Hot Air Balloon Festival
Tamil Nadu, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, has on offer its slices of history, great architectural marvels, ancient temples, pristine beaches, exhilarating hill stations, fascinating wildlife trails for discerning tourists… and now it is not left behind to give you a glimpse of some of the greatest views that nature has to offer from 4000 feet in the sky on a Hot Air Balloon.
One new festival and another feather in its cap, which is in its 6th year running, is the Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival. This five day festival kicks off around the 15th of January every year, in the magnificent and scenic environs of Pollachi that borders the Western Ghats, from the Sakthi Mills grounds.
This festival is organised by the Global Media Box, and other organisations, with unstinted support from the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation. Balloons from India, Netherlands, France, USA, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Denmark participate in this exciting event; and for the visitors who attend this event, it’s not just a colourful bonanza in the skies that’s great to fly in, but a grand visual treat as well.
The World’s first hot air balloon flight took place on 19th September 1783 in Versailles as the first ‘aerostatic flight’ experiment in history carried out by the Montgolfier brothers with a balloon that had a diameter of 35 feet. For the first time in the history of humanity, man could leave the surface of the earth below to touch the skies. The unmanned flight however lasted for just 10 minutes, but it was a big step by Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, the French brothers who organised this public demonstration. Within just a few weeks they went on to demonstrate the first manned balloon flight as well.
The next great challenge for balooning was to fly across the English Channel, and the feat was accomplished by Jean-Pierre Blanchard on 7th January 1785. But it took over 200 years to set another impossible milestone – On 3rd July 2002, Steve Fossett became the first person to fly around the world alone, nonstop, in any kind of aircraft, by hot air balloon. He launched the balloon called Spirit of Freedom from Northam, Western Australia, on 19th June 2002 and returned to Australia on 3rd July 2002, subsequently landing in Queensland. The duration and distance of this flight was an incredible 13 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes.
A hot air balloon is a lighter-than-air aircraft consisting of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air that’s created with a burner. This causes the balloon to float upwards, and modern day balloons can cruise at around 4000 feet.
While most people would have had the experience of flying in a noisy commercial jet, the hot air balloon ride, by contrast, is serene and peaceful. It is relaxing as well as exciting and even people who are scared of heights take to it easily. Flying on a balloon is extremely safe and a very unique experience in life.
Apart from the fun and gaiety in hopping onto a balloon, the Tamil Nadu Balloon Festival also takes on a cheerful air with celebrity music concerts, food festivals, kids fun zones, competitive games, cultural festival and other events to keep children occupied and thrilled.
Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has put in unstinted efforts in making this festival larger every year. Over time it has dreams of reaching the scale of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – the event in New Mexico that attracts over 500 balloons and 900,000 visitors.