All You Need To Know About Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh


Bir is a small town in northern Himachal Pradesh, set against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range of the Indian Himalayas. The place is famous amongst the travel community for paragliding activities.

The launch site is at an elevation of 2400mt, in the meadow of Billing, 18 km north of Bir. The paragliders land at Chowgan, southern edge of Bir. Hence the names of the two places are used in conjugation as Bir Billing.

Bir Billing is also famed for the unique Tibetan culture and the soulful Tibetan monasteries set amidst scenic and peaceful environment.

If you're planning a solo trip to Bir, you should check out this article.

Best things to do in Bir-Billing:

1. Paragliding:

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Photo of All You Need To Know About Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh by Arko Banerjee

This, of course, is the highlight attraction for thrill seeking tourists of Bir Billing. While certified pilots may bring their own gliders and fly solo, beginners can take tandem flights.

Herein the glider is maneuvered by a pilot and the tourist just sits and enjoys having a bird’s eye view of the land below. There are multiple Paragliding operators in Bir Billing and the rates depend on the duration of the ride and bargains.

A 20-25 min stay in the air would cost around INR 2500. Operators also offer their go pro cameras for an additional charge. If the tourist is not carrying his own, this is a must-do deal. The flying season is from September to November. Besides amusement, the village hosts periodic international competitions and events as well.

Tip: Make sure to eat light before paragliding. Spend an hour at Billing before starting your glide as so as to acclimatize to the height. Remember to wear a jacket, even if it is a warm day in Bir Billing, as it is cold up in the air. It is also advisable to check the age sticker of the glider. Since there is no official maintenance program, it would be safer to not opt for a glider that is more than seven years old.

2. Indulge in other Adventure Sports:

Bir Billing also offers Bungee Jumping, rock climbing and Burma Bridge at Temple Run Adventure. Around 5km from Bir, Bangoru waterfall is a small but beautiful waterfall.

The adventure sports company is based around this spot. Few tourists indulge in mountain biking and hang-gliding as well. There are agencies and shops in Bir Bazar which rent out bikes. There are expert riders who accompany the tourists as well.

Apart from muscle-wrecking adventure sports, leisurely walks along the banks of Bir River is also preferred by tourists. The tranquility of the experience calms the soul of every traveller looking for serenity and peace.

3. Explore the Monasteries:

Courtesy Sonam SIngh - The Transit Story

Photo of All You Need To Know About Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh by Arko Banerjee

At an altitude of 1525 meters, the monasteries and Shedras (monastic colleges) of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in Bir Billing never fail to mesmerize.

Courtesy Ila Reddy : Tripoto

Photo of Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat, Bhattu Uparla by Arko Banerjee

Palpung Sherabling Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Bir. The monastery is located in Bhattu, around 6 km from the Tibetan Colony Market. Spread across 30 acres of land, the monastery has 250 monks' quarters, three shrine halls and six shrine rooms and bears all the features of traditional Tibetan architecture. It offers both long term and short term courses in meditation and yoga.

Courtesy Nidhi Saini : Tripoto

Photo of Tsering Jong Monastery, Chaugan by Arko Banerjee

The Tsering Jong Monastery houses a café within its premises. Prayer flags fluttering in the air and the chants of monks in unison have a calming effect on the mind and soul of the traveller visiting this place.

Chokling Monastery, Courtesy Nidhi Saini : Tripoto

Photo of All You Need To Know About Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh by Arko Banerjee

The Pema Ewan Chokgyur Gyurme Ling Monastery, popularly called the Chokling monastery, located within the Tibetan colony has an attractive stupa, and a magnificent statue of Padmasambhava. It also served as the setting for Khyentse Norbu’s 1999 feature film “The Cup”.

Palyul Choekhorling Monastery aka Nyingmapa Monastery is home to about 170 monks. The Nyingmapa School was the first Buddhist school in Tibet. Today, the school is strong in eastern Tibet, United States, and in India. This monastery offers free education, lodging, clothing, medical care, and food for all the monks studying here.

Bir Dirru Sakya Monastery and Drikung Dozin Theckcho Ling Monastery are other two popular monasteries in and around Bir. There are also several non-monastic educational institutes in the Bir area whose programs include periodic courses in Buddhist philosophy and practice. Deer Park Institute and Dharmalaya Institute both offer periodic classes, retreats, and seminars on a variety of topics including philosophy, meditation, health, ecology, and more. Accommodation is available at both centres for the participants.

4. Volunteer at the Dharmalaya Institute:

Dharmalaya Institute is a Non Government Organisation devoted to education, service, and compassionate living, with a practical focus on sustainable village development, contemplative service-learning and immersive ecotourism. The institute organises mediation and work retreats which give students and volunteers long-term opportunities to indulge in organic farming, green job skills training for local villagers, a tree-planting project, etc.

The Deer Park Institute is home to some of the most sought after monks who teach varied topics like Buddhist culture, yoga and meditation techniques. Tourists may learn techniques of meditation at the Deer Park Institute.

5. Go for Trekking:

There are two nice treks for enthusiasts, Tattani and the Hanuman Garh trek.

Tattani (also known as Tattapani) is famous for its natural hot sulfur spring gushing at a temperature of upto sixty five degrees Celsius. The place is not to be confused with Tattapani in Mandi, which is also in Himachal Pradesh.

The water has remedial properties and it provides relief to individuals affected by joint pain or any kind of disease of the skin. Besides being a perfect place for enjoyment and relaxation, the place is religiously sanctified as well. Holy dips are taken on Baisakhi day (April), in the occasion of the major agricultural festival. Trek to Tattani begins at the village of Bari.

Here's a complete guide to explore Kangra - check it out!

Hanuman Garh offers breadth-taking views of the Dhauladhar range. However, the trek beginning at Billing, is lengthy and certainly not recommended for amateurs.

One may also trek to the Bangoru Waterfall, at a distance of 4.5 Km from Tibetan Colony. The path to this waterfall is quite easy, leading towards the Gunehar Village. The pristine setting lends amazing pictures that one could flaunt over your social media.

6. Experience Yoga of the ancient lineage:

Tourists may spend a couple of hours relaxing at the yoga retreat - AryaMarga. Commemorating the old principles of yoga, this place features programs associated with the four stages of yoga separately, namely Hatha, Mantra, Kundalini, and Samadhi. There are different courses based exclusively on specific techniques based on physical, mental and sensual health.

7. Camping at Billing:

Even if the tourist is not interested in paragliding, the take-off site offers exclusive views of sunset. The sky lights up in different hues of orange and pink and with the mountains in the background, it truly is a wonderful sight to watch.

Billing is also the starting point of the Rajgundha Trek and there are several camps set here for people who are interested in camping for a night. Loads of people will be found preparing for their tandem flight here. Honestly, it is quite a joy to watch people run and take off from the edge of the peak.

Check out Sanvi's experience of Rajgundha Trek.

8. Visit Baijnath:

This is an 800 year old temple, located 12 km from Bir, dedicated to Lord Shiva. He is worshipped as the “Lord of the physicians” in this temple. The town is located on the left bank of the river Binwa, a tributary of river Beas. The temple is a Nagara style Hindu Temple, constructed in 1204 AD. Numerous idols are carved on the walls of the temple.

9. Visit Bir Tea factory:

The Chaugan Tea Gardens is situated just at the southern end of the main Bir Bazaar. This is a longstanding Bir cooperative, which offers tours for those interested in the process of tea production. It has vast area of land covered with tea plantations on hilly slopes and prayer flags gently floating above them, making it a visual treat for the tourists.

10. Ride the Toy Train:

While the Shimla-Kalka route is very popular in Himachal, a toy train travelling through the gorgeous landscapes of Kangra Valley is also thoroughly enjoyable.

The journey starts at Joginder Nagar, around half an hour from Bir and ends at Pathankot in Punjab. It crosses 10 stations, passing through little villages, wooden bridges and stunning vistas of the Himachal.

Trains ply daily, and you can check the timetable for regular updates.

Courtesy Neethu : Tripoto

Photo of All You Need To Know About Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh by Arko Banerjee

How to reach Bir?

By Air: Since there is no direct flight to Bir, one has to travel to the Kangra-Gaggal Airport which connects the national capital with Himachal Pradesh. The airport is located 12 km from Dharamshala, and 14km from the Railway station at Kangra. Bir is around 68 km from this airport.

By Road: With the Dhauladhar ranges standing tall, roads leading to Bir are picturesque. Several national highways connect Bir to adjacent cities, which make it easy to drive up to this beautiful place from anywhere in India. Luxury overnight busses are also available from Dharamshala, Palampur and Delhi to Bir. Tourists may also break the journey at Baijnath, wherefrom buses ply to upper Bir frequently. The total journey from Delhi (around 490 km) takes almost 13 hours to complete.

By Rail: While the nearest railway station is the Ahju Railway station, located 3 km from Bir, it is not well-connected to other cities of the country. Hence, Pathankot is the fully operational station nearest to Bir. One may hire a taxi for the 143 km journey from Pathankot to Bir.

Where to Stay in Bir Billing?

Bir Billing is one of the most idyllic places for a holiday, a retreat, or an adventure in the Indian Himalayas. The greater Bir area offers a range of accommodation options, including some of the best ecotourism destinations in Himachal Pradesh.

The places of stay are majorly concentrated around three main areas: Tibetan Colony, Chowgan and Bir proper.

La Maison is a boutique Bed and Breakfast situated in Bir. It offers cosy comfortable rooms for the family along with home-cooked meals.

Around 18 km from Bir, Taragarh Palace Hotel is a luxury heritage hotel set in a picturesque residential estate nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. The property belongs to the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Set in Bīr, The Trippy Tribe and The Hosteller offer family rooms and dormitory beds. They have a shared lounge and terrace offering amazing views of the mountain.

Zostel in Bir is also a dreamy place to be!

Foreigners (anyone other than Indian, Tibetan, Nepali and Bhutanese) wishing to stay overnight in the Bir Tibetan Colony will need to apply for a Protected Area Permit (PAP) from the Indian Government.

Where to Eat in Bir?

Bir is famous for the momos and other Tibetan cuisine. Besides variety of soups and tea, the mutton momo served at the restaurant of Chokling Guesthouse (near the monastery) is highly recommended.

Courtesy Anmol Pathak: Tripoto

Photo of Garden Cafe, Chaugan by Arko Banerjee

The Garden Café is set up amidst a garden with pebbled ground, tree shade and books for company. French-toast, omelettes and the cold coffee are the highlight amongst the freshly prepared food served in the restaurant. It also houses a cute Tibetan shop where the tourist could find souvenirs to take back home.

Run by a monk himself, Emaho Bir Bistro is another café recommended for the mutton snack items. This place offers culinary options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Glider’s Pizzeria, near the landing site, is famous for wooden-baked pizzas. Avva’s Café is recommended for authentic South Indian dishes in Bir.

Here are the 6 best cafes in Bir that you can't afford to miss!

Best time to visit Bir:

Being a hill station Bir has a moderately cool climate throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the place is in the summers, during the months of April-June. The winters are not recommended to visit the hill station because of the chilly weather. Monsoons must also be avoided for incessant rains may cause landslides.

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