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Temples in the Clouds - paragliding in Himalayas

flight to Durga temple
Ilya Zhuravlev

"Temples in the Clouds" is a story of a challenging paragliding safari by Sir James Mallinson and Enrico Patuzzi in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas.

Both these friends, one from the UK and the other from Italy, are lovers of India and are fascinated by Hindu Mythology. The Dhauladhar range of mountains within the foothills of the Himalayas, are home to many centers of Mother Goddess worship situated in different temples.

One such ancient temple is the temple of the Goddess Himani Chamunda Devi, situated at a height of 2500 meters and requiring a full day's climb to reach it from the bottom of the Kangra valley. Because of the relative inaccessibility of the temple, cloistered as it is within the mountains, getting there by road is in itself a feat of endurance. Getting there by paraglider is an even greater test of skill, endurance, faith and commitment. It is these qualities that are tested as both Mallinson and Patuzzi are repeatedly thwarted in their quest to reach their destination. The film has some amazing aerial visuals shot with cameras strapped on the bodies of the paragliders. It is an unusual personal human interest journey of two friends and their quest to succeed in flying to the temple of Himani Chamunda.

View this movie at cultureunplugged.com

Director: Jim Mallinson and Enrico Patuzzi | Producer: Iqbal Malhotra Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2008 | Story Teller's Country: India

James Mallinson’s (BA Sanscrit, DPhil., Oxford) interest in yoga grew out of a fascination for India and Indian asceticism – he spent several years living with Indian ascetics and yogis, in particular Rāmānandī Tyāgīs. His MA thesis, part of a major in ethnography, was on Indian asceticism.

The one aspect of ascetic practice that is well represented in Sanskrit texts is yoga, so for his doctoral thesis he chose to edit an early text on haṭhayoga, the Khecarīvidyā, which teaches in detail khecarīmudrā, one of traditional haṭhayoga’s most important practices, and he used fieldwork among traditional yogis in India to shed light on the text’s teachings.

The monograph on which he is currently working - "Yoga and Yogis: The Texts, Techniques and Practitioners of Early Haṭhayoga" will be published in 2012.

Read an interview with James in next issue of Wild Yogi magazine!

Dr James Mallinson