'Kashmir's paragliding potential is huge, untapped'

Srinagar, May 29 (IANS) Kashmir has huge untapped potential for paragliding as an adventure sport and tourist attraction, because the stunning beauty and wind patterns here provide a rare mix, said the organisers of a paragliding event here Wednesday.

Murad Bhat, proprietor of Karakoram Explorers, the company that has been organising a paragliding event for the state tourism department near Srinagar in the past two days, told IANS: "This paragliding site is close to Srinagar. The site has been identified after five years of research on wind patterns."

"The paraglider pilot takes tourists and adventure lovers on a tandem flight that lasts 15 to 20 minutes," Bhat said.

"In Switzerland and Germany, the thermals produced (the upward current of warm air that is used by gliders) are not as rich as we have found in Kashmir. The flight from our paragliding site offers a stunning view of the Dal Lake and Mahadev mountain in the background"

"Even if there is no wind, it takes 10 minutes for a flight to reach the landing site. The paragliders we use are DHB1 specified, and safe," he added.

"When the winds are favourable, because the site is situated on the west slope, the glider is taken to a height even higher than the take-off site", Bhat said.

So far, 42 tandem paragliding flights have taken off from the site. The organisers say it is now time an international paragliding event is held in Kashmir.

"Just 15 minutes by road, and then one can be off in flight. This type of convenient paragliding facility is only available in Turkey so far," Bhat said.

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