Why not a ‘Mountain Flight’ for Uttarakhand? ‘माउंटेन फ्लाइट’ लगा सकती है उत्तराखंड के पर्यटन में चार चाँद

Why not a ‘Mountain Flight’ for Uttarakhand?  ‘माउंटेन फ्लाइट’ लगा सकती है उत्तराखंड के पर्यटन में चार चाँद

Uttarakhand is a treasure trove of Himalayan peaks. Nivedita Khandekar, who recently flew past Mt Everest on a ‘Mountain Flight’ strongly feels that same can be replicated in Uttarakhand….


n a recent visit to Nepal, I had a once in a lifetime experience. The high point of the trip, literally, was a sublime experience when I actually flew very very near to Mount Everest!!!

 Yes, thanks to the Mountain Flight I took from Kathmandu, it was possible to fly close to Mt Everest. If one is not going to climb it, ‘Mountain Flight’ is the option where one can go closest possible to the world’s highest peak at 29,029 feet.

It was a 50-minute flying time trip, one that filled me with joy unspeakable. Along with Mt Everest, the flight that went east from Kathmandu showcased a breathtaking view of almost a dozen-odd snow-capped peaks, all above 21,000 feet.

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Mount Everest as seen from the cockpit during the ‘Mountain Flight’ from Kathmandu (All photos by Nivedita Khandekar)

On my way back, even when I was overjoyed, I started thinking. Why can’t we have a similar ‘Mountain Flight’ in India? Several places in Uttarakhand boast of vantage points that offer a fantastic view of the perennially snow-clad mountain peaks. Kausani, Lohaghat, Munshiyari, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Chamoli, Gangotri, to name a few. All these places offer a terrific sight of almost 350 kms of white marvels in winters when monsoon clouds do not hinder the view.

Uttarakhand is a treasure trove of such Himalayan peaks. Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Panchachuli, Mt Satopanth, Trishul, Kedarnath, Thalay Sagar, Dunagiri, Meru, Badrinath, Mt Kamet, Shivling, Balakun, Hathi Parbat, Bhagirath I, II & III, Neelkanth, Om Parvat, Nandakot and Bandarpunch are some of the better known peaks.

These and many smaller peaks are the pride of Uttarakhand and the state should have had a mechanism to showcase its bountiful treasure already. The clear blue skies form a magnificent backdrop for the snow-white wealth on offer. It can be a photographer’s delight but more than anything, for a person who witnesses it, for a person who experiences it firsthand, he/she can boast of being part of the Himalayan fan club forever.

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Various Himalayan snow-clad peaks as seen during the Mountain Flight from Kathmandu

Apart from being known as Dev Bhoomi and hence a popular pilgrim destination, Garhwal Himalayas or Kumaon Himalayas are always a favourite destination of adventure junkies. Be it trekking, high altitude mountaineering, skiing, white river rafting, you name it and all these are already available popular adventure facilities. And yet, there are scores of those who wish to experience the adrenalin pumping but are either too lazy or unable to do because of health reasons. For all those, a ‘Mountain Flight’ can be something to compensate for it.

Going by the rapid strides that tourism has taken in Uttarakhand, especially since 2000 when it was carved out as a separate state, one thing is amply evident that people are ready to pay and pay a bomb for a service or a destination that is unparalleled. So, there is ample scope for a ‘Mountain Flight’.

A short-duration flight taking off from Dehradun can be a good option with a small 18-seater or 24-seater aircraft. There are several helipads across the state. Even those places can offer a commercial high-value tailor made tours. The regular and increasing use of helicopters during the Char Dham Yatra season is proof enough that there is much potential and that there are people ready to pay anything for the privilege.

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Various Himalayan snow-clad peaks as seen during the Mountain Flight from Kathmandu

Private airlines can be encouraged to operate such flights with a revenue sharing arrangement with the state. There might be certain obvious restrictions vis-à-vis no-fly zone in terms of strategic/military reasons as the state shares almost its entire north-eastern border with Tibet (China). But that can always be worked out with the Army/Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

The state government will of course need to formulate a policy to include such innovative packages. It would also have to ensure that ample regulation is in place before first such flight takes off. Without regulation, private operators are prone to fleecing the tourists and bring a bad name to state’s bright tourism prospects.

But the best part of this ‘Mountain Flight’ can be that even when most of the higher-altitude places in Uttarakhand witness very few tourists in colder months, this flight can bring those in for adrenalin rush during peak winters. In fact, as against Char Dham Yatra season during monsoon when flying becomes accident-prone, such flights should be operational only during winter months.

And the most advantageous aspect of such a ‘Mountain Flight’ is: this will be an adventure activity least damaging to the environment.


Photo courtesy http://www.dollsofindia.com

Nivedita Khandekar is a Delhi-based independent journalist who writes on environmental, climate change and developmental issues.She can be reached at nivedita_him@rediffmail.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @nivedita_Him

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1 Comment

  1. Megha November 02, at 09:51

    Mountain flight - a very good idea. It can really give a boost to Uttarakhand Tourism. Hope our government works towards it....


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