Jumpin Heights, Rishikesh Take a leap of faith

Destination

November 16, 2015

/ By / New Delhi

India & You

July-August 2014

Rishikesh is one place which does not only provide the tourists a dose of spirituality but also gives a taste of thrill of adventure sports. One such adventure zone is Jumpin Heights, where bungee jumping is a big draw.

Often we are all faced with challenges and most of us love to give it our best shot and fight it head on. Well, talking of challenges, fear of heights is something inherent in many. And when this fear can be turned into a catalyst for a challenging adventure sport, what better way to get your adrenalines pumping?

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you have the guts to overcome your fear or to feel the air up your spine and body? If yes, Jumpin Heights is the place to be! Standing on the edge of a cliff, you look down to see the rocks at the bottom. You see the shallow gushing river. You gulp. The only thing you are conscious of is a cold sweat running down your spine. The cords that tie you there are immaterial. Fear is thumping in your ear. Each thump a question: What if the cord snaps? What if I hit my head? What if?

This feeling comes when you go for bungee jumping from a height of 83 metres in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. All courtesy Jumpin Heights, which claims to be the country’s first cantilever bungee platform built over a rocky cliff over-looking ‘Hall’, a gushing tributary of the Ganges in Rishikesh.

Unparalleled thrill

The journey began when the Jumpin Heights mini coach took us some 18 km upstream of Rishikesh at Mohan Chatti where the jumping station is situated. En route, various advertising boards of Jumpin Heights make your heart beat faster with cliches like “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it”. At the station, while we awaited our turn in the cafeteria we watched live videos of people jumping and it only increased the fear. Finally, our turn came and the smile shrunk on the solitary walk down the long metal platform to the jump point. “Take a deep breath, look straight, and free yourself,” said my trainer Suzanne, looking straight into my eyes even as a shiver went down my spine at the thought of jumping off the cliff. As Suzzane spoke, two other trainers fitted me out with two harnesses, one for the back harness and the other for the ankles. Suzanne, who is from Switzerland and works four to five months a year as a trainer with Jumpin Heights, assured me that all the safety measures were in place.

Flying Fox - the least scary activity

Flying Fox – the least scary activity

After the trainers double-checked everything, right from my weight into the fittings of the harnesses, they asked me to walk forward. I reached the edge of the launch pad and could see the crystal clear water of the river. They asked me not to look down and that I was ready to jump. Trainers yelled, “3, 2, 1… Bungee” and I was in the air. With my ankles up and head down, the force of gravity fast pulled me down towards the river. The thrill of the free fall lasted only a few seconds, but the adrenaline rush didn’t stop even after the elastic chord to my ankle threw me a few metres up just before I could touch the river. The only words that came out of my mouth at that time were, “Yes, I have done it.” There were two men standing below and they pulled me down with the help of a strap and put me on a mattress as they unbuttoned the harnesses. And when I got up, they gave me a water bottle. I trekked back to the reception counter.

Bungee jumping is a big draw here but the Giant Swing far outweighs the bungee in both the scare and the thrill element. The Giant Swing plunges you down almost twice the height as the bungee and you swing wildly across the valley. The only psychological advantage here is that you are upright and have a rope in front of you to hold. Flying fox is the third adventurous activity and the least scary of the three.

A leap of faith costs about 2,500 INR (31 Euros) in India versus Rs 3,600 (45 Euros) in Nepal, which houses the world’s third highest bungee point on the river Bhote Kosi. The best bit: You not only live to tell the tale but show it too. An automated camera records each moment of the jump and costs only 700 INR (9 eur). What’s more, you can watch others’ jumps on screen as well, while gorging on piping hot coffee. Besides providing you with a breath-taking view, the cafeteria also lets you watch live recordings of the jumps on their screens.

Safety is the top priority here says Devendra Gusain, Operations Manager at Jumpin Heights. “Safety standards offered by Jumpin Heights in India are comparable to safety standards and practices followed in Australia and New Zealand. Our trained staff looks at safety first with guidance from experienced jump masters from these countries. People suffering from complications like heart and blood pressure are not fit to jump. Pregnant ladies are also not allowed. We are very careful about these things.”

The best time to visit here is between April and June. You can also visit after the winter when there is no fog, Gusain said, adding, “To please the palette of adventure lovers further, Jumpin Heights is expanding to Lonavala about 100 km from Mumbai.”

Budget stay, veg food

I collected my belongings and came back to my hotel in Tapovan. Rishikesh has many options for budget accommodation but it lacks any four orfive star properties nearby. I stayed in a budget hotel, Shivanta Residency, where rooms were big enough and location was good but the food in their in-house restaurant was average, so I preferred the nearby restaurants, which only served vegetarian fare non-vegetarian food is banned in the holy town. The best food is served at the oldest restaurant of the city – Chotiwala. There is a fat mascot with a pointed hairdo sitting right outside the restaurant with the plate having all the dishes that are served.

left - An evening Ganga aarti, right - Chotiwala is the oldest restaurant in Rishikesh

left – An evening Ganga aarti, right – Chotiwala is the oldest restaurant in Rishikesh

Before leaving the city, in the evening, we found a German Bakery facing the Ganges near Lakshman Jhula and, with mix vegetable pakoras (snacks) and lime soda in our hands, we simply watched the emerald green water of the Ganges flow by and heard pealing of the bells from the temples. And the contrast between the tranquility of the moment and the adrenalin rush of the morning could not have been greater!


5 things to do in Rishikesh, apart from Bungee Jumping

  • Take a holy dip in Ganges and watch the beautiful Ganga Aarti (prayer) at Parmarth Niketan every evening.
  • White water rafting, if possible with overnight camping on the banks of the river. Best time is March to June and September to November.
  • Other adventure sports like rappelling, rock climbing, kayaking, etc
  • Yoga in Rishikesh – There are many yoga centres here. International yoga festival takes place in March every year.
  • Shopping – Go for handicraft items made of shells, beads and pearls.

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