Saturday, 5 March 2016

Kullu-Manali to have 6 more paragliding sites

MANALI: Tourist destination Kullu-Manali, which is internationally renowned for adventure sports, may soon become the paragliding hub of the country as six new paragliding sites have been explored by the technical committee of state government.

Paragliding in Solang (File photo)
A technical committee comprising of experts from different fields are carrying out recce of Kullu district and taking test flights to check feasibility of paragliding in various locations of the district. Seven sites have been tested and six of them have technically been given preliminary approval by the committee. The interesting thing is that all the takeoff and landing sites are private lands and the owners want their lands be utilized for the purpose.
Tourism deputy director Rattan Gautam said Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports director Captain Randhir Singh Salhuria is the head of the technical committee while he himself is observing the test flights and all the technical works. “Majhach to Shanag, Majhach to Burua, Niyalag to Pangan, Falayan to Dobhi Bihal, Babeli to Bihal and Talaiti to Talogi test flights have been successful. A test flight in Kothi faced some problems due to high air pressure,” he said.

The committee is now recording the accurate coordinates of the takeoff and landing sites, collecting NOCs and completing paper works. The proposal will be submitted to the state government for final approval. Once approved, Kullu will have multiple paragliding sites and adventure enthusiasts will have many options to choose from basic, moderate or thrilling flights.
Kullu district had first only one authorized paragliding site at Solang near Manali. Paragliding here has been banned by National Green Tribunal since July 6 when it had passed order to ban all commercial activities in the area. Manali is said to be the source of paragliding in the country. Since July 2015, Kullu does not have approved paragliding site which is disappointing adventure enthusiasts and harming the tourism. Once approved, Kullu will again have multiple paragliding site and the region will be developed as paragliding hub of the country.
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cold is not biting in Himachal this winter

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/SHIMLA: Peak winter months of Himachal -- December and January -- have passed but neither the water taps were found frozen nor did the residents feel the biting cold as it used to be earlier. For many, this is one of the pleasant winters they have ever had.
Tourists enjoy skiing after fresh snowfall in Solang near Manali
Unlike previous years, water sources are not freezing in Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie and other hill stations perched in mid-hills of Himachal. The average minimum temperature this year is 3 to 5 degrees Celsius more than that in last year. Accept for few days of December when water taps in Manali and Shimla were found frozen, cold could not put its much impact on the normal living. Water sources in cold deserts of Lahaul-Spiti district, parts of Chamba and Kinnaur are still freezing with cold. Even in Lahaul-Spiti, the coldest district of Himachal, river Chenab didn’t see a thick walk-able layer of ice which was normal sight every winter.
“Icicles hanging from the roof every morning are missing this year. Except for few days of December, we didn’t bother to pour hot water on frozen tap to get the water,” says Mohan Lal Thakur, an octogenarian, who feels real winter was missing this year. “My children were sharing with me that we have saved a lot of fuel wood this year as there was no need of fire all the time.”
Shimla had minimum temperature in positive numbers for most of the days while minimum temperature in Manali could not touch minus 5 degrees Celsius mark. The worse thing is that new green grass is covering the orchards and fields of the state which is not usual for this time of the season. While Manali saw only one good spell of snow so far, Shimla saw three spells of snowfall.
Lal Chand Sharma, a Manali resident, said he has observed that the morning frost is also missing from the region. “A very thin layer of frost can be seen on the cars and roofs. Otherwise a thick layer of ice used to cover roads, pathways, grass, plants and everything,” he adds.
Though less cold could prove disastrous for apple orchards which needs freezing cold for good harvest, but hoteliers claim that this is merry time for tourists who are enjoying the slight cold. A hotelier here complained that tourists are still maintaining a distance from Manali with fear of getting stranded in heavy snowfall.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tourists take wings in snow-covered Solang valley

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: The urge to take wings and fly over the snow-covered pine and deodar forests is drawing hundreds of tourists to Solang valley for paragliding. A beeline of adventure enthusiasts is being witnessed to Solang which is deep under two-foot snow.
The complete white valley is welcoming visitors for paragliding and skiing. The season is for winter sports but paragliding above the snow-covered valley is thrilling tourists the most. Entire valley experienced 30cm of fresh overnight snowfall. A pleasant day on Thursday, with sun playing hide and seek with clouds, offered a good time for adventure lovers who thronged here since early morning.
Tourists enjoy paragliding in Solang Valley
Nearly 40 trained pilots are offering tandem flights to hundreds of tourists who are standing on queues for their turn. Most of the tourists are taking off with their wings on the shoulders for the first time but those who are not new to this game are also flying on snow for the first time. Aneek Gupta from Maharashtra who had already tried hands on paragliding in Kamshet said, “I had never expected that paragliding can be done on snow covered mountains and valleys too. My experience was unforgettable. The only complain is the pilot didn’t allow me to fly at my own saying that he cannot take risk.”
Not only men, but women and children are also enjoying the scenic beauty of Himalayas from the sky. Some paragliders have special arrangements to take photographs by specially designed cameras to make this moment unforgettable. Ridhvi Jain from Delhi adds, “It was icy cold when I was flying. I felt like my tears had turned ice. Mountains, valleys, rivers and snow look completely different from the sky. It’s one of the best things I ever did in my life.”
Roshan Lal, a young paragliding pilot, said among couples paragliding is most desired by women. “Time has changed. Now women are more adventurous than the men. Many time men avoid flying but their female partners insist on jumping off from a mountain face as fast as we can do,” he said. According to him, flying paraglider is totally dependent on the air and their union is taking special care of safety. “Taking off from the icy mountain face is sometime difficult but landing on snow is totally safe. To add to the thrill of the tourists, we land on snow in a way so that both pilot and tourists keep on skidding on it for a while.”
The road towards Rohtang pass has blocked permanently with snow for few months and the entire tourist flow is diverting towards Solang valley. Hovering of the paragliders over the valley is forcing almost all the tourist to try hand for just Rs 700 at least once.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Winter Carnival 2014 kicks off in Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With about 50 tableaus from across the country, escorted by beats of traditional drums and trumpets, showcased their art and culture after taking blessings from Goddess Hadimba temple, set the stage of five-day-long Winter Carnival for colourful programmes on Thursday.
A tableau in Winter Carnival Manali - 2014

 Third national Winter Carnival, which is being celebrated since 1977 with purpose to attract more and more tourists during off-season, drew attention of both tourists and local residents. The cultural processions started from circuit house and ended at Mall Road. Hundreds of tourists thronged both sides of the Mall Road to witness the blend of art, culture and ancient living style of people of Kullu.
In addition to about 40 mahila mandals of Kullu, over 25 cultural troupes from various parts of the country took part in procession. Similar cultural processions of tableaus would come on the road every day for five days. Manu Rangshala, an open air amphitheatre in Manali, will present dancing, singing, talent shows and other hundreds of cultural and entertaining programmes for five days.
Cultural troupe from Assam in Winter Carnival, Manali
Tourists also got to see culture of Maharashtra, Gujarat, MP, Punjab, J&K, Assam and many other states. Women of local mahila mandals depicted the ancient village lifestyle of Kullu and also sent message to save environment, women empowerment besides presenting ancient techniques of agriculture in Kullu.
For the convenience of tourists, large screens have been installed on Mall Road where they can see live performances. To make them feel the taste of local cuisines, which are not cooked in any restaurant, food stalls have been installed by local mahila mandals and self help groups. Tourists also get the glimpse of weaving industry of Kullu.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who inaugurated the carnival, emphasized upon the preservation of the culture and natural beauty of Kullu district to attract more tourists. Years after demand to increase the capacity of Manu Rangshala which has congested due to increasing population, he directed Kullu administration to search for a new land in town where the Rangshala could be relocated. He also declared opening of Hamta pass for tourism activities.
Manali Winter Carnival: Women in traditional Himachal dress
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar who is also the president of the carnival organizing committee said tourists and locals can enjoy folk dances, western dances, fashion shows, singing competitions, laughter shows, winter queen contest and variety of other programmes. “Winter Carnival is a platform to make tourists apprised of the Himachali culture and tradition. All arrangements have been made for their entertainment for five days,” he said.
Kullu superintendent of police Vinod K Dhawan said security has been stepped up in the town and movement of all the people is being recorded in CCTV cameras.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Himachal to get more snow from Saturday

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: High and mid hills of Himachal will get more snow for five days from Saturday as western disturbances lying over north Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are extending the western Himalayas, warns local met office.
Snowfall in Shimla (Pic courtesy: Santosh Rawat)
The entire Himachal is reeling under severe cold waves and both minimum and maximum temperatures decreased by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius in last 24 hours. At minus 8.5 degrees C, Keylong in Lahaul was the coldest inhabited place in Himachal followed by Kalpa in Kinnaur at minus 4.4 and Manali minus 3.6 degrees C. State capital Shimla spent a cold night at 0.2 degrees C. Berthin in Bilaspur was the hottest in the state at 20.5 degrees C.
High hills of Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba received little more snow on Friday. The sky was cloudy in many parts of the state. A press release by Shimla meteorological office stated that isolated areas of Himachal will get more snow from Saturday. “Western disturbances will again be active from December 30 and shower more snow in the state,” it said.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Three skiers and a luge athlete from India qualify for Winter Olympics

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Three skiers and a luge athlete from India have qualified for 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in Sochi in Russia between February 7 and 23, while fifth skier, a girl, is still struggling in Turkey to get herself qualified for the Olympics.
Himanshu, Hira Lal and Anchal in Turkey
Four times Olympian Shiva Keshavan KP from Manali, who has set an Asian speed record at 134.3 km per hour in Asia Cup 2011 at Nagano, Japan in 2011, will be participating in the Olympics for the fifth time. Hira Lal and Himanshu Thakur, both from Manali, have qualified for Olympics in alpine category after getting enough International Ski Federation (FIS) points in Turkey on Thursday, while Nadeem Iqbal from Indian Army from J&K has also qualified for Olympics and will represent country in cross country skiing.
Hira Lal has represented India in 2006 Winter Olympics Turin in Italy. Himanshu has represented India in Junior World Cup 2012 and 2013. It was announced on Thursday in Turkey that both Hira Lal and Himanshu have qualified for Olympics, while, Anchal Thakur, who represented country in 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, is still trying to qualify for the Olympics.
Shiva Keshavan in Manali after setting new Asian Speed Record in luge
“Our young talents were preparing to qualify for Olympics for last three years. Clearing qualifying round, where they had to complete 35 races, is not less than bagging a gold medal,” Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) general secretary Roshan Thakur said. It would be sad that the Olympians will not be playing under the Indian national flag as Indian Olympics Association (IOA) has been suspended by International Olympics Committee (IOC). “The only hope for our athletes to play under the national flag is the elections of IOA which should happen before February 2, 2014. Otherwise they will play under banner of IOC.”
Himanshu, Hira Lal and Anchal had been getting coaching in Japan, New Zealand and many other European countries by spending money from their own pocket. Thakur rues that government was not providing any financial support to the skiers and each of the above skier had to spend about Rs 10 lakh at their own capacity to get this achievement. “Government should encourage its bright skiers and winter games athletes by cash prize and should at least reimburse their expense,” Thakur said.
Keshavan, who won gold medal at the Asia Cup in Japan in 2012 by setting new Asian track record at 49.590 seconds, is the brightest hope of the county to bag its first gold in the Olympics. WGFI vice president Roopu Negi said our skiers are doing great without having international level infrastructure, and if government supports them they can definitely bring India the Olympic medals.
Meanwhile, venue of the National Winter Games February 2014 has been shifted from Manali to Jammu and Kashmir due to weak infrastructure in Manali. Skiers rue that despite they are sweating on the ski slopes, Himachal government was not even improving basic infrastructure of the slopes of the state. Of the total 600 athletes of the country, 40 per cent are alone from Himachal.