The much awaited ‘Heli Tourism’ initiative of the AP Tourism Development Corporation took off when a token sortie was made yesterday. The commercial heli tourism ‘joy rides’ will begin from Today.
After gaining an encouraging response to joy rides held at Rajahmundry during the Godavari Pushkaram this year, APTDC (Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation) intended on replicating the same in Tirupati, incidentally now with the nine-day Tirumala Brahmotsavams.
While the dicey weather delayed the arrival of the Pawan Hans chopper by four days, there was a further delay in getting permission from the Air Traffic Control.
Finally, the chopper made a symbolic sortie for a short distance, after officials performed the traditional ‘Puja’.
The idea of heli tourism is to allow for the tourists to have an aerial view of the temple city, the majestic Chandragiri Fort and the Srinivasa Mangapuram temple from an altitude of 500 feet. The time allotted for a trip is eight to 10 minutes, and the same is scheduled to conduct for up to 30 trips a day.
Within the given framework, the tariff of Rs. 1,999 per head is nominal, and the package will soon be reworked.
There are issues with approvals from the ATC , as it is not known for sure if permission will have to be taken everyday for daily trips.
“We already have 500 enquiries, and we are following them up. In spite of the delayed start, we are confident of conducting trips even beyond the Brahmotsavam period,” Manish Rokade, Deputy General Manager (Commercial) of Pawan Hans Helicopters to a leading newspaper daily .
As the current year will witness two Brahmotsavams, plans are afoot to run the show successfully till the second event, ie., ‘Navaratri Brahmotsavam’, which will conclude by the third week of October.
No Heli Rides Over Tirumala Hills
The chopper should only fly parallel to the imposing Tirumala hills, but not venture over it, as there is already a demand for declaring Tirumala a ‘no fly zone’ for sentimental as well as security reasons.
“The indications are clear. We are aware of the rules of Tirumala, and hence our chopper will maintain a safe distance from the hills,” R.V. Suresh Kumar Reddy, Divisional Manager of APTDC, said, while speaking to a leading newspaper daily.