millions of people visit this holy place and also enjoy the paragliding activity. The third place in this list is Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. 23 km from Mansar this location has already made its name in the hearts of people. A person can enjoy a 10-minute paragliding flight from here. The fourth place in the list is Bhaderwah. One of the most underrated tourist destinations Bhaderwah is known for its excellent locations for Paragliding. The place is easily accessible and has well-constructed roads.
The government of J&K should make paragliding a sustainable tourist attraction and proper paragliding training institutes should be set-up in J&K. The paragliding trials are being conducted for the last two years but still, the government has not issued NOC for many places. It is a high time when the government should look into the matter as the tourism sector is already in its worst phase. Setting up paragliding in Jammu will not contribute to the economy of the state but it will also generate employment in the UT.