What is Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping involves leaping from a height connected to a large elastic rope (or cord), which is tied to the feet – or, more specifically, the ankles. This is as adrenaline- filled an activity as any dreamt up by man. And one that both young and old have delighted in, and thrilled in, over the last quarter-century or so. Bungee jumps usually take place from tall buildings, bridges or cranes – but they’ve also been attempted from moving objects (helicopters and hot-air balloons, for example). As the jumper free-falls from a height, the cord stretches; as the cord rebounds, the momentum takes the jumper upwards. This up-and-down trampoline-like movement continues until the elastic cord loses all its energy. Hurtling down from heights may seem terrifying but bungee jumping is a safe activity with a very good overall safety record – most bungee operations around the world are run by trained and experienced professionals, using the best, and the most reliable, equipment, and with the most stringent safety procedures in place. All you need is plenty of nervous energy – too much of it, and you might just back out!
History of Bungee Jumping
The extreme-adventure activity of bungee jumping began in the Antipodes, in the Pacific islands. It is thought to be linked to ‘land diving’, an old manhood ritual – as a test of their bravery, young men from Pentecost Island (Vanuatu) would jump off tall wooden stands with just vine leaves bound to their ankles (the length of the vine was calculated so that the young fellow’s hair touched the ground just as the elasticity reached its limit). Though bungee jumps had been attempted before (in Bristol, England, from the city’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge; and in the USA, from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco) by daredevil types, the first commercial jumps took place in the second half of the 1980s, in New Zealand, a country that’s often considered the Mecca of modern extreme sport. Indeed, Queenstown, in the South Island, is the venue of the world’s first commercial bungee operation, started by A.J. Hackett. It wouldn’t be off the mark to call Hackett, a New Zealander, the father of bungee jumping – or at least the modern avatar of this adventure activity. He attempted his first jump from Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland, in 1986. Hackett would go on to attempt jumps from other bridges and tall structures (including the Eiffel Tower), his intrepid efforts going a long way in helping build a craze for the sport.
Bungee Jumping in India
Bungee jumping is relatively new in India, and there are only a handful of destinations that offer the activity. Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand, is the country’s first bungee site, and easily the best known. Jumps take place from a cantilever platform constructed on a rocky bluff looking out over a tributary of the River Ganges. And now, there are bungee facilities in Delhi and Bangalore – within the city limits – and on a beach in the north of Goa.
A bungee jump almost entirely consists of an elastic rope, which is actually a braided shock cord, tied to the ankle of the jumper. Most bungee cords are made from natural rubber (used due to its elasticity). Two types of harness are used for a bungee jump – a leg harness, which is joined to the cord, and a body harness (back-up for the ankle attachment, for safety purposes).
Best season in India
Throughout the year, but outside of the monsoons
Bungee Jumping sites in India
North – Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Delhi
South – Bangalore (Karnataka)
West – Anjuna Beach, North Goa (10km north of Calangute)
Depending on the height jumped, and also the difficulty of the jump, each bungee operation would have different minimum requirements. Usually, the minimum age is 12 to 14 years (there is no maximum age – as long as you’re fit and healthy!); the minimum weight is around 35kg, and the maximum around 110kg.
If you suffer from a heart condition, epilepsy, high blood pressure, diabetes, or a neurological disorder, or are pregnant, it is advised that you don’t attempt the jump.
When going bungee jumping, whether in the city or outside the city, remember the two golden rules – do not litter, and leave your immediate environment as you found it. If you see any non-biodegradable waste around you, please clean it up (carry it out with you). And desist from boasting about your daredevilry by defacing the rocks!
The region around Biella, halfway through Milan and Turin and not far from the Alps, is heaven for adventurers and nature lovers. Here’s what we did during a weekend in the region – even though the title gives it away, you already know I ended up in Biella bungee jumping!
Why isn’t Biella touristy?
If you asked me what I knew about Biella before our weekend there, I would have said ‘that’s where Menabrea comes from’. All I knew about this remote, little known corner of Northern Italy was that my favourite beer is brewed in town. And the place is less than an hour away from Milan. I know, it’s bad.
Why isn’t Biella better known? The region has everything it needs to become one of the tourism hotspots of Northern Italy. The Alps are nearby, with stunning hiking paths and some of the best ski resorts in the country. If hiking is not your thing, you can opt for mountain biking; the area offers trails for all levels, from fun family outings to hair-rising options for downhill daredevils.
Since the middle ages, Biella has been known in Europe for its textile manufacture (first) and industry (then). The reason is to be found in its geography – the mountainous landscape was perfect for sheep farming, and the abundance and purity of water favoured the construction of textile mills, producing some of the finest fabrics around.
Until the 21st century, the textile industry was more than enough to satisfy the region’s needs. From large industries, to small, family operated affairs, pretty much everyone in Biella was employed in the sector. This is why tourism was never a priority.
A dozen years or so ago, everything changed. Cheaper competition from abroad destroyed the century-old textile tradition of the area. Only the larger businesses survived. Most small ones had to close down, and the people of the Biella area turned their attention to the wealth they had in their hands – their own territory.
The Biella region offers countless opportunities for exploration. From food and wine tasting, to religious and cultural tourism, and of course, our own favourite: adventure.
Downhill mountain biking
Hills and mountains, mountains and hills. They’re all around you, as you move across the region. Mountains covered in woods, dusted with snow, overlooking valleys and rivers, with pretty villages below. The area seemed to be made for mountain biking. And when I say mountain biking, I mean serious stuff.
I had just spent the previous weekend cycling around Lake Garda – a bucolic, tranquil bike ride. This one in Biella was nothing of the sort. Our guides Ludovico and Fabio, from the local bike rental shop Il Ciclista di Candelo, asked us if we wanted to do ‘a bit of downhill’. Sure, we said – not knowing that our definition of ‘downhill’ was rather different.
After a few minutes cycling down a country road, Fabio turned his bike towards something that seemed to be nothing more than a trail across the woods. I barely saw him, as he zipped downhill at light-speed.
I was terrified, but slowly at first, and then faster, I gave it a go. Fabio and Ludovico were excellent teachers, showing us the correct way to use the brakes, and explaining that (within reason, of course) speed actually helps control the bike.
I found it hard to believe, but with a bit of practice, after a few twists and turns across the forest, I managed to overcome my fear of losing control and just let myself go. Mountain biking is the perfect way to combine nature and adventure. You get to appreciate the landscapes, and enjoy the thrill at the same time.
Downhill mountain biking is not for the faint-hearted – it’s incredible fun, but it should only ever be attempted with a guide if you’re not familiar with the area, and with a good, well maintained bike. I had a go on a ‘fat bike’, a model with extra-large tires that offers more traction and stability on uneven terrains. Strangely enough, fat bikes are not heavier than regular ones – and I’m not much of a bike connoisseur, but they do feel more stable.
Biella Bungee Jumping
Mountain biking was a great introduction to the area, but the big one, the mother of all adventure activities, the reason why we travelled to the area was another one. Bungee jumping. Even saying the word aloud sends chills down my spine. It was, at the same time, the greatest and most terrifying thing I have ever done.
When I agreed to bungee jumping, I didn’t actually realise what I was signing up for. It was one of those things that sounds amazing at first – but as time got closer, I was more and more scared. That the elastic would break. That I would hurt myself. That I would get there, and somehow not be able to do it.
Thing is, I’m afraid of the void. To be honest, it’s not fully-fledged ‘fear’, it’s more like a deep sense of discomfort. I’m not comfortable looking down a balcony, a cliff or anything that involves meters of void.
So, why did I sign up? To challenge myself. To be able, afterwards, to say ‘I did it’. I took the leap – literally. And what a leap it was.
The Pistolesa Bridge (also known as ‘Colossus’, do you get the idea now?) near Biella is the location of Italy’s longest-running and only permanent bungee jumping outfit. Bungee Center Veglio has been operating for twenty years, and was one of the founding members of SISE, the national safety standard for bungee jumping in Italy.
Safety is paramount for these good folks. Honestly, there is nothing to worry about – there is always a team of two on the bridge, cross-checking the equipment and preparation of the ‘jumper’, and the elastic is only used for 350 jumps, despite being tested as good enough for over 1000. And no, the elastic does not ‘snap’ – the ins and outs of why are hard to cover in a blog post (especially if you have no engineering knowledge, like me) but rest assured, at Bungee Center Veglio you’ll be in safe hands.
On the day, when we reached the location, my heart skipped a beat. The ‘Colossus’ bridge was high. 152.5 meters high to be precise – one of the highest bridges in Europe. It was a gloomy day, chilly and windy. The valley was covered in mist, and as we approached, I thought there was no way on Earth I would ever, ever make it.
While I waited for my turn, my feelings were in a constant state of swinging. From happy to terrified, from thrilled to stunned. Other ‘jumpers’ waited on the bridge, patiently, for their turn. Every ten minutes or so one walked up to the three metal steps to the edge of the bridge, and then the crowd chanted …. threee, twooo, oneee … BUNGEEE! And off they leapt.
I tried to prepare myself mentally to climb those steps, then gingerly spread my arms and leap, head first, as if I was jumping into the sea.
But when the time came, a whirlwind of emotions overtook me. There was the first attempt, failed, as I looked down and thought no way, I want to go home, I can’t do it. Then came the pep talk that Gianluca, one of the owners, gave me. I turned my brain off. Climbed over those steps again.
This time, I jumped.
That’s when all the feelings disappeared. The dread, the thrill and the anxiety. I was a bird. I was lightning. I was air.
I wasn’t falling, I was flying. It was a wonderful sensation of floating, of being one with the air – the feeling of having challenged my fears and my instinct, of being there between sky and earth, moving faster than I had ever moved before.
Before I knew it, it was over. I must say, the first leap was amazing, but bouncing upside down, head first, was most certainly not. The experience left me with a headache that lasted three days – all because I was too nervous and didn’t listen to the instructions I was given on the bridge, so I ended up hanging upside down for too long. But life goes on.
I leave you with this quote – stolen and translated from my dear friend Martina, creator of Pimp my Trip, one of the other two crazy ladies who jumped with me. Three lines that summarise the experience – and somehow summarise my life.
Top 5 places for bungee jumping in India
Live the moment and enjoy the adrenaline rush as you travel to these amazing bungee jumping destinations in India.
Are you an adrenaline junkie who is always hunting for adventure activities in India? No need to worry, because India has been catching up fast on the adventure tourism front, and is very much equipped for at least one adventure sport. It’s bungee jumping. We have listed around five most famous destinations where you can go for it.
Rishikesh has the highest bungee jumping spot in India, and is the only destination with a fixed platform to dive from.
Location : Jumping Heights, located in Mohan Chatti village, Rishikesh.
Bungee jump height : 83 m
Minimum age: 12 years
Lonavala is one of the best and safest bungee jumping spots in India. It is also one of the closest spots for the residents of Mumbai and Pune, located exactly halfway between the two.
Location : Della Adventures, located in Kunegaon, Lonavala.
Bungee jump height: 45 m
Minimum age: 10 years
This place is for the extreme adventure junkies because it doesn’t have a fixed platform to jump like other destinations. Here, you have to jump a the crane, and most Indians feel that jumping from a crane is riskier as compared to the fixed platforms. That is why, when it comes to the non-fixed bungee jumping in India, Ozone Adventures at Bangalore tops the rating charts.
Location : Ozone Adventures, located on St. Mark’s Road , Bangalore.
Bungee jump height: 25 m platform, suspended from a 40 m high crane.
Minimum age: 18 years
Travellers looking for some adrenaline rush in Goa, can spend an adventurous day at the Anjuna Beach bungee jumping. Since the jumping platform here is not that high, it can be a good opportunity for the first-timers.
Location: Gravity Adventure Zone, located on Anjuna Beach, Goa.
Bungee jump height: 25 m
Minimum age: 14 years
This one is situated in Chattisgarh, and is a good place to try bungee jumping. The destination has a lot of other adventure activities to offer as well.
Location : Jagdalpur, located in Chhattisgarh.
Bungee jump height : 30 m
Minimum age: 14 years
Fashionable bungee jumping began with a leap from a suspension bridge in Bristol, England, on April 1, 1979. Obviously, it was no April fool’s joke. From a top of 250 ft., 4 buddies from the ‘Harmful Sports activities Membership’ leapt into the history books by taking the historic plunge. They had been promptly arrested by the authorities shortly after completion of their activities. However, this didn’t dampen their spirits much. They moved their jumping actions to the United States, where the jumped from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, California. They also managed to safe sponsorship from the American tv present ‘That’s Unimaginable’ for his or her jump from the Royal Gorge bridge in Colorado. Their perseverance helped carry fashionable bungee jumping to the highlight of the media, and the masses.
Bungee leaping takes place all over the world today, from Australia to the United States, to many countries in Europe. It is well revered as a dangerous and extreme sport. Regardless of it’s apparent dangerous facet, thousands and thousands of individuals have efficiently completed jumps since the onset of recent bungee jumping. Indeed, tens of hundreds of bungee jumpers take the plunge annually, in an ever-rising number of ways and places.
Many industrial endeavors have sprung up because of the rise in reputation of bungee leaping within the fashionable sports world. Some of the notable and revered outfits is the A. J. Hackett Bungee Company in New Zealand. A. J. Hackett based the corporate within the late Eighties, after popularizing the sport along with his own jumps. Certainly, he contributed to the trendy bungee jumping by growing a brand new sort of bungee cord. He personally demonstrated his new tremendous elastic bungee twine when he jumped from the Eiffel Tower in 1987. His firm has completed an amazing service to the game by helping to develop trendy means and methods that present a safer type of bungee jumping.
Modern bungee jumping has even crept into some aspects of mainstream western culture. For example, there have been a number of major motion pictures that have featured a bungee jump of their plot. One of the properly-identified of those films can be the James Bond spy-thriller, ‘GoldenEye’, from 1995. On this specific movie, Bond is proven performing a bungee jump from what is supposed to be a dam in Russia. While the soar was actually performed, and was not pc or artist generated animation, the precise location of the jump was incorrect. The filming truly occurred on the Versazca Dam in Switzerland.
Fashionable bungee leaping has even develop into a sport that through which the members are striving to outdo one another. The Guinness Guide of World Information has become concerned, and has recorded what they have officially deemed because the ‘highest commercial bungee leap’. This leap takes place from the Bloukrans River bridge in South Africa. At over seven-hundred ft above the ground of the valley, it’s an astounding feat indeed. Whereas other jumps have taken place from increased areas, this explicit locale is taken into account the very best as a result of it’s purely a bungee jump. There are not any extra cords or secondary safety cables … just the good ol’ bungee cord. Prefer it or not, it seems to be like fashionable bungee jumping is right here to stay.