Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tourism      Adventure Sports      Paragliding      Maharashtra     Pune    


Place : Kamshet,Pune, Maharashtra
Best time for gliding : October to June
Best Suitable for : Basic, Intermediate and 'cross country' flights
Facilities : Tandem Flights (accompanied Flights) or Joy rides, Five day beginners course available
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Kamshet, a sleepy village along the Mumbai-Pune Highway #4, 16 km east of Lonavala has developed into one of the sought after Paragliding destination in Maharashtra with its perfect flying conditions. The picturesque hills of the Western Ghats which run along the west coast of India from Gujarat in the north through Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka to the Nilgiri hills of Kerala in the southern tip, locally known as the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, offer many sites such as Kamshet, Satara, Talegaon, Deodali, Murud Janjira, Matheran, Panchgani, Singhgad and more with plenty of potential distance wise, suitable for gliding. The western Ghats offer almost a year round destinations than those sites in the Himalayas which are restricted by extreme weather conditions.

Situated in Pune district, Maharashtra; 110km from Mumbai and 56km from Pune, the area in and around Kamshet, with its low hills, rocky terrain and flatlands has scores of favourable sites with enough ridges just right for take off. Kamshet,  2200feet above sea level has perfect flying conditions with cloud base usually over 2000m and reliable thermic cycles ideal for basic, intermediate and cross country flying. Here flying is possible almost every day of the long season from October to June. The topography and temperatures allow for both ridge and thermal soaring. The pleasant weather, lush greenery, the huge pristine lake, the dramatic scenery and the easy accessibility to the place adds to its charm. Historically too, the place holds great significance. While you are there, check out the ancient cave temples at Bedsa located just before Kamshet.  Another thing that strikes you is the presence of ever friendly and supportive villagers.

One of the widely known sites is the 'Tower Hill' just off the highway on the road to Pavna dam. The take off site, on a north south ridge is visible from the highway and is accessed by a 30minute uphill drive and a 10minute walk. The site is larger than a football field rising 250m (700ft) above the valley floor overlooking the highway, the railway track and the Indrayani river. The site offers good launches everyday with the two prevailing winds- from the east face in the morning and from the west face late in the afternoon. One has to look out for high tension cable lines and the highway when launching from the west face. The mountain ridge is excellent for cross country flying with beautiful views of lakes and open fields.  This site hosted the Indian Nationals 2000. 

'Shinde Wadi' is another site just off the highway around 2km from Kamshet town. A gentle sloping hill, take off height is just 100- 200 ft from ground level. Ideal for beginners, this site is best for hops and first solo flights. Historically this site holds significance as there is a saying that this is the place where in a battle between the British and the Marathas, Madhavrao Shinde's soldiers fired a cannon from the top of the hill and blew the head off the leader of the advancing British Battalion. Here Village kids always keep company to the fliers. 

'Temple Hill' situated at Talegaon- Bhandar Dongar 22 km ahead of Kamshet on the road to Pune was once host to the famous ' Temple Hill Hang Gliding Trophy'.  An old favourite for hang gliding, this is an excellent site for paragliding as well especially for beginners, with a gentle slope ending in a very clear landing zone. The site gets its name from the medieval temple of Saint Thukaram located here. It is mostly flyable in the mornings and if the winds holds out, up to late afternoon. The site is drivable to the take off point.

'Shelar' is another site 8 km from the highway, a north south ridge about a mile long with a wide take off at 175feet above ground level. This quiet L- shaped ridge free from power cables for miles around, is suitable for training and intermediate flying with perfect conditions for soaring and thermalling. There is usually a reliable lift that will easily carry one to 200-600m above launch. Best for long hours of evening flying with the vultures and eagles, from December to June. The take off point is reachable by a 10 minute walk uphill. 

'Kondeshwar Cliff' is another site 15-20km off the highway from Kamshet town near the two monsoonal waterfalls. The take off height is 2200ft above ground level on a north south ridge suitable for advanced pilots. The ridge takes on the Westerlies wind coming from the Arabian sea, 70km away. The slopes of these hills are thickly forested but there is a clear landing area in the fields below. The site is drivable to the take off.

Very light and airy clothing is suitable as the temperature tends to be warm. Wide hat, light weight hiking or flying shoes, Sun glasses and sunscreen etc will be fine.