Pune adventurer performs first-ever ‘air-parikrama’ of Ram Temple in Ayodhya

Pune/Lucknow: In a unique adventure, a Pune extreme sports enthusiast performed a dare-devil first-ever ‘hawai-parikrama’ (circumambulation in the air) of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and then para-dived onto a small makeshift landing pad in the middle of Sarayu river on Friday evening.

Shital Rane-Mahajan (41) thought of doing ‘something unique’ to mark the first month of the inauguration of the grand Ram Temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 22.

“Many people are trying to do different things to commemorate the Ram Temple consecration… I thought of a para-jump and ‘hawai-parikrama’ and I completed it successfully today,” an excited Shital told IANS, after the happy landing.

She first flew in a power hang-glider aircraft, which was piloted by none other than the Gonda BJP MP, Kirti Vardhan Singh, popularly called ‘Raja Bhaiya’ in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh (58) soared the small plane, circumambulating at around 1 km radius from the Ram Temple offering breathtaking aerial views, but did not fly above the temple due to restrictions put in place by the management.

Then, the power hang-glider climbed to a height of around 5,000 feet before Shital decided to take her ‘plunge’ from the sky to the earth.

“I jumped out and had a free fall till around 3,500 feet, then opened the parachute… Simultaneously, I opened a large saffron flag, 10 x 6 feet in size, in the air with the slogan ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirthkshetra Me Aapka Swagat Hai’ written on it,” she said.

She then guided the parachute to the exact landing pad erected for the jump in the middle of Sarayu river, from where was picked up in a boat. As she returned ashore, many people from Ayodhya clapped and cheered her for the feat.

For the jump, Shital was draped in a special saffron-green colour ‘saree’ with her hair tied, symbolic of the religious importance of Ayodhya and its newest world-class temple.

She said that preparations for the jump had begun at least four months in advance with a series of permissions from the DGCA, local aviation authorities, all the leading security agencies, and of course, the Ram Temple management.

After everything was put in place, she planned the jump on February 22 (Thursday), but was forced to cancel it owing to inclement weather.

As a sunny day dawned with good weather forecast, she took up the challenge after 5 p.m. on Friday, owing to DGCA restrictions, and to ensure there were no aircraft movements in the vicinity.

Shital, a 2011 Padma Shri awardee and the mother of twin sons – Vaishnav and Vrushabh – shuttles between Pune and Finland, where her husband Vaibhav Rane, a banker and an adventurer himself, works and lives.

In the past over two decades of her adventurous life, Shital has performed hair-raising extreme stunts, including free falls over the North Pole and South Pole, over all the seven peaks across seven continents, including Mt. Everest, completed around 800 jumps worldwide and created several records. She got married to Vaibhav in a hot-air balloon 600 feet above Pune in April 2006.



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