It’s only when you’re flying above it that you realize how incredible the earth really is.” - Philippe Perrin
Vagamon, an exquisite hill station on the Kottayam-Idukki border in Kerala, is prominent for its rich and lustrous greenery. What if you get to experience a stunning aerial view of the same? As Philip Perrin rightly said you would get to know how incredible the earth is and I assure you it would be a moment you wouldn’t trade for anything in the world; high up in the air, amazed by the Creation as well as the Creator.
When you pass by the rolling hills of Vagamon, you can find giant kites flying in the sky. In fact, they are not kites; they are a bunch of young pilots paragliding up in the air. The colorful gliders are flying all over the sky, adds on to the beauty and thrill. Paragliding is an adventure sport, a trained technical activity where experienced professionals use their expertise in gliding up in the air and exploring all across the sky. Vagamon is the only place in south India where mountain paragliding is possible. Beach paragliding is possible at Varkala which is a beach cliff. The Eastern winds hit the mountain ranges and form a dynamic wind column and in some places patterns of thermal wind columns. It is through these wind columns that paragliders go up in the air and witness the beauty of the Western Ghats. We did this paragliding activity in March 2018 where we got to know about paragliding and went all the way to Vagamon to experience a slice of adventure in the sky.
A group of flying enthusiasts runs, the show organized by ‘Fly Vagamon’ which is the only paragliding operator in Kerala. It is more of a nonmotorized natural process of lifting ourselves up in the sky with the help of wind columns and pressure. The best time to do this activity is from October to May. But irrespective of season, if there are wind and good weather conditions, they can fly up in the air. These paragliding enthusiasts take visitors in tandems up in the air giving them a bird’s eye view of the ravishing Western Ghats. Before flying, they give you a brief idea as to how you should equip yourself and also the best practices to be followed to have a safe flight. All this training will last up to 10 minutes. Then you will be given the gear, and they will clip the essential gears all across your body. Once they hook you into a paraglide you are ready to fly.
It’s not just about the beauty and the thrill; it is also about overcoming your fears and discovering a whole new perspective. All you got to do is go all the way to Vagamon, sign up for this activity and fly up in the air. The process is not complicated, but it takes courage to lift yourself willingly up and then enjoys the flight. For some people it is adventurous, for some it might be thrilling while for some others it might be about overcoming fears. Whatever be the reason, when you go back, you will have a beautiful experience engraved in your heart.
Fly Vagamon mostly operates from October to May. However, based on the weather conditions they decide whether to fly or not. Being the case there is no option of booking, and all you need to do is check with them about the weather on the phone and reach the place all set to fly. There is this cliff called paragliding viewpoint in Vagamon which is the base camp for flying. As per the pressure and wind conditions, the lift of the glides catches up with the wind. The possibilities are infinite. You can even go cross country based on the weather conditions. The activity lasts for about 15 – 20 minutes based on your capabilities and capacities. It is more kind of swinging and gliding up in the air and people who are prone to motion sickness will not find it great as they progress. Jeneya, my wife had a great time experiencing almost half an hour in the air and found it to be amazing. At the same time, I had to land back after 15 minutes of flying. It was too much of swinging for me. I was feeling nauseous, and so I directed my pilot to get back to the base. Jenya's experience was impressive as they went high in the sky soaring through the rain clouds and feeling as cold as in a refrigerator. The 360-degree view is amazing. Mountains after mountains, rolling hills, the lush green forests, everything leaves you wanting to be in that moment forever where you are away from the worries of life and just lost in the beauty and serenity of that moment. That moment up there would be captured in your minds forever. Indeed, Nature is Gods art work. Words go superfluous to describe the beauty and the feeling that you experience when you are up in the sky. They help you in getting footages with a Go Pro camera which is chargeable, and you can pay for it accordingly at the time of settling the cash.
The star of the show, however, are the winds. If they decide not to visit the place, all the paragliding activity has to come to a standstill as paragliding is impossible without the winds. The Kerala Tourism Board used to organize a Paragliding Fest where gliders from across the country and from international destinations come to Vagamon to do their set of adventure in the sky. The last Paragliding Fest was done in mid-January and was extended up to a month.
The cost is very reasonable when compared to the kind of experience you get here. You can always call up or check their website to know the latest updated prices for half an hour of flying up in the air. Earlier they used to conduct training sessions and introductory courses to paragliding. However, in recent times they are unable to perform training sessions due to technical issues.
To sum up, I would say if you have a spirit of adventure and if you would like to experience some of the most picturesque 360-degree views of the Western Ghats. You should be coming down to do paragliding in the hills of Vagamon. They close down just before the monsoons. We have made a video of our experience, paragliding in Vagamon. It will give you an idea of how people paraglide and the whole process. We did this video in Malayalam. Subtitles are available for those who are not familiar with the language. Enjoy watching it and the next time you come to Kerala, don’t forget to visit Vagamon because there are enough and more things out there to enjoy. Hope you found this blog interesting. Do follow us on social media, Facebook and Instagram. Thank you so much for reading. Let me end with a quote by Benjamin Mee:“Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage, and I promise something great will come of it. “