Hot air ballooning in India is one of the most romantic and idyllic adventure activities to get a bird’s eye view of the country’s beautiful and diverse terrain. Here is a complete guide on where to go, when to go, and how to make the most of this lifetime experience. By Pallavi Mehra
Jaipur: Revel in 360-degree views of the stunning Pink City. Spot the majestic forts of Amer, Nahargarh, and Jaigarh, the Aravali ranges, Rajasthani villages and other landmarks.
Price: Rs 13,000 for Indian citizens and upwards of Rs 17,000 for international tourists
Pushkar: From a hot air balloon, enjoy the beautiful sand dunes of Thar, the holy lake, exquisite temples, scenic gardens, camels and farms during the annual cattle fair. Watch the mass ascents of the balloons or take a hot air balloon ride yourself during this vibrant festival (Pushkar Hot Air Balloon Festival)! You will love the sights of village children running after the balloons.
Price: Rs 15,000 onwards
Lonavala: Push pause in a hot air balloon in one of the most spectacular hill stations with mesmerising lakes, hills and favourable wind conditions. Lonavala is the perfect getaway from Mumbai (an hour and a half drive) in the Sahyadri Ranges.
Company: Sky Waltz, Adventure Nation or Lonavala Hot Air Balloon Club
Price: Rs 8,400 onwards
Best time to visit: September–March
Araku Valley: This three-day hot air balloon festival organised by Andhra Pradesh Tourism and SkyWaltz, an adventure tourism company, offers panoramic views of the rich biodiversity of the Araku Valley near Visakhapatnam. Think lush forests, one of the highest mountain ranges in Andhra Pradesh, breathtaking view of flowers, and colourful balloons from international countries.
Pollachi: This magical hot air balloon festival is organised by the Tamil Nadu Department of Tourism and Global Media Box (an adventure sports company) in Pollachi, an hour from the Coimbatore airport. Live your dream with balloons of different shapes and panoramic views of the Western Ghats with rich species of flora and fauna. Moreover, there will be numerous cultural events, concerts and scrumptious food!
When: January (Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival)
Price: Free Entry; Rs 14,999 for rides with a Sponsor Pass
Hampi: Check off your bucket list with a bird eye’s view of spectacular caves, glorious temples and rich cultural heritage sites of the historical city of Hampi. A temple town in northern Karnataka, Hampi was once the capital of the Vijayanagara empire. Its group of monuments are a UNESCO world heritage site visited by millions every year.
Company: Tiger Balloon Safaris
Price: Rs 12,000 onwards
Best time to visit: September–April