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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Adventure sports comes of age in Uttarakhand

Arpita Kala, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 05, 2014
First Published: 17:57 IST(5/2/2014) | Last Updated: 18:04 IST(5/2/2014)

Want to feel like your heart is going to fly right out of your chest? Or better still, do you want to fly with no wings? No, we’re not asking you to fall in love. To feel all this and more, push your boundaries to the max and take the plunge, literally. Bungee jumping is not just a casual fling, it’s a lifelong affair. Adventure tourism in India was restricted to the good ol’ white water rafting and mountaineering in Rishikesh few years ago. But now, you don’t have to rush abroad to cross bungee jumping off your bucket list. Just head to Mohan Chhati near Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, to jump from the highest bungee platform in the country. With trained jump masters, who’ve safely carried out more than 10,000 jumps till now, be assured you won’t be up in the air unsupervised.

Bungee jump? yeah!
The idea of jumping with an elastic chord for company, from an 83 metre-high suspended platform over river Hiual, doesn’t sound so daunting at first. And, the journey to the epicentre of extreme adventure is a pleasant distraction. You can reach the location on bike while taking in the beautiful Himalayan terrain and fresh air, though taxis and buses are also readily available.

To jump or not
The beautiful river and sunshine make it easy to lose sight of the task ahead. For me, the realisation sunk in just when I was being strapped up into the safety gear. It is natural to break into a cold sweat when you look down and can’t tell the security staff on land from the tiny pebbles on the riverside. “Even after having bungee-jumped umpteen times, I still feel scared. Don’t think about anything, just jump,” jump master Marc Leblanc advised me on the platform. The jump masters have a ‘no-push’ policy, which means that you have to take the plunge of your own accord. Basically, bungee jumping is like meditation for adrenalin junkies, it’s best to clear your mind and… jump!

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/2/extreme-sports.jpg

Whoa …
For a split second you will be at a standstill in air, the drama begins when mother Earth’s gravitational pull grabs you into her bosom with such force, you will be at a loss of emotions. From shrieking like a banshee, to laughing like a hyena and the fright of freefalling are just the surface of the emotions you’ll feel. Indulge in them uninhibitedly; nobody can see you pulling faces mid-air anyway. The entire experience lasts a few seconds, but will stay with you forever. My favourite part — when your feet land on the ground, your mind screams on repeat — WTF Just happened?! And the ‘I Got Guts’ badge, given post-jump, is no less than a Nobel Prize. The only downside is that now you’ve created a monster — the need to feel the adrenalin rush again is irresistible, and you may find yourself strapped in the safety gear, ready to jump year after year.

Disclaimer: The writer’s travel and stay for the purpose of this story was sponsored by Jumpin Heights, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Quick facts
Height: 83 metres
Location: Mohan Chhati; about 15 km from Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh

Avoid if...
You have a weak medical history or are suffering from health issues pertaining to the heart, back etc.

Cheap thrills
Entry ticket: Rs. 100 per person
For the three-in-one package (that includes Bungee Jumping, Flying Fox and Giant Rope Swing): Rs. 5,000 per person
Individual activities: Rs. 2,500 each

Fact file
The safety standards followed by the organisers correspond with those in Australia and New Zealand.

You can avail a 20% discount at the adventure hub (the brain child of three ex-army officers), if you visit during the Bungy Week, that kickstarts on Army Day (Jan 15), to honour the spirit of the Indian Army.

If bungee jumping is not your cup of tea, get your dose of adrenalin rush from Asia’s longest Flying Fox and Giant Rope Swing activities, also available at the location.

Getting around
Get there: By road — Volvo and Uttarakhand Roadways buses leave from ISBT, Kashmere Gate at regular intervals.By train — Uttaranchal Express, Jan Shatabdi, Mussoorie Express are the usual choices.

Stay: Take your pick from any of the medium and low range hotel options, available near the Laxman Jhula. Autos and buses to the adventure location are easily accessible from here.

Food: Vegetarian fare is a mainstay here. A visit to the Little Buddha Cafe and the many bakeries near the Laxman Jhula, is a must.


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