Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh at Jumpin Heights proved to be more exciting and scarier than I had envisioned it to be. It was a special occasion as India’s First Extreme Adventure Zone and India’s Highest Bungee Jumping Platform was successfully completing 50, 000 Bungee Jumps. To mark this success, a gala event was organised that witnessed participation from over hundred jumpers, locals, and the ‘Dangal girls’ - Fatima Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Here’s my experience of being taken over by fear and ultimately winning over it.
Please pull me back. I don’t think I am ready. I need more time to compose myself.
This was fear getting on to a person who is known for her dare devil acts. Whether it was snow trekking through blizzard swept glacier in -25 degree Celsius or midnight trekking through the unbearable heat of a live volcano or Zipline biking on a 225-meter-long cable wire suspended 150 feet above the ground in the cyclone hit island or skydiving from an aircraft or simply rafting through the unruly waves of the glacial melted Zanskar; I had indulged in all kinds of extreme adventure. Still, I couldn’t jump on the first count. And the funny part was I wasn’t doing it for the first time. I was doing it for the third time. Neither I had Acrophobia nor I was worried about my safety since the crew was highly qualified from none other but the birthplace of Bungee - New Zealand.
SO, WHAT WENT WRONG? WHY DID I CHICKEN OUT?
The culprit was my overthinking. I had breached the golden rule of Extreme Adventure – Keep your mind at home. I had forgotten that if you can’t do something, you must give it a try. After all, if you don’t win over your fear, the fear will win over you. And there can't be anything worse than giving up without trying.
Rodolphe Vincent, the head safety instructor at Jumpin Heights, echoed my sentiments,
You are thinking too much. Just jump. The more time you take more difficult it will become.
And it wasn’t just me who was scared. Gaurav who had bungee jumped a few years ago couldn’t do it again too. So, the theory of becoming less scared with more adventure might not be entirely correct. The best remedy to get over a fear is to not give it enough time in your mind to spread its wings.
DID I LET FEAR WIN OVER ME?
No. Although I didn't bungee jump the first time I didn’t give up. I tried. I failed. I tried again. And I succeeded. I felt incredible after the jump and cursed myself for letting fear have an edge over me for a brief moment. My fear was completely unwarranted. The jump was completely safe. It refreshed me while the uphill trek (after the jump) to the restaurant drained me out.
At the restaurant, I met Niharika Nigam, the Director –Business Development at Jumpin Heights. During our conversation, she narrated a thrilling story of mental strength and resilience. On May 2, 2010, when she turned 19, she attempted the maiden jump at Jumpin heights or quasi-suicide as her mother called it that time. Her mother was terribly scared and wouldn’t let her jump at any cost but Niharika was determined to lead from the front and demonstrate to the world how safe Bungee Jumping was. So, sneaking out of her mother's radar she quietly performed the jump.
From that maiden jump to completing 50,000 jumps, Jumpin Heights has come a long way.
Us reaching 50k Bungee Jumps, which internationally is a huge number in Bungee Jumping, is a testimony to the fact that it is gaining immense popularity in India. I remember when we started people would ask weird questions because they had not heard of this sport. And today, we are the #1 attraction on ‘Things to Do’ in Rishikesh on Trip Advisor.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
My heart was throbbing rapidly and my hands were shaking. Even the harness snugged around my hips and over the shoulders and the pep talk by the jump instructor couldn't scare away my fears. Safety checks were performed, my weight and jump number marked on my hand were checked to balance the weight on the harness. With both legs bound together, I started walking like a penguin towards the ledge.
My feet were on the edge of the ledge and the crew was holding my harness at my back. Neither pushing nor pulling. The jump instructor gave the final set of instructions and started the count down. 1…2…3…3…Jump! My heart was pumping incessantly. I wanted to turn back but I didn’t. Without wasting a second more I looked at the yellow signboard at the far end of the road, stretched my arms out, leaned forward and bang I JUMPED!
My free-fall had taken me to a different world where nothing was stable or familiar. The wind caressed my tresses with jet speed. My anxieties had vanished in the thin air. I surrendered myself to the surroundings instead of controlling them and that’s when I started enjoying Bungee Jumping. I was free falling - head down, feet up. The blood was rushing to my head. I got the roller-coaster feeling in my stomach. I screamed with excitement. Suddenly I was pulled up by the bungee. I went to the top again and the free fall continued.This process happened twice, albeit in lesser intensity as compared to the earlier one.
After almost a minute of adrenaline pumping, my jump was over. Alas! All good things last for a less time. Finally, two people waiting near the river pulled me down to a deck. My harness was removed, a water bottle was given and I was awarded the badge saying, ‘I have guts’. Yes, I had done it. I had won over my fear. There’s no better feeling than winning over your fear. I wish my words could do justice to that feeling.
10 TIPS BEFORE YOU BUNGEE JUMP FOR THE FIRST TIME
Lead, don’t follow
Your fear doesn’t leave you if just watch others take the plunge. Go take the leap of faith. The longer you wait to take the leap, the more time you spend making excuses and convincing yourself to back out.
1, 2, 3…Jump
Jump before 3. If you let the person count until jump, chances are you won’t jump on the first count.
Don’t look down
That was the mistake I made. It looks damn scary from the top. Just look at the eye level and perform the jump
Choose your surroundings carefully
Bungee jumping is about your whole experience, not just the leap. So, choose a brand that is trusted, has well-trained staff and is set in a calming environment.
Trust the jump instructors
Jump Instructors go through a long, in-depth international training schedule to become a qualified Instructor. You can trust them with your life.
Wear comfortable clothes
Wear anything you're comfortable in - T-shirts, shorts, pants! Avoid wearing a skirt, dress or high heels. You can bungee jump either bare foot or with shoes. Just ensure to tie the laces well.
Don’t eat too much before the jump
It’s advisable to not jump with a stomach full as you might puke while jumping won’t be a good sight to look at.
Look into the camera and smile
After the jump, you would want to brag about your adventure to your friends so don’t look scared (even if you are). Take the plunge with a happy face.
Don’t carry your valuables
You are not allowed to carry a mobile, camera, jewelry or anything else. So, don’t carry them along when you jump.
Read carefully before signing the form
Don’t jump if you have any chronic disorders like heart problem, back ache etc. mentioned in the list
BASIC FACTS TO CONSIDER
Age: Minimum 12 yrs
Weight: Minimum 35 kgs and Maximum 120 kgs
Reporting Time: 9 AM and average time to complete the activity is 3 to 4 hrs depending on availability
Weekly off: Tuesday Closed
Bungy Location: Mohanchatti (25 km from Rishikesh)
For more details: visit Jumping Heights website or sent an email to email@example.com
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Entry Ticket: 100 / person
Bungee Jumping: 3500 / person
Giant Swing: 3500 / person
Flying Fox (if done alone): 3000 / person
Flying Fox (3 persons in tandem): 1700 / person
Local Transfers from Tapovan to Bungy Station (to / fro): 300 / person extra.
Charges for Video (DVD) of the Activity, if required will be extra.
So have you ever done Bungee jumping or tried any other adventure sport? Here is some adventure inspiration for you and some Offbeat Adventure Activities that you have not heard before.
The abridged version of this story was published in DB Post: 60 seconds of insane courage
I was invited by Jumpin Heights to be a part of their gala celebration. All the views expressed and pictures clicked are mines.