Friday, May 13, 2016

Trekking from Raj-Gundha to Biling - A World Paragliding Site (Part 4)


This was day four of this long trekking cum camping trip. For previous days' story, please read the last three posts on this blog. Till day three we had covered the trek from Joginer Nagar to Winch Camp and to Barot, with one night’s camping halt.

 From Barot we walked along the road to Nalhota, in Chota Bhangal, where we stayed in a rented room for the second night. Story of the third day trek from Nalhota to Rajgundha, crossing the Uhl River and exploring Rajgundha was covered in the last post. Morning was biting-cold, and after coming back from the brook, I had to slip back into my sleeping bag.

Morning Sun-rays at peaks visible from Rajgundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra - (April 2016). Pic courtesy: Deepak

Morning at Rajgundha Camping Site
Sun would appear after 7:00 AM, and without a jacket it was unbearable. No one was on the fields, but within one or two hours, people would start working. At 6:45 AM, sun rays appeared at the ice capped peaks around the Thamsar pass. Deepak clicked these moments, and these photographs are the source from where I am writing the exact timings.

Sun-Rise at RajGundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra (Pic courtesy: Deepak)

Light descended slowly down from the peaks and reached at our camping site at around 7:15 AM, and that is when Sun with its round shape started to emerge from behind the mountain. An old couple came to the nearby fields with a pair of oxen, a plough and yoke. We acquainted with Sh. Ashok Kumar who wore a Himachali cap, and asked whatever we could ask about his farms. 

Potatoes and vegetables are the two things that mostly are grown. To sell they have to carry them manually to Badagram on the other side of the Uhl. He also told about his son who had been pursuing a degree in Engineering at some private engineering college at Kangra.

Sh. Ashok Kumar with the yoked oxen at Rajgundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra April 2016 (Pic courtesy: Deepak)

Soon it was about 8:15AM, and we had to pack our tents and get our break-fast meal. At 9:00 AM we were back to the Nepali Brothers’ kitchen to have another meal of Chapati with Potato Sabzi. Also my Cell phone and camera batteries got charged, that I had plugged into the current slots at their house. We paid them about nine hundred rupees for the dinner, break-fast meal and around ten cups of tea. We said good-bye, picked our backpacks, walked just steps up from this house and we already were on the trail that leads to Biling.

Trail towards Biling from Rajgundha, at Rajgundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra (April 2016)

On the 12 km long Trail to Biling-Bir from RajGundha
It was a long gentle walk along this two to three metres wide tack, that was traced back in 1970s or 80s. It was damaged at some places and therefore not even small vehicles run on it. Sometimes mountain biking events are organised, in which bikers from all over the world participate. Some videos are available on the Youtube where they ride along this wild mountain track from Biling to Rajgundha or further below to Barot and lower areas.  Deodar trees shadowed the track, therefore it could be very cold to walk in the mornings.

Origin of Uhl, Rajgundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra -  April 2016 (Pic courtesy: Deepak Singh)

Sun was now higher up from the horizon, and beautified our experience. The ice capped mountain peaks were clearer, and so was the view of the Uhl valley that extended down from these peaks towards Barot. We got a bird’s eye view of Bada-gram and Nalhota and they looked silent but beautiful. Deodar trees were later joined by the Rhododendron trees when we reached the ridge crossing. 

A click down to the Uhl valley, Chota Bhangal, Kangra, -April 2016

We could call this a mountain pass, because on one side of it we could see the Uhl valley, while world paragliding site Biling was visible on the other. We could see the para-gliders flying above the jungle at different heights. We put our backpacks down to take a small rest. A one room hut stood on the left of the track.

Clicked just at the crossing from ridge on trail Rajgundha to Biling, Kangra, April 2016.

Someone from Gaddi tribe might be using this as a halt, while carrying their goats and sheep from one side to the other. The place was surrounded by the dense jungle on a very steep mountain terrain. On the very top of this mountain ridge a red flag had caught our attention. It could be the Hanuman Garh of which Parshuram had mentioned about. This would be another one day trek experience to reach the Hanuman Garh peak from either side of the mountain. 

Recharging ourselves with view of beautiful paragliders' Biling valley at Ridge crossing on trail from Rajgundha to Biling, April 2016

Our plan was to reach Biling and while Anand would take a flight with the paraglider, rest three of us would reach Bir in a cab. Another half of the track followed a descending slope because Biling is at lower elevation. Rhododendrons beautify this part of the track in these spring and autumn months of the year with their colourful flowers, which one can eat.
Local use these flowers to make the juices and preserve that for use in summer to make sharbat. It is beneficial for digestion and relieves from heat, and also good for digestion. This second half of the track was easy to walk, but if it was a motor-able road, could be dangerous for the vehicles because the mountain face is very steep. If accidents happen, they would be fatal.

Biling just few meters down, Kangra, April 2016

Biling –A World Paragliding Site
This was the second time for me to visit this site, but earlier I was alone and came via road, that ascends from Bir. Anand was eager to take the flight, though it was his first time. Whole site is established on a mountain which stretches out from the main Dhauladhar range, like a branch at 90 degrees. 

April 2016

At mid heights of this ridge line is located this paragliding site. It provides sufficient heights for the gliders to take a flight into air. Given to the steep descent and elevation difference between the Bir and Biling, a sufficient air pressure difference gets developed and provides the required wind flow.

In 2010 the road from Bir to Biling was in very bad conditions, only light vehicles could reach the site, thanks to the recent world paragliding event of October 2015. The same single lane road now shined like a wet black serpent in sun shine.  It was the peak season for paragliding, around about fifty people could be seen at the site at the moment we reached there. Other than the Indian tourists we saw a group of about ten from other countries, ladies and gents both. The guides who are the professional gliders were taking off into the air with their clients.

We could see more than ten to fifteen gliders in the air. We asked a man who looked as the guide, and he offered a 20-30 minutes flight for INR 2000. Later we would know that a para-glider takes about INR 500 from this 2000 and other goes to the owner of the equipments and glider. Anand was very soon in the air, and we got down to Bir in a cab. 

Anand getting ready for paragliding, at Biling-Bir, Kangra, April 2016  (Courtery: Deepak)

And in air, paragliding at Biling -  April 2016 (Pic courtesy: Deepak)

Anand had a great experience and we caught him at the landing site at Bir. Together we started our back journey to Hamirpur via Palampur and Sujanpur. Later in the evening, we would have a Chicken meal at Flavors(restaurant) as a treat by Deepak Singh for his birthday. I sincerely want to wish him all the very best for his upcoming birthdays.