My journey… Nirvana Adventures : Inception of a beautiful journey’s idea…
Have you wondered how movies inspire us? Well I am not speaking about the Horror genres that terrify us and bring out the best goose bumps ever. Here my reference is to the ever beautiful movies you never get tired of watching like Into the Wild (Hollywood film released in 2007), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (how the entire group travels to Manali for that trekking experience in the Himalayas) or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) where three friends decide to go on an adventurous trip. Sipping on coffee, watching out the clean blue sky with some tint of white clouds here and there what reminded me was the amazing awe filled experience of Farhan Akhtar sky diving in the sky. Could I do that? Of course I can but that would take time. Would that be a possibility that I could do this near Mumbai? Well not sky diving at least paragliding at Nirvana Adventures is what I have been wanting to do from a long, long time.
Asked a lot of friends but they could not help. Finally Google suggestion worked out wonders and Nirvana Adventures Paragliding Club is what I came across. Keep reading as today I am going to make you walk through an amazing adventure I had at Fly nirvana, one of the best and oldest schools of Paragliding which is almost 20-year-old, ISO CERTIFIED SCHOOL, and did a Tandem Paragliding and what an experience that turned out to be.
At Nirvana Adventures they make sure you don’t go home disappointed. Tandem paragliding team ensured that I got the experience, thrill and excitement of paragliding without having to learn it, myself. What this means is that I enjoyed the experience of flying like a pro for ten minutes or more without any training or any kind of previous experience, thanks to an experienced tandem pilot, state of the art equipment and breathtaking sites (which I am never going to forget).
Tit for Tat
Yes, what you do is what you get. So what did I do? I let the pilot do his work. What did I get in return? I enjoyed the ride and savoured the amazing experience, as I settled for nothing less than a bird’s-eye view of beautiful hills and long and far stretched green fields. Well you do visit gardens and fields and forests but very few people who dare to fly get to see this top-view. It was indeed a wonderful experience. Those 10-15 minutes in the air made me realize, how beautiful the earth is!!! How the mesmerizing beauty of our mother nature comes out to be when we go up and watch this beauty come alive.
Word from the owner…
When I got a chance to speak with the owner herself it turned out to be an amazing conversation. She said, “Nirvana Adventures came into being in 1997 to fulfil your dreams of free flight by offering a safe standardized and encouraging atmosphere to anyone interested in taking up the sport of paragliding as a hobby. It all began with the discovery of ideal paragliding sites in 1996. With time, energy and dedication Nirvana Adventures became a pioneering paragliding school that in turn led to the transformation of Kamshet into a world paragliding destination. When Nirvana Adventures first began, there was a lot to achieve. The area was remote and paragliding was unheard of in the region. There was a dire need to concentrate and focus on creating basic infrastructure to meet the immediate needs.
Nirvana Adventures actively involved the local village community at all stages – from making tea and drinking water available, supervised parking, providing ISD telephone service and initiating the use of the local jeeps as transport. It was a Herculean task indeed! Every year Nirvana Adventures commemorates the decade long journey undertaken together with the local community, our students and visitors.
Since 1997, Nirvana Adventures has always extended a hand to anyone who’s interested in joining the magical world of paragliding. Today we’re a full-fledged adventure company who teach, cherish and share some unbelievable paragliding and outdoor adventure experiences to numerous students and visiting pilots from all over the world. Many of them come back every week, month or even annually. Nirvana Adventures has become a second home for these pilots. Vibrant and seamless paragliding communities where you can fly make new friends and feel at home.”
As I got to know more that Nirvana Adventures are the oldest and most reputed paragliding school in the country. They are India’s First & Only ISO 9001-2008 Certified Paragliding School. They are the ones responsible for discovering the paragliding sites at Kamshet and transforming this remote region into a paragliding paradise drawing paragliding enthusiasts from all over the country and the world.
Their commitment to keep abreast with the latest in this new and developing sport in terms of best training practices, state of the art equipment and infrastructure and a strong emphasis on safety has ensured this place as leaders in the sport of paragliding.
Today they are a full-fledged adventure company and a reputed paragliding school. Numerous students & visiting pilots come to Nirvana Adventures from all over the world, many of them coming back every week, or month or annually.
Here at Nirvana Adventures they follow the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association’s (BHPA) progressive training system, a step by step approach that ensures a comprehensive, grounding in all the skills and knowledge ensuring high standards. They have developed a training program that is enjoyable and satisfying in a country holiday atmosphere set amongst the hills 2200 feet above sea level.
When you arrive at Native Place they allot a set of equipment to you (glider, harness, helmet and radio) for my exclusive use during the period of my course. You are also given a training record, manual and log book and will be exposed to other reading material and paragliding videos. Your instructors live under the same roof and are always at hand should you have any queries.
At the appointed time you will leave for the flying site along with the Nirvana crew. Your lesson in the field will begin on flat ground where you begin learning to fly the glider while safely on the ground. After a brief demonstration by your instructor, you’ll put on a harness and learn ground handling (how to control the glider on the ground), launching and landing skills with your instructor running alongside you. Day one is dedicated to ground training.
Your first flights will be undertaken in controlled conditions. The training hill you fly from, the wind speeds you take off in and the glider you fly are all selected keeping your level in mind. You will start with hops or low-level skimming flights where you fly a few feet above the ground. When you feel comfortable and can demonstrate good control of the glider, we’ll move to the training slope where you’ll practice solo flights from a higher altitude. First flights are short and at the landing area an assistant will be waiting to guide you into a smooth touchdown. Most students fly at the end of their second training day.
Under the guidance of your instructor calmly talking to you on radio during your flight you will learn to take off, make gentle turns, judge the wind direction and land gently and gracefully as an eagle. You will then be on your way to mastering the art of powerless flight.
Theory lectures and video sessions are held at the guesthouse. Each day dedicated transport takes you to the flying site and back. After an active session at the site you come back home to Native Place to enjoy great food, great company and great views.
Although I did not get a chance to do this extensive course. I had to gather the details for my favourite blog readers so that you get a glimpse of this amazing experience.
Had enough of Nirvana Adventures? When I started knowing about this place I too thought this but somehow this place kept surprising me. Out of the factual things I mentioned in the article that’s how it was but at the end of the day don’t we all miss home? Well I was missing my childhood days when we as a family went to the native place and enjoyed the simplicity of nature. This is when I came across Native place. Naah!! This is not my travel experience from a different place, this is just what Nirvana Adventures offers to the people who would love to stay.
The term ‘Native Place’ in India means one’s ancestral home or village. It is a place where an entire family converges during vacations and other occasions to spend time together. For generations, native place has played a pivotal role of a sacred waterhole which kept families together and traditions alive.
For travellers coming for the first time should know that Native Place is NOT a resort but a guesthouse, offering home-stay facility. I do recommend that everyone who wants to visit should go through Nirvana Adventures’ website thoroughly in order to check out what facilities are available/ not available at their guesthouse before making a reservation. Native Place is a charming guesthouse, situated few hours away from Mumbai, just off the old Mumbai-Pune highway. It is nestled in a utopian hamlet, Kamshet, blessed with scenic beauty created by the Vadivali lake and the surrounding mountains. The unique design of the guesthouse flows down the sloping hillside, offering a spectacular view of the lake and the mountains.
Welcome pamphlet: A Welcome Pamphlet available in my room contained useful information. It has a lot of information about Native place’s guesthouse and garden, site-seeing, emergency numbers etc. Do read it when you arrive so you can be familiar with things around.
Guest Rooms: Native Place has spacious rooms with attached baths – Lake Front Room 1, Lake Front Room 2, Sun Room, N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5. 4 bunk zones (Dorms) as well as tents – Tents and Dorms are provided with comfortable mattresses, sheets and pillows, and has a separate area of restrooms. Choose whichever is preferable.
Living / Dining Room: The guesthouse has an informal living/dining room next to the central courtyard, with a wide staircase spilling out into the porch. You can find numerous hangout spaces within the guesthouse and in the garden. Just relax and unwind.
Food: Delicious home-cooked buffet style meals are prepared offering you the local flavours. Many of the ingredients are grown in our own garden. Menus are prefixed; if you want to order snacks / beverages, there is a separate menu at the Kitchen.
IMP: All meals – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are ONLY served in their common dining area of the main guesthouse. Timings are fixed.
They do have an extra menu (available in the kitchen) for guests who may want to order snacks. But this service is sometimes suspended at short notice.
Food Supplies: The best part about Nirvana Adventures is that they support the local economy by purchasing most of their ingredients from the local market and directly from the farmers. They have a policy of using fresh local produce. Not only does this enhance the quality of the food we serve, but also reduces the ‘food miles’ travelled to reach the plate and, thus, the level of carbon emissions generated. The rice they serve is a variety grown especially by farmers in this region and the pickles are homemade. So all the ingredients come from their own garden.
No Room Service: Being a guesthouse, they have limited staff and do not offer room service.
Guests are not allowed into the kitchen and they do not allow refrigeration of your personal foods and beverages. Pets are not allowed. This is keeping in mind comforts of all guests who come to Native Place.
Eco-friendly: Native Place strives to be a sustainable and eco-friendly venture by conserving water and not littering I too contributed for the cause.
Native Place Garden: In the garden they have a preference for indigenous plants that attract birds and butterflies and other wild life to the garden. These plants survive on limited water and fertilizer, thereby ensuring that we use fewer resources. They also follow permaculture principles and the Nateuco method of organic farming, making their own compost (amrit mitthi) and reusing their own resources.
Garden Discovery Cards: They have compiled a series of Garden Discovery cards for you to explore the many delights and treasures in the garden. They urge us to use the same and promote it as well.
Checklist for a traveller like me
Climate: You can visit Kamshet any time of year – October to January for winters, February to May for summers, and June to September for blissful rains. Due to its geographical location, the days are warm and evenings cool. December and January can be particularly cold at night.
Clothing: Casual attire suits best. November/December/January: Light Woollens for the evenings and early mornings. Rest of the year: light attire all day and night.
Health and Misc: Native Place is located 13 km from the nearest stores. So, do keep this in mind while packing, and carry your preferred medicines, toiletries, etc. They do have a first aid kit in-house.
What to watch out for?
Staff : Native Place, today, has been able to create employment opportunities for the local youth (a much-needed contribution from every sector of our country). Almost all the staff members belong to Kamshet and villages around Kamshet, who are groomed, trained and appointed for specific roles and responsibilities in the guesthouse.
Architecture : Built keeping the weather, geography and earthy aesthetics in mind, the architecture of Native Place is designed to blend with the cascading hillside, overlooking the Vadivali Lake. It has airy rooms with high ceilings and many windows and ventilator openings to keep rooms additionally cool in summer. The central courtyard and many large openings funnel fresh air into the house at all times that made my stay refreshing. Laid with China Mosaic the roofs are not only delightful to look at, but also effective at keeping the ceiling cooler (this feature was the best as I love art and ventilation as well). In addition, the trees and shrubberies all around help in keeping the atmosphere pleasant throughout. Nature was at its best rather it was put in use at its best.
Electricity : To counter the frequent power cuts that peak in summers, Native Place has a back-up generator that powers fans and basic lights indoors. In addition, they have a solar-cum-windmill that powers outdoor lights. We use energy-efficient bulbs to reduce electricity usage and, thanks to solar panels, we have hot water running on the bathroom taps and they are working towards going completely off the grid. How eco-friendly and cool is that.
Water : At Native Place strong emphasis is on water conservation, which is why they use micro filtration and reverse osmosis to produce potable water, drawn from the nearby lake. The residual waste water is treated on site, using Reed Bed technology and is used to irrigate a part of the garden. Furthermore, in the garden, they have consciously chosen species of plants that survive on less water, and have adopted various methods to reduce water consumption.
Taste the Authentic : Traditional mango pickles, crunchy salads of fresh vegetables picked from the Native Place garden, a wide spread of multi-cultural vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies … food at the Native Place guest house is all about tasting the authentic. After the whole adventurous ride I savoured these delicacies to the fullest. The buffet was served at the common dining area at fixed timings during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes you ought to be punctual to enjoy those special meals.
Meals: Speaking of meals they had a typical menu. No you won’t get a special cook or chef here. It’s your native remember? Native Place has an exclusive Buffet service as I mentioned earlier with the Breakfast having options such as Upma (Semolina Porridge), Poha (Spicy Puffed Rice), Anda Burji (Scrambled Eggs), Bread, Butter, Jam and Tea. Lunch had some of my favourite with Dal (Lentil Soup), Rice, Roti, 2 Vegetable Dishes, 1 Salad and Pickles. (1 Chicken dish for non-vegetarians). Dinner had Palak Paneer, Aloo Mutter, Jeera Rice, Egg Curry, salad, Pickles (On weekends, dinner begins with vegetable soup). Weekend Special has Freshly Barbequed Chicken, Jacket Potatoes and Butter Naan. With No Room Service, Native Place gives you the full responsibility to get out of the room as we all did back at our native place.
Multi activity adventures : Feel the excitement of climbing hills and scaling new heights. Go mountaineering! Flying Fox, Rock Climbing, Abseiling / Rappelling, Hiking, Jummaring, Valley Crossing, Ropes Course, Outdoor Surviving Techniques and Team Games are the options for Adventure Lovers.
So what are you waiting for ?
Nestled in a remote valley in the Sahayadri Mountain Range, it is located 2 and half hours from Mumbai, 40 minutes from the hill station of Lonavala, and is accessible via the Mumbai-Pune expressway and rail. Trains and buses ply to Kamshet every day from Mumbai (via Lonavala) and Pune. Get your journey planned and get set to this place. I highly recommend this place for those travelling alone as well as with their family as it is an excellent getaway for all the Adventure lovers and if you are not the adventure type then go on get yourself comfortable in the warmth of Mother Nature. Be it the serene beauty from the top being flying in the limitless sky or being in the lush green trees and bushes and greens all you have to do it visit that place to enjoy both or any.
What makes this place attractive is its location (being so close from the hustle of Mumbai), it is yet so calm and has so many things to offer. So go on and grab this opportunity to find peace from your daily ordinary life.
Check out this beautiful video of our wonderful experience at Nirvana Adventures
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Google Location for the paragliding site