Bir Billing – a paradise in the valleys of Himachal Pradesh has been raging from past few years as it is the world’s second highest paragliding site. Having heard and read a lot about this place, I always wanted to explore the place and glide through the sky and watching the whole town with bird’s eye view.
My family always love to travel, explore new places with great enthusiasm, so me, my mother and my younger brother hopped on to the bus to the mountains of Himachal.
It was a weekend gateway from New Delhi. Here’s me telling you the experience to this mesmerizing beauty!
How to reach Bir
Since Bir has become quite a popular tourist spot, there are many direct overnight buses from New Delhi. The buses usually start from Majnu ka Tilla. A comfortable overnight journey of approx. 17 hours, I was extremely excited to finally go to the place I have been wanting to go for so long.
Travelling overnight, we reached Bir in the morning. Once you enter Himachal, there are plethora of mountains welcoming you to hill stations. Fresh morning breeze, greenery all around with mountains that seem like walking besides you, it is altogether a beautiful journey.
The place is often confused as one place Bir Billing. Bir and Billing are two different places. The buses are till Bir, which is a village in the Kangra district, and Billing is the paragliding take-off point, 14 km up a winding road from Bir and 1000 metres higher.
As soon as we reached Bir, I fell in love with the place. So peaceful and quite, and the rain added more freshness to the place. Originally, our plan was to stay at camp in Billing, but due to extreme snowfall in Billing and constant rain shower, we had to stay in Bir. I was a bit disappointed as I was looking forward to stay in Billing, but that is what travelling is all about, welcoming the last minute changes with open arms and smile on your face! 🙂
And I loved the vibes of the place. Nestled with beautiful cafes, monasteries, breathtaking views all around, mountains brooded over the land covered with ghost-grey mist, Bir is surely a heaven on earth.
We stayed at Camp Kasbah, and it was a beautiful place. Surrounded with huge mountains on one side and green lands on the other, it was away from all the prime part of Bir making it even a more amazing stay.
It kept on raining for more than half of the day, and finally around 3 P.M., finally it stopped. We decided to explore Bir. Bir is also important center of the Tibetan exile community, and thus it home of several Buddhist monasteries and institutes. Also, since Bir is a small town, it can be easily explored on foot.
The walk down the main road from our camp site was a bliss. Walking amidst the greenery and tranquility, I was captivated by the magic that the place casted on us. Drizzling and cool breeze, it was simply bliss!
Since it rained almost half of the day, the town was practically empty. The streets was void of any human, and the mountains were covered with mist, and we felt that we had the whole town for ourselves.
A walk of approx. 2 km from our camp, this monastery is located in the center of the Tibetan colony and is one of the popular attractions. On entering, the place easily enchants one in its exquisite beauty, and pious environment. The time we went, it was almost empty. I guess the rainy day had its own charm to have such a beautiful monastery for ourselves for a while.😊
It is a home to a grand stupa and a enchanting statue of Padmasambhava (a legendary Indian Buddhist mystic). The monastery is painted in white and embellished with bright colours, adding to the beauty of this place.
Not only the monastery gives the positive vibes, but it also has unobstructed views of surrounding mountains, and breathtaking views. In my opinion, it is a place not be missed!
Due to the place being famous for past few years, Bir also boasts of some amazing cafes which will put the ones in metropolitan cities to shame. Not only it is a paradise for adventure junkies and nature lovers, it is also a perfect hub for the foodies as the cafes here provide some lip smacking food. Although, the food in all the cafes is on the higher side, and cannot be called as budget eating, but if possible, do try at least one of it.
One such is June 16 which is a little quaint café with aesthetic views of mountains, amazing food and colourful architecture. We had burgers, sandwiches and hot coffee in the chill weather.
The reason behind the name of this café is that the one of the owner (the guy) asked a girl (another owner) out, and they became a couple on this date. Isn't this so cute? Also, the couple are famous professional actors. Nevertheless, this place is so beautiful! So, if you ever go to Bir, do check this place which is on the Tibet road.
This is how our first day went, adoring the beauty all around, inhaling the fresh oxygen which we don't get enough in the hustle bustle of the polluted city and clicking those numerous yet never enough pictures of every nook and corner! The only thing that we were worried about the weather next day because it was cloudy and it kept on drizzling for the whole day, and if the weather will be same the next day, the paragliding will get cancelled.
I woke up early in the morning, and as soon as I went out of the tent, the miraculously vibrant blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds was scattered throughout the sky. After a while, the sunlight grasped the town in its golden fingers indicating the start of another beautiful day.
A morning could not be better than this. The weather was clear, and so was our chance to paraglide. After having breakfast, we left for the enthralling experience that we have been waiting for.! On reaching the main part of the town, the mountains that were hidden in the mist the other day seems to decorate the entire valley drenched in the golden sunlight. What seemed like a deserted town the last day, people came out of their shells to enjoy the beautiful weather.
We hopped on the vehicle which took us to Billing, the paragliding site. The way up was amazing. As we went up, there were scrapes of snow. After a while of ascending, the road was blocked due to construction, so went on foot to the site which was hardly 10-15 min walk.
Our paragliding was booked with extreme flying club, and they are really professional and expert. The best part is that their office is right on the landing ground, and the restaurant here has great food.!
Finally, on reaching the top, crystal white snow was brooded all over the land like a thick blanket. It was my first time being so close to snow, and I was a happy child. We were at a height of 2400 metres, and the whole town was beneath us. Icy air sweeping on face, snow crunching beneath the feet, it was bliss!
The colourful parachutes of the people flying down, snow all at every corner till your eyes can see, it is a paradise. The sky-piercing peaks of Dhauladhar range is also visible from the site, and they are as majestic as any mountain range. After clicking a whole lot of pictures, it was the time we have been waiting for.
At first, the start of the paraglide is bit scary as the snow it very slippery and then running toward the end of the mountain (even though we have an expert pilot with us) can definitely give the goosebumps, but once that hurdle is crossed and you are in the air flying like a bird, it becomes one of the best experience in life.
The experience simply cannot be painted in words. Soaring high in the middle of nowhere, with green lands beneath, snow-clad mountains all around, pearly glowing sky and the cool breeze kissing your face, it is nothing les than magic. I also had a nice conversation with the pilot, and he told me that during the competitions (International level paragliding competitions are held every year), people glide to Manali. Also, it is an expensive affair to participate (approx. 9-10 lacs).
After being in the air for those awesome 25 minutes, I landed, and the sense of ticking off another item from my bucket list was so mediating! This is an activity that I insists everyone should try once. My mother and brother absolutely loved this adventure. My brother, who was not feeling well before, got energized and he was super happy.
After the paragliding and taking ample of pictures, we decided to have lunch at this great pizza place called Himalayan Pizza. I read about the place online, and I have just one word for the pizza – “sumptuous“. The place is quite close to the landing site, and the terrace sitting gives you a wonderful view of the town with colourful paraglides roaring in the sky.
Since we had our return bus in the evening, we explored the place on foot. Lush greenery all around, clear blue skies, snowy mountains all around, I really did not feel like leaving the place.
Me and mummy strolled around, and every nook and corner of this place was spectacular.
Soon, the time came for the worst part of the trip, i.e., time to return to the reality, leaving this paradise behind. With a promise of coming back again, I bid goodbye to this little heaven of Himachal, with beautiful memories.
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