Planning a trip to Bir Billing? This quaint rural village of Himachal Pradesh is quite popular for paragliding. Many claim that after Lake Como in Italy,Bir Billing is the place to go for paragliding.
In fact,the very first thing you see near Bir is the sky dotted with paragliders.To be clear,Bir is a village in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.Bir has made such a strong association with paragliding that the name “Billing” (location of paragliding launch site) has formed a strong association with it.But Bir Billing is not just about paragliding.From camping and trekking to mountain biking,there is a lot to do and explore in Bir.More on that later.
BIR BILLING LOCATION:-
As we mentioned, Bir is a small village located in the Joginder Nagar valley of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh.Billing, the paragliding launch site, is situated on a grassy plain about 14 km north of Bir. It is at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level.Bir is very close to Dharamshala (64 km, 2 hr),Manali (159 km,5 hr),Kullu (118 km,4 hr).Nearest major city is Palampur (30 km, 1 hr)
The nearest railway station is Ahju (3 km). However, it is a narrow gauge station and connectivity is very limited.The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Pathankot (143 km) which is very well connected to major centers in India.
Nearest airports are Dharamshala (68 km,limited connectivity),Chandigarh (286 km), Delhi (535 km).
Most of the travelers reach Bir entirely by road.There are direct buses (514 km, overnight journey) from Delhi to Bir,and other popular places such as Shimla,Manali,Kullu and Dharamsala. Private cabs and shared cabs are also available from these nearby popular tourist destinations.
WHEN TO VISIT BIR:-
The highest temperature occurs in May,June and July. The highest rainfall occurs in July,August and September.Please note that if you are planning for paragliding, it is not possible in the monsoon period (July-September).
Considering the temperature and rainfall, the best time to visit is from October to April.However, if you are not into paragliding, you can consider going towards the end of the monsoon season. The lager is green during this time, and is a treat for the eyes.
THINGS TO DO IN BIR:-
Paragliding is undoubtedly the most popular activity in Bir.The experience itself is exhilarating,and the view of Bir village from above is breathtaking.As we mentioned,the paragliding launch site is located at Billing, a meadow which is situated 14 km north of Bir.
2.VISIT THE TIBETAN COLONY:-
The Tibetan colony in Bir was established in the 1960s after the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans were exiled from Tibet. This was followed by several Tibetan monasteries representing the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya branches of Buddhism.Apart from several monasteries,the colony also has a Tibetan Handicraft Centre,a Tibetan Children’s Village School,a noodle manufacturing unit (Maza) and several souvenir shops.If you want to experience the rich culture and heritage of the Tibetan people in India,this is the place.
3.VISIT THE MONASTERIES:-
Be mesmerized by the chants of the monks and enjoy the peace it brings to you.Although there are a few monasteries here,here are what we recommend you visit:
Tsering John Monastery in Chaugana
Palpung Monastery in Bhattu
Fourth. In Zongsar Khyatse Monastery
Chokling Monastery in Chaugana
Sherab Ling Monastery in Bhattu
4.VISIT THE BIR TEA FACTORY:-
Bir Cooperative Tea Factory is located in Upper Bir near Bir Bazar.You can take an educational tour of the factory and shop for authentic tea here.
There are agencies that arrange camping and even glamping in Bir.Check them out to see if camping is your thing.You can also camp in Billing.
WHERE TO STAY IN BIR BILLING:-
Bir is not your typical business tourist destination with luxurious star hotels. Most of the accommodation here are homestays run by the local people.There are also some hotels and hostels. If you are looking to stay in a hostel. Zostel in Bir is a popular choice.It is close to the central Chaugan area like most of the hostels. Some other hostels have also opened in Bir recently.
FOOD IN BIR BILLING:-
Again,unlike popular tourist destinations. The food options in Bir are not very many.But there are certainly interesting alternatives. You will find mostly good food in the cafes in Chaugan area. And of course there is always my favorite mountain of Maggi and Chai.
MONEY IN BIR BILLING:-
Please note that there are not many ATMs in Bir. Hence it is advisable to carry enough cash while traveling to Bir. Cards and other electronic payments may not always be reliable because networks are often poor.