Bir- an introduction
Bir - Dhanaari HIll, The charming Indian town of Bir is known worldwide as a destination for ecotourism and meditation studies, and is praised by visitors from all corners of the earth for its natural beauty. Bir is situated in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, amidst paths winding through tea gardens into the forests and mountains to the north. The greater Bir area (which includes Billing, the Tibetan Colony in Chowgan, Ghornala, and Sherab Ling in Bhattu) is home to a diverse community of over a thousand Indian villagers, a Tibetan refugee settlement, and a small but growing international population (including students of meditation and philosophy, volunteers, and seasonal waves of paragliders and other outdoors enthusiasts).
Paragliding in Bir-Billing
Paragliding is one of Bir’s biggest draws for outdoors enthusiasts and thrill seekers. Bir is regarded by international paragliding groups as the second best site in the world for paragliding (after Lake Como in Italy).
The launch point is at approximately 2400 metres (7874 feet) in the meadow on the top of a ridge at Billing (14 km north of Bir), and the landing area is in the fields at the western edge of the Tibetan Colony in Chowgan.
While experienced pilots may bring their own gliders and fly solo, beginners can take tandem flights, in which a skilled instructor takes you up in a two-seated glider. This allows the beginner to have the joy ride
How to reach Bir
Travel Tips: Getting to Bir
Travel to Bir can involve planes, trains, buses, and/or taxi.
The closest airport to Bir is Dharamshala airport, which is actually in Gaggal, about 30-45 minutes south of Dharamshala.www.spicejet.com a nd www.airindia.com have regular flights from delhi to daharmsala
Option 1 — Train to Pathankot + bus/taxi onward to Bir: The most common way to travel to Bir by train is to take a train from Delhi (or wherever your origin may be) to Pathankot/Chakki Bank (two neighbouring train stations in the Punjab, either of which is fine) and then make the rest of the journey to Bir by bus (6-8 hours) or taxi (4-5 hours).
Option 2 — Train to Pathankot + toy train onward to Bir: It is also possible to go almost all the way to Bir by train if one has considerable patience and/or a profound love for trains. There is a charming little toy train that leaves every morning from Pathankot to Ahju, just 3km from Bir (below the Bir Road intersection). Most overnight trains from Delhi (when running on time) reach Pathankot approximately an hour before the toy train leaves, so the connection is doable unless your train from Delhi is quite late (which, of course, is always a possibility, though less likely on Rajdhani and Shatabdhi express trains).
Which option should I choose? The toy train is great for some but not for everyone. The toy train ride is long (around seven hours), as slow as a glacier, and often crowded. Some people find the long and somewhat bumpy journey tiring. For others, the beautiful Himalayan scenery more than compensates for any inconveniences. If a seven-hour train ride with inspiring views sounds like a great meditation to you, don’t miss it. Otherwise, consider bus or taxi. If you do take the toy train, bring a something soft (e.g. a cushion or a thick jacket) to sit on to make the rattly ride more comfortable… and maybe a good book.
From Delhi: Bir is about 12-14 hours from Delhi by bus. From the Inter-state Bus Terminal (ISBT), take a bus to either Baijnath or Bir Road (the latter is closer, but most buses from Delhi only go as far as Baijnath). There are two overnight buses from Delhi to Baijnath, both of which depart mid-evening and arrive early morning. (Note: If your bus terminates at Baijnath, see the ‘From Baijnath’ section below for notes on how to reach your final destination in Bir from Baijnath.)
We can arrenge a private luxury bus from Delhi to Bir @ Rs1200/- person
From Pathankot/Chakki Bank: Jump on any bus heading for Dharamshala, Kangra, Palampur, Baijnath, Mandi, Manali, or Shimla, and then refer to the notes for Dharamshala and Baijnath below.
From Dharamshala: Bir is about four or five hours from Dharamshala by bus, depending on the timing of buses and number of connections. There are three ways to travel from Dharamshala to Bir by bus, listed here starting with the most convenient:
There are two daily direct buses to Bir Road/Upper Bir leaving at 6:00am & 2:00pm from the bus station in (lower) Dharamshala. (About four hours)
Alternatively, you can take a direct bus from Dharamshala to Baijnath, and from there continue onward to Bir either by local bus or by taxi (see ‘From Baijnath’ section immediately below).
If the timing of direct buses to Bir or Baijnath doesn’t work of you, the last-resort options are these: either take a bus to Palampur and change there for any other bus onward to Baijnath or further east, or just hop on any bus heading east from Dharamshala, including those to Jogindernagar, Mandi, Manali, or Shimla, and ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Bir Road (note: if you get to Chauntra or Jogindernagar, you’ve gone too far). This can take anywhere from three to five hours.
From Baijnath: If your bus terminates at Baijnath, you then have the option of traveling the last leg to Bir (20-30 minutes) either by bus or by taxi (about Rs 250). If you choose to go by bus, there are two options. The most convenient is to take one of the direct buses from Baijnath to Bir (which leave about every half hour or so and go all the way to Upper Bir). Alternatively, you can take any bus heading east from Baijnath (e.g. Jogindernagar, Mandi, Manali, or Shimla) and ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Bir Road.
Note : that none of the regular buses go to the Tibetan Colony, so if your destination is in the Colony, you can either take a taxi from wherever your bus drops you or take the a bus to Upper Bir and ask the driver or conductor to drop you off at Chowgan Chowk (the intersection where Bir Road meets Chowgan Road), and then walk west on Chowgan Road about 1km until you reach the Tibetan Colony (about 10 minutes on foot).
Taxi is the fastest and most convenient way of getting to Bir from Pathankot or Dharamshala, but it is also by far the most expensive and the least eco-friendly, so if you come by car, please consider sharing the ride with others.
Taxi from Pathankot to Bir: 4-5 hours, Rs 3500-4000
Taxi from Dharamshala to Bir: 2 hours, Rs 2000-2500
Taxi from Baijnath to Bir: 20 minutes, Rs 300
Taxi from Bir Road (the c
losest stop for most long-distance buses) to Chowgan (including the Tibetan Colony or Deer Park): 5 minutes, Rs 60-80
Taxi from Bir Road to Upper Bir: 10 minutes, Rs 90-100
We can arrenge a taxi for you