There are many places in India where you can go for paragliding but no place offers a view like Bir Billing. A centre for eco-tourism, Bir is a home to many Tibetan refugees and Buddhist monasteries. When we decided to visit Bir, we were only looking forward to a peaceful stay and an incredible paragliding experience, little did we know about the cute little cafes and scrumptious Tibetan food offered in the locality.
We usually prefer taking the HRTC buses while travelling to Himachal Pradesh. It’s easy to book, they stick to the schedule and provide a decent service. But this time, we couldn’t get a seat due to the long weekend rush. After browsing through many options and recommendations online, we came across Laxmi Holidays and our transit issue was sorted!
Bir is around 520 km from Delhi and this is how you can reach there-
1.Bus: You can take a direct HRTC or Laxmi Holiday Volvo to Bir.
2.Train: You can take a train from Delhi to Pathankot, which takes about 12-13 hours. Once you are in Pathankot, hop-on the narrow gauge Toy Train that runs from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar/Baijnath with is about 13km away from Bir. You can easily find a cab from Baijnath to Bir.
3.Flight: You can take a flight from Delhi to Dharamshala, which is just 65 km. away from Bir. From Dharamshala, get a cab to Bir for Rs. 1800.
There is another option and probably the best one- DRIVE. We know 520 km is too much to drive in one go, but hey! what are friends for? You can have your own Dil Chahta Hai (drive) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara (adventure sport) moments in the hills, only a low budget version!
It was a long and tiring bus ride to Bir and all we wanted to do was get to our cottage, quickly freshen-up and have breakfast. Our bus dropped us at Chowgan Chowk, which is about a kilometre away from Karma’s Cottages, a cute place we stumbled upon on Airbnb and yes, Vikas had his fair share of bad jokes on the name. Karma’s cottages (named after its owner) is a cluster of small 2-room cottages named after the hills and places around Bir. We stayed in the Dalhousie Cottage. It had a small patio, bamboo chairs and 2 adorable dogs. If you are planning a trip to Bir and looking for a place to stay, you can give Karma a call (you see why it’s funny?) on +91 9805126763. He’d be more than happy to rent you a 2-room cottage for only Rs. 1500/night.
THINGS TO DO IN BIR
After having some fresh fruits, toasts and coffee, we were off to explore this beautiful place with our stomachs full and our faces lit with happiness.
Bir is a very small village and if you want to take some time off and be in a place where you don’t have to socialise, think or engage with any worldly affairs, then Bir is exactly where you need to be. You automatically develop an understanding with people around you, after all, they are there for the same reason as you are. And probably that’s why these villagers have been so successful in maintaining peace in the valley. The calm and the silence in the valley eventually gets to you and we only realised it after walking for 2 km, when we stopped at the paragliding landing site. The sky was full of colours, eccentric faces full of joy and paragliding chutes flying right above our heads.
We decided to take a break at the Cafe Silver Linings and loved it so much that we sat there forever. After seeing the sunset from the valley, we decided to head to the Garden Cafe which was right in front of our cottage, ate till we could barely move and decided to call it a day.
We had an early start to the day. Karma had arranged an open jeep to take us to Billing (take-off site) with our pilots. We quickly had a light breakfast, light because we had a 14 km long ride and a flight ahead of us. The road uphill was patchy and did spin our heads a little but picture this- sitting in an open jeep, driving at 60 km/hr uphill and listening to some really good music while the jeep passes by dense forest, life couldn’t have been any better. After all, it was a thrill in itself.
It took us 30 minutes to reach Billing, which is the take-off site. The view from Billing was mesmerising. We enjoyed the view of Dhauladhar Ranges while the pilots gave us the pep talk. Once harnessed, we were ready to take-off!
We spent about 20 minutes in the air, enjoying the adrenaline rush.
After landing in Bir, we were so soaked into the recent experience that we just wanted to be quiet and relive it in our minds a couple of times, enough to make sure that it stays intact in our memories for a long, very long time. We took a break and had some mouth watering creamy pasta at the Cafe Silver Linings.
It was our last day in Bir and like every other trip, we just didn’t want to leave. After having a delicious breakfast at the Garden Cafe, we visited the Tibetan Handicraft Centre, Chokling Gompa (monastery) and some local food joints in the Tibetan Colony.
The day just passed in the blink of an eye and we packed our bags and boarded our bus to Delhi.
Budget (for one)
Laxmi Holidays Volvo for Delhi ⇄ Bir: Rs. 2300
Paragliding: Rs. 2000 (Rs. 500 extra for the GoPro video)
Karma’s Guest House: Rs. 1500/night
Food: Rs. 800/day
Places to see
Billing: 14 km from Bir
Landing Site: 2 km from Karma’s place
Tibetan Handicraft Centre: Bir Village
Chokling Gompa (monastery): Tibetan Colony
Enjoy the view of Dhauladhar Range with #traversedlands 😁
Take a weekend off and treat yourself with some adrenaline rush, creamy pasta and Tibetan hymns in Bir.