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Play Safe at Skyview Patnitop

Feb/21/2021 / by gustasp-and-jeroo-irani
Image credits: Gustasp and Jeroo Irani

Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean, India’s newest adventure tourism destination, is Covid ready

Pop the question during a romantic gondola ride, or welcome the New Year amidst snow-dusted mountain-scapes at Patnitop, a pine-forest-shrouded mountain resort in the foothills of the Himalayas. There’s more! Glide down Asia’s longest zig-zag zip line, go mountain biking, trekking and birding… All this is now on offer at Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean, a Covid-ready getaway for the Covid-weary traveller.

“Play safe” could well be the mantra at Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean, India’s newest adventure tourism destination, located just a two-hour drive from Jammu city in the north Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The largest Indo-French collaboration in the country, in terms of mountain infrastructure development, this multi-season, multi-entertainment destination sprawls across 11 acres. The adventure destination is now open from Thursdays to Sundays, and from January 2021 onward, it will be open six days a week.

Image credits: Gustasp and Jeroo Irani

“We have a Covid-ready compliance certificate fromSGS the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company,” revealed Syed Junaid Altaf, Managing Director, Empyrean Skyview Projects.

When thrill seekers and tourists swish upward in the show-stopper, state-of-the-art rope way from the Lower Terminal at Sanget to Patnitop (the Upper Terminal), they can feel secure in the knowledge that the cabin cars undergo deep disinfection and sanitization before guests step in. Only four passengers are allowed in each cable car (versus 8 in normal times). Guests can sit back and take in views of terraced farmlands in the distance and revel in the experience of skimming over snow-dusted pine trees in one of the country’s safest and highest ropeways (in terms of clearance). The gondolas soar 65 m above the ground, with the longest span of 849 metres between two of the 8 towers.

Image credits: Gustasp and Jeroo Irani

Only 200 guests are allowed at any given time, and stringent SOPs (standard operating procedures) are in place such as: masks are mandatory for staff and guests, online bookings, thermal screening, continuous sanitization of all equipment, social distancing everywhere including in the restaurants where digital menus and bio-degradable cutlery have been placed.  

After re-fuelling at the Lower Terminal, we geared up to zip down Asia’s longest zig-zag zip line which stretches 580 metres, at an altitude of 1,371 m and ends at 1,344 m, stretching across 9 cables and 10 platforms. As some of us zipped down the lines, the vast landscape un-scrolled like a painting at our feet. We gratefully inhaled the pine-scented air while gazing at the bewitching sight of the Upper Terminal at Patnitop in the distance, snoozing under white snow banks that resembled whipped cream.

Image credits: Gustasp and Jeroo Irani

We tried the all-season tubing sledge, bumping downhill like buoyant corks in a swirling river and the Magic Carpet ride which was akin to moving uphill on an airport conveyor belt. Off-site adventure activities like guided mountain biking, trekking, birding, interaction with local villagers are also on offer with WTTC (The World Travel and Tourism Council) safe travel protocols for adventure travel have been adopted.

The site of the adventure and leisure destination is sleek and modern. The Lower Terminal with its ticketing block, an area for food kiosks and restaurants fits nicely with the more spartan Upper Terminal. The wood buildings (constructed from responsibly sourced timber) with pitched roofs, generous use of glass and skylights pull in entrancing vistas of jagged peaks capped by candy floss clouds and secretive pine forests. Glass doors and windows are a hyphen between the outdoors and indoors.  

Image credits: Gustasp and Jeroo Irani

Local craftsmen hand-chiselled and dressed over a million stones for months for the retaining walls and a water reservoir created for construction was fed by a natural spring. Native indigenous plant species were used in the gardens. We recalled what Syed Junaid Altaf had shared with us:” When building, if you take care of the mountains, the mountains will take care of you.” Before our departure for Jammu, we mused on how Skyview Patnitop may well be the ideal stage to act out holiday fantasies, long suppressed during the pandemic.

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