GUWAHATI: Adventure seekers now have a new address in scenic Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills to not just explore and experience the thrills of nature, but also compete!

As a matter of fact, adventure tourism at Kharkutta, about 100 kilometers from Guwahati, has been taken to the next level with the organisation of the first National Paragliding Accuracy Championship in Meghalaya on Friday.

A paraglider in action

Meghalaya minister James K Sangma inaugurated the four-day competition as chief guest.

“Meghalaya is hosting a national paragliding accuracy championship for the first time and this is in itself a matter of pride. The event, I feel, will not only help Meghalaya showcase its natural beauty but also uplift tourism in the state,” Sangma told mediapersons.

NPP MLA from Kharkutta constituency, Rupert Momin has been the man behind initiating the adventure sport in North Garo Hills about a couple of years back, which has eventually paid dividends now in the form of a paragliding accuracy competition at Chotcholja in Kharkutta.

“Such an initiative by the MLA is indeed commendable as it will help enhance the tourism prospects of the region in the near future, in turn benefitting the local community immensely. This is just a start and in the coming days, adventure tourism will be taken to a higher level in the area,” Sangma said.

Meghalaya minister James Sangma being welcomed as chief guest at the venue on Friday

Momin said the objective of organising the event was to revitalise tourism in Meghalaya, particularly in the post-COVID scenario, when much is needed to be done to revive the tourism sector.

Officials said Kharkutta has seen a gradual rise in tourist footfall, with domestic as well as foreign adventure enthusiasts visiting the area after paragliding avenues were introduced.

A paraglider prepares to take off during the event on Friday

“Paragliding will certainly generate more employment avenues for the youth of the area and contribute to the overall development of the area,” Momin said, informing that experts from across the region, and from places like Darjeeling and Nepal, were consulted.

The Meghalaya government gave financial assistance to the Kharkutta Paragliding Association to organise the national championship.

Kharkutta MLA Rupert Momin (extreme right) and paragliders, flag off the 1st National Paragliding Accuracy Championship at Kharkutta in North Garo Hills district on Friday

Over a 100 male and female participants from across the country had registered for the four-day competition through the online medium.

“The trials for the event were held on Thursday and the response has been very good so far. An amateur can come and paraglide at the venue assisted by pilots. Youths who wish to train can also be guided by instructors,” a member of the Kharkutta Paragliding Association told EastMojo.

Officials from the North Garo Hills administration had, earlier this month, carried out an assessment of the venue for smooth conduct of the competition.

A contestant at the paragliding event in North Garo Hills on Friday

“The deputy commissioner, superintendent of police, district tourism officer, district sports officer, block development officer among other officials had surveyed the competition site for smooth conduct of the competition,” he said.

The organiser further said that the fact that the venue is not too far away from the LGBI Airport in Guwahati, the Gateway to the Northeast, would be an added advantage as the venue becomes more popular in the coming years.

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