April 1, 2015

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan


I have seen "The World's Great Balloon Adventures" program with my son on Discovery Channel with mouth wide open. When we decided the place "Jaipur" for our trip, I was searching in net for the places to see, I noticed that this ballooning happens at Jaipur. No second thoughts, directly called up skywaltz and got the details and booked it online. Skywaltz is the operator who organizes this ballooning in few other places in India apart from Jaipur. You can also book through adventure nation site or Skywaltz site.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
We went to Jaipur on the last week of March and it was not so hot and it was as good as Bangalore. I have booked for Ballooning as our very first program in Jaipur. Reached Jaipur on Friday evening and we were all so eager to wake up early for this. We were told to be ready by early morning 5:30AM for the pickup. We got up at 4:30 itself and was ready. The pickup vehicle came and we got in. In 40 mins we reached Amer Fort where the balloon starts.(Amer Fort is also called as Amber Fort, but the actual name is Amer Fort).

As a first thing, they released a Helium balloon to check the wind direction and then decide the location etc....
Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Helium Balloon is released to check the wind direction 

Once we reach Amer Fort, we were served with Tea/Coffee/Biscuits and Juice. And at the same time, I saw that two balloons were getting inflated. I did not bother to take tea/coffee and rushed to take photos. One was getting inflated while the other was taking extra time.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Two Balloons are getting inflated and Amer Fort at the back

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Propane Gas cyclinders, Burners and the Fan which were used to inflate the balloon

After sometime, the pilot Mr. Richard called us and said "I am extremely sorry" and we were like "Oops... what ? Why? " .... Then he told us that the balloon had some tear on top and it is not in a shape to fly. So he told us that he has to cancel the morning flight and you can fly in evening or next day morning. Kids started to ask 1000 questions to me and we all were very disappointed. All the sight seeing plans we had in mind needs to be revisited now and I need to come again for this. With lots of questions in mind we just left the place with their drop-off vehicle and reached the hotel for breakfast.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Pilot Mr. Richard from Srilanka with 1600+ hours experience in air
We had plans of visiting Amer Fort only twice,  once at day time and again on late evening to see the fort with lights. But we ended up visiting Amer fort almost three times and the extra one visit is for the Light and Sound show plus shopping nearby.

I started to capture the other balloon which started to fly. Pilot also told us that the evening flights will be little tricky as the wind will be hot compared to mornings. But then "Am I going to miss seeing the Amer Fort from top?"..... very sadly yes. (:- Not only that, if there are two balloons, you get to see the other balloon flying, from your own balloon which is more interesting than you fly alone. Bit of disappointment for me....

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Balloon is raising ....

The other balloon took off the ground and started to fly above the lake and Amer Fort. I have taken photos of that other balloon. But decided that we should fly in evening itself, so that we can finish this the same day and plan other sight seeing in and around Jaipur. Got it confirmed with the Skywaltz for the ballooning on same day evening.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Balloon almost standing up and ready for the passengers to board

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Balloon started to take off and off the ground now....

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Balloon took off and it is now above the lake and Amer fort...

We were so eager and waiting for the evening flight. They asked us if we need pickup from hotel, but we decided to come to Amer Fort of our own so did not take the pickup option. But then we were asked to come to the nearby KK Royal hotel opposite to Amer Fort for the pickup and we were informed that the take off will be from a far away place and not Amer Fort.

Anyways got into the pickup vehicle and it started to venture inside the rural areas far from Amer Fort. Again refreshments were served. Many villagers gathered at the place and we were eagerly watching the process of balloon inflation.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
The vehicle with Balloon arrives and local villagers surrounded the vehicle 


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
The surface is very rough and can tear the balloon, so the tarpaulin is used...


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Pilot was checking the burners...Propane gas is used...


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Ground crew grabs the cord and pulls the envelope over onto the top


Slowly Balloon started to stand up from the ground and we were all asked to get in.  There were totally eight boarded the balloon including my two kids and my wife. We all stood in one compartment of the basket while the other four people got into the other side of the basket. The pilot and propane gas cylinders were on the third compartment. Mr. Richard gave us instructions and we all were listening carefully. After that the balloon slowly lifted off the ground and started to go up in air. Kids were thrilled but not scared. It is the first ever experience for us. It seems this is the small balloon and big balloons can carry upto 32 passengers. Wov, that is so huge then... !!

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
You can see refreshments served for passengers.... plus ground crew pulling the cord


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Ready for the passengers to board the balloon

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
More hot air released to lift the balloon off the ground


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Yes, we are off the ground and do you see the shade of our balloon ? 


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Going up and things started to appear small. Do you see the tarpaulin from where started off?
Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Do you see the red circle, zoom to see the yellow car (chasing crew) and the site from where we started. 

There was a camera attached to the balloon to take photos of all passengers on air. It was triggered using a remote. Pilot was keep telling us to smile and look at the camera and also released more hot air and fire while triggering the camera. But later, after a day we realized that the data card was corrupt and no photos were recovered. Bad luck, no photos, not even a single photo. Very bad ! I hate this camera. (:-


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
The camera is attached to the Balloon to take the photo of passengers. Remote is used to trigger.

Pilot often called up the chasing crew below on the ground and was updating the directions the balloon was heading. Nobody including the pilot knows where the balloon will head once it is taken off. It goes wherever the wind takes it. I remembered a phrase from one of Osho's books. A monk used to answer when he was asked "where are you going?", monk answers "wherever the wind takes me".

We have crossed three hills, two highways and one Golf ground. We heard lots of peacock screams on the ground while on the flight. Initially the pilot was figuring out the height at which the wind will move or push the balloon. Once he lower the height, the Balloon started to move slowly.

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
During the flight, I just captured the top of the balloon, lots of hot air inside 


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Do you see the tracks over those hills? Not sure how they are made. Looks natural though.



Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Wov, look at this, Isn't it beautiful? Wheat field...



Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
We just crossed a highway and many pulled over their vehicles to side and started taking photos !!!


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Nice building !!
It was awesome experience. During the flight Richard told us about his past experience and stories. Do you see the highway on the above picture, pilot figured out that the landing place is right after the highway and started to bring down the balloon slowly. We also seen the beautiful sunset from balloon which was quite interesting. 

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Beautiful sunset and another highway, we are going to land right after the highway. !!
Immediately after crossing the highway, the balloon touched the ground and ground crew were already running and chasing the balloon and reached us. We were in air for close to 1 hour and 15 minutes. While they were holding and pulling it to the right place, pilot asked two persons to get down first. Once the crew pulled the balloon to the right place, pilot started to issue the "First Flight" certificates to all passengers. Then everyone got down from balloon and boarded the drop off vehicle. With so much excitement and life time memories we reached the hotel. 

Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort


Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur, Rajasthan India, Near Amer Fort
Got the "First Flight" certificate signed by Pilot from within the balloon itself right after landing !!!
Incase if you are curious to know how the hot air balloon works, here you go http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/hot-air-balloon.htm

Jaipur Forts,                                    Around Jaipur                            Rajasthan Photo Feature
Palaces, Food, Shopping                                                                    




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