The hot air balloon ride abo ve Krishna river inAmravati is a memorable experience.
Amravati is the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, which is being developed into an adventure sports and cultural destination. One of the key activities being promoted in the area is – Hot Air Ballooning.
Amravati area is well-suited for hot air balloon flights as it has large open areas for balloons to take-off and land. The Vijayawada airport is nearby from where the flights need permission to takeoff. From above, the Krishna basin looks scenic as the river forks into many small channels forming small islands, which appear like an emerald in the languidly flowing waters that seem in no hurry to reach the sea.
A great start
For a morning flight, reach the take-off area before dawn in case you want to witness the preparation of the hot air balloon.
The large balloon, once fully blown up, has a height of 5 meter and above. It is normally stored in a basket that also carries the passenger and the pilot in the air. As the support team directs hot air, made with propane burner, into the open mouth of the balloon, it slowly starts taking shape. What was just lying on the grass as a colourful but lifeless object, starts slithering and taking shape. As parts of the balloon start getting taut with hot air filling its insides, it starts rising in the air but is held in place by the careful attendants who act as the anchor to the basket. On the instructions of the captain, you enter the basket that has space for limited people. Once everybody is inside the basket, the captain coordinates with other pilots in the area on the walkie-talkie and checks the direction and speed of the wind. By now the balloon is full of hot air and ready to go high in the skies. The staff checks the ropes that connect the balloon and basket and once the captain is satisfied with the force with which the balloon is pulling the basket, he asks the ground staff to release the balloon. At this very moment, he also releases more hot air from the propane burner into the mouth of the balloon. Slowly the balloon moves into the air and suddenly you realise that there is no contact with the ground. Your heart skips a beat as you see the waving staff below looking smaller and smaller and your heart starts beating faster.
Enjoying the ride
As you rise higher a faint glow of yellow appears on the horizon and the first rays of sun pierce the fog to cheer you. You start enjoying your hot air balloon ride above the Krishna River Basin in Andhra Pradesh. Swaying coconut palms, the slowly flowing Krishna river, power towers standing like giants from some alien planet and the reflection of your balloon in the water below adds to the experience.
A hot air balloon has no fixed route plan. No whirring sounds of a helicopter propeller, no burning desire like a rocket to reach the stars, a balloon is more of a drifter, sometimes riding the north wind, sometimes challenging the Westerlies.
As you go higher, dew drenched breeze enters your jacket and envelops you in a tight hug. The languid pendulous movements of the bamboo bucket start playing a lullaby to your ears. Suspended between heavens and earth, you feel you in what is called ‘The Zone’.⠀⠀
“Where are we going? ” you ask the captain?⠀”Where the wind will take us,” comes the philosophical reply. So you tend to forget about the destination and start enjoying the journey.
Touching the ground
Soon it is time to land and the captain coordinates with the ground staff and slowly starts reducing the hot air being released in the balloon. Some final instructions are given so that the landing is smooth. In the meantime, the captain identifies an open field that looks perfect for landing and starts maneuvering the balloon in that direction.
As you touch the field, your memorable and exciting journey comes to an end. The ground team arrives in their vehicles and starts the process of deflating the balloon.
Words: PRASAD NP