Jumping Heights: A Leap of Faith at Rishikesh.

Bungee Jumping at Jumping Heights in Rishikesh. (sanjay austa)

Bungee Jumping -The view from the Valley.

‘’ It’s a life changing experience. You will not feel the same way about yourself after it’’, their voices ring in my ears as I rock softly in the evening train to  Rishikesh. No I am not going for a dip at the Ganga and the accompanying mumbo jumbo.  Though for over a millennia  ‘life-change’ seekers have taken the same journey to flock to the ghats of his ancient holy town.

My trip is far more perilous and takes me  through  a winding road up a mountain slope where perched  high on a  craggy cliff I am to take my leap of faith. Its  called the Art of Letting Go. Or to put it simply -Bungee. For those who have done it, the exhilaration is no less spiritual and they cannot stop raving about it.

‘’ Got Guts’’, screams the poster at Mohanchatti, a village 15kms from Lakshman Zula where Jumping Heights is located.  We arrive here after many a loops in this unmetalled dusty road which goes further on to Neelkanth. Jumping Heights- India’s own extreme adventure company  offers three thrills here for any takers– Bungee Jump, Giant Swing and the Flying Fox.  Here you have India’s first fixed bungee and giant swing  platform. This is also India’s highest bungee and giant swing. A leviathan cantilever juts out from a cliff and hangs 83 meters over the valley below- almost 10 meters higher than the Qutab Minar.

Do  I have the  guts? I am not sure. The provocative ad punch line is aimed at the male machismo but  the fairer sex  far outnumber the boys  in making the leap.

Bunjee Jumping in Rishikesh (sanjay austa)
Jump above the mountain stream. 

“Boys usually back off.  They come loaded with overconfidence and preconceived ideas and don’t listen.  But the girls listen to the instructions carefully and are able to do the jumps  ’’, says Ajay Rawat one of the many instructors here as he helps me with my harness.  Another instructor had a slightly different theory. “I think the girls think of the money which will go waste if they don’t jump’’, he says.

At Jumping Heights there is no refund if you funk. The cost of the bungee and the giant swing is 2500 rupees each and the flying fox 1500. The ratio of the girls doing  the jump compared to the boys stands at 60-40.  And as Rawat eases me out on a ledge of the cantilever so I can get the right angle for photography,  I watch three boys waddle up to the jumping platform and back off one after the other.  They are followed by a  petite  pony- tailed girl who without a fuss makes a perfect leap forward and below.

I watch her fall. Hear her  `I did it’ scream and photographer her bounce around upside down attached to the cord. But I cannot  help thinking of the infamous Youtube video where the bungee rope snapped plunging a young girl head first into the crocodile infested Zambeze river below . The girl swam for her life and survived to tell the tale. But there is  no safety net here. The water in the Hall river – the tributary of the Ganga – over which you jump,  has less than two feet of water to break your fall.

But as I share the chilling video clip on my phone with those in the waiting room,  I am reminded,  this is not Zimbabwe and that the  safety  standard here are world- class. Infact at  Jumping heights everything from the design of the cantilever to the execution, everything has been   outsourced   to the New Zealanders. The jumpmasters themselves are from New Zealand.  New Zealand which refined the primitive rope jumping in Africa into the commercial thrill sport it is today, has the safest standards in these sports across the world.

Even as my  ever cynical nerves are calmed by the guides at Jumping Heights and I am   beginning to be led on to make my own leap, they hand me a  no-claim form.  In it I  read the all important clause which says that I  have volunteered to try the adventures and am well aware of the risks involved. Could I sign on the form please? That’s when I wriggle out of it and decide to stand firm on terra firma and watch others dash down the cliff.

 Bungee is a big draw here but the Giant Swing far outweighs the bungee in both the scare and the thrill element. But just as you can’t enter the elitist mountaineering club until you climb Mt Everest, though good climbers know Annapurna 1,  K2 and Kanchenjunga are far more difficult peaks,  similarly if you don’t bungee it doesn’t count.

Flying Fox ride at rishikesh India (sanjay austa)

Flying Fox ride in Rishikesh.

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 and the least scary of the three. At one kilometer, it  is however  Asia’s longest and takes  you down from the height of 120meters to barely 7 meters above the shallow river at almost 160kms per hour.  The speed depends on the weight, as you run purely on gravity. I volunteer to try this one and am straddled in with a 90 plus man. As we hurtle downhill I close my eyes. But I realize later that this was missing all the fun.. Because you experience the thrill mostly in the first few seconds. The contraption from which you hang slows down soon enough and swings to a halt before you are slowly pulled back to the platform again.

Every adventure is filmed and a cd is handed to you at the office along with the “I have got guts’’ t-shirt a mug. All for a small price of course.

How to Get Here.

If you are travelling from New Delhi you can either take the road or train depending on your comfort.  The nearest train station is at Haridwar 25 kms away.

From Haridwar you have to take the road journey to the Jumping Height’s office in Rishikesh town. The company has small buses to ferry you to Mohanchatti 15 kilometers away.

Leap of faith at Jumping Heights, Rishikesh- India's highest bungee jump, Feb 2012. 60 percent girls compared to 40 percent boys do this 83 meter bungee jump (11 meters higher than Qutab Minar). According to the instructor the girls are able to do it because they listen, compared to boys who come with preconceived ideas. (sanjay austa)

Leap of faith at Jumping Heights, Rishikesh- India's highest bungee jump.


<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/5SFSCIe-IxM” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

13 Responses to “Jumping Heights: A Leap of Faith at Rishikesh.”

  1. Partha says:


  2. pankaj anand says:

    another fantastic write up and some cool image.Sanjay. specially the last one is phenomenal .. All the three things are on my wishlist for a long time 🙂

  3. Surbhi says:

    I have been followng your posts for a while I am a chef in NYC and am just getting into photogarphy and really love seeing your images. Each of your shots talks to me, fantastic works.

  4. Bhavna says:

    Very nice clicks… your timing is superb!
    We are also working in Rishikesh quite near to the Bungee Jumping point.. Do check out our website.
    Also.. Which camera do you use?

  5. Priyanka says:

    Hi Sanjay,

    Great post! However I think it is important to talk about the risks involved in this sort of activity. Bunjee jumping poses some risks to health even if the equipment is working fine such as :

    Injury to the ankles due to the pull of the cord
    Whiplash injury to the back and neck due to the jerk and the high momentum

    In extreme cases : (chances are 1 in 5 million):

    Dameage to eye sockets due to extreme pressure leading to permanent blindness
    Permanent damage to spinal cord leading to paraplegia
    Uterine Prolapse in Women!

    People with back injuries and neck injuries should not attempt this at all.Overweight People not at all and neither should underweight people!

  6. farah khan says:

    its such thrilling experience that i want to do ever?gud to know about this,last time when i was there i dont know abt.,next time will try definitely,picture r nice especially last one.

  7. a says:

    Hello this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m
    starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I
    wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.

    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

Leave a Reply