Travelogue
Adventure
Sikkim emerges as a paragliding destination
Sikkim emerges as a paragliding destination
Gangtok, Feb 2 (Not in Town/IBNS) Adventure lovers from different parts of the world are making a beeline for thrilling experiences in Sikkim for adventure holidays in the foot hills of Himalayas .

 An increasing number of foreign visiting paragliding pilots are showing interest to spend their flying holiday in Sikkim. 


The state, which  is fast emerging  as paragliding destination of  the country,  has  turned  into heaven for tourists on  one of the final settlements on the brink of a vast and desolate mountain region, uninhabited apart from  occasional groups of trekkers.

Sikkim  is turning out to be one of the hot spots for the adventure sport in the country due to  excellent launching sites  and ridges, according to a cross-section of paragliders. The state gained   popularity among the paragliding community  after the   successful  organization of first Sikkim Paragliding Festival at  “beautiful flying site"  Bulbuley Dara by Tourism & Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim  in association with Paragliding Association of India [PAI] and Sikkim Paragliding Adventure Sports Co-operative Society Limited in the 2012. 
 
Around 60 Indian and international paragliding pilots  took to the skies  in   various  events like Free Flying event, Spot Landing contest, Acro Show, Tandem Flights etc  during the four days  festival. 

Sikkim emerged  on the  paragliding map  of the country    after state govt sponsored 30  local youths for basic paragliding training  in  Manali in Himachal Pradesh in 2008  under   "Chief Minister Self Employment and Capacity Building Program"  to promote adventures tourism in big way in the state .
 
Then after formation of "Sikkim Paragliding Adventure Sports Cooperative Society"  in year 2010,the Organization conducted the intermediate and advance training of the pilots at Bir/Billing( Himachal Pradesh), Kamshet(Pune) and Pokhara(Nepal), with certified schools and Instructors 

 At present the state has more than 35  qualified  commercial pilots who are conducting paragliding sessions in the backdrop of mountain ranges in  its three  paragliding sites at  Bulbuley dara , Ranka ,Chakung.
 
 Four  Sikkimese paragliding pilots  have already  participated in international level events  like Nepal Open Championship, and Himalayan Open Championship which  played an instrumental role in promoting Sikkim as the preferred venue at international level. 
 
Sikkimese paragliding pilots are also providing training and  technical expertise at various other places of north eastern states  to  promote the adventures sports in entire  north eastern  region . 
 
At present around 100 youth is associated with the paragliding events which generates annual economic  activities  of around  one crore in a year .The state govt plans to actively associate around 500 youths with the paragliding sports by  developing   two more modern  paragliding sites at Yumthang  and Soren with latest world class facilities  by spending Rs 10 crore during  the 12th five year plans.
 
The state government has planned to develop at least two paragliding sites with latest safety ,medical and infrastructural facilities  at each district of the state by 2020 to  attract the international tourists  to  new areas said Sikkim Chief Minister Sh Pawan Chamling  

The various para gliding associations registered with department of tourism are providing Tandom , High Fly, Medium fly flight services of different durations   from various sites on reasonable rates .

The state has  registered  6000 paragliding tourists in last three  years. The state registered only 500 paragliding tourist during first year and its number increased steadily each year .The state has set target to attract  5000 paragliding tourist each year  by  2020 by creating modern facilities.
 
The state government aims to generate annual  economic activities  of  Rs 10 crore from paragliding events by  2020, said Sikkim Tourism Minister  Bhim Prasad Dhungel. 

The state  s planning to   expand and beautify the existing takeoff at Bulbuley dara and Chakung, so that the carrying capacity of the takeoff increases, as the number of Sikkimese pilots is increasing and numbers of tourist coming to fly is on the rise.

  Paragliding services in the state are also being diversified  after the Sikkim Paragliding Festival  and a  new  hike and fly route in West Sikkim has been established . A new paragliding route  from Phoktey dara(Nepal/India) border and  Dentam.has also been identified . 

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