Picture this: It is biting cold and you are surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful snow-clad mountains. The cable car glides smoothly kissing trees along the way as it takes you to your destination in the most gorgeous setting one can ever imagine. The houses dotting the valley beneath and snow-dusted pine trees seem straight out of a Christmas postcard. The scene will inevitably evoke landscapes of Switzerland, but this is much closer home in Jammu!
Patnitop, a small, pretty hill station about two hours away from Jammu by road, just became very exciting because apart from being home to one of the highest and longest gondola rides in India, there are a range of other adrenaline-pumping activities to dabble in. There is Asia’s longest zigzag zipline, India’s first magic carpet and grass tubing sledge. Try all this at Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean, a new adventure sport destination, which is located at Sanget, the base terminal for the ropeway.
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In a mere 10 minutes (depending on the wind speed) the cable car cruises over 2.8 kilometers taking one from Sanget to Patnitop, perched at 6,640 feet. It has made this picturesque destination more accessible – it takes an hour to traverse the same distance by road. But the highlight of course is the incredible views. The colours of the landscape get transformed depending on the season – in winter the snowy slopes are an enchanting white, while in summer the cable cars glide gently over a lush green valley and verdant, terraced fields and if you are going in the evening, the gentle glow of moonlight casts a magical, silvery spell.
The base station, Sanget, is also the place to try your hand at ziplining, where one literally flies through the sky like a bird. Unlike the usual ziplining which involves going down a relatively small straight line, this is far more complex. Asia’s longest zigzag ziplining (580 meters) starts at a height of 1371 meters, stopping at nine poles along the way to descend to 1344 meters. They train people and only when someone is completely confident, do they actually go down the main line. It is, of course, exhilarating to zip along in the midst of the towering mountains.
As interesting as the zipline, is the so-called “Magic Carpet” that one takes to reach the training area for this activity. It is like going up an escalator where all you have to do is balance yourself until you reach uphill, something easy to master.
For those wanting to try their hand at something more exciting, go for tubing sledge where you sit in a tube which is then pushed down a dry grass carpet. You come sliding down, turning at the bends.
And when hunger pangs strike, there is plenty to choose from. For those looking for a vegetarian meal, the restaurant (vegetarian) Banana Leaf that serves North and South Indian food will come to your rescue. For snacking options there is The Wok, which offers basic Chinese food like momos and noodles and of course a steaming cup of tea or coffee.
You should know:
Round trip on the ropeway: Rs.999 plus taxes
One-way trip on the ropeway: Rs.849 plus taxes
Zipline: Rs. 749 plus taxes
Closest airport: Jammu, 95km away
Closest railway station: Udhampur, 28km away