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Gazing out through the window next to my desk, I casually tell my friend Somya how sad and gloomy the Delhi sky looks. I reminiscence my childhood days when the sky was blue, you could see snow like white clouds through which the bright yellow sun used to shine. The sun providing warmth in the cold chilly winters of Delhi was pure bliss. I tell her my favourite thing to do as a kid was to gaze at the twinkling stars in the night or spot a shooting star and quickly fold my hands, shut my eyes and pray for a silly wish to come true. But sadly, the blue sky and stars cannot be caught or endured. She tells me how just a couple of weeks back she was in Ladakh, where it seemed that the sky had worn a blanket of stars and it was completely filled with those bright & tinkly bodies, making the sky beautiful than ever. “Ye haasin wadiyan, ye khula aasman” was a feeling more than a song when you stand in the valleys of Ladakh.  

Paragliding

Listening to her paradise-like experience in Ladakh, my face fills up with despair. I tell her how the last holiday I took was two years ago. The next day I reach office at my usual time and see Somya grin ear to ear. She tells me she was up all night thinking about how a little getaway over the weekend in the hills will be perfect for us away from the strenuous and stressful workload and the contaminated carbon emissions winds of the city. I screech in happiness upon hearing this delightful news. We ask our friend Abeer to join us and in less than a second she agrees. 

We start searching for the most ideal and accessible hill stations fro Delhi that won’t be jam-packed by travellers this time of the month. I recall how my friend went to this place called Bir Billing a while back and had the most heavenly experience. I quickly opened my browser tab and look up information about Bir Billing. This is what I came across.

A LITTLE INSIGHT

Bir Billing is found near the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh. People across the world travel to study ecotourism and meditation. The place has a prominent Tibetian presence that can be witnessed. The most prevalent in the area is the Tibetian colony that is found in the outskirts of Bir. The colony came into form around 1960 when Dalai Lama left Tibet amidst chaos in China. He travelled for two weeks to reach India. Following his exile, Chokling Rinpoche formed the Bir Tibetan Colony. The Tibetian colony is home to many Tibetian monasteries, institutes, schools, medical centres, eateries, accommodation facilities, a Tibetian handicraft centre and much more. Bir billing came into the limelight after it hosted the first paragliding world cup in 2016.

It is famously called the Paragliding capital of India and is the second-best paragliding site in the world. Bir is the take-off spot and Billing is the landing point for Paragliding. Bir Billing provides the aptest condition for paragliding. Paragliding requires extremely smooth winds for a perfect takeoff. The correct measure of cloud base and suitable air currents drag paragliders and people willing to experience this adventure sport from all corners of the world. Bir Billing is actually the hub spot for people who want to become paraglider guides. Numerous courses are taught in Bir Billing. The smaller course stretches for a  period of ten days and the fees for it is 30,000. A longer paragliding course extends for a duration of 30 days. The fees charged is approximately 50,000. Many solo paragliders also come to Bir Billing to benefit from the ideal conditions.

Paragliding In Bir Billing

A not so crowded place to elope over the weekend, Bir Billing seemed like the perfect option. We hired a taxi with a designated chauffeur that will take us to our holiday destination. The three of us, decide that the 15th of November is the perfect date for us to leave for Bir Billing. The day arrives and I can’t contain my excitement. After finishing my work with absolutely zero will and excitement I can no longer contain, we finally head out. After grabbing a bag full of snacks, and water for our ride we start our journey. An hour and a half into our ride, me and my friends are starving for food. Without putting too much thought, we decide to have dinner at the most famous place for road travels from Delhi to the northern part of India. The Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba is popular for its delicious meals. Every dish, sweets, or drinks that you could probably imagine is present inside the outlet. The most preferred include the mouth-watering aloo paranthas. After filling our stomachs and clicking a couple of pictures we started our journey again.

It is around 4 pm, I rub my eyes and look out of the window and the sun is still not out. The food overload at the Dhaba caused me to doze off. I asked my driver where we are, and he mentions we are just a couple of minutes away from entering the hilly region of Himachal Pradesh. I obviously cannot contain my enthusiasm, and have my eyes fixed out to witness the glorious scenic route. My friend Somya also wakes up and both of us are now looking up in the sky waiting for the sun to come out. The sun takes its own sweet time but is finally out. The most stunning sunset peeping through the mountains forming the most stunning spread of vibrant colours. The sky is blue with a hint of orange and yellow. We obviously have our cameras out but, no amount of words or pictures can describe what our eyes saw at the early dawn. 

It starts drizzling and we stop for breakfast at a cafe called Maggi Point. A flight of green stairs leads us inside the cafe. Apart from a lovely old couple running the cafe and providing us with the most scrumptious breakfast early in the morning, we are greeted by the cutest golden retriever named Rocky. Abeer is recalled of her dog back home. In no time he sleeps on her lap. The most heartwarming sight you will ever get to see. Just 7 km away from Maggi Point, we head to Mcleodganj. 

Dharamshala City

It is around 11 am and we are in Mcleodganj. Since we were short of time we decided only to trek to the well-known Bhagsunag Waterfall. We pass by many shops that sell souvenirs and junk jewellery for you to buy. We pass by the Bhagsu Nag temple and begin our trek. The trek is a little steep. The path is slightly rocky and the stairs are uneven. So, you might want to pace yourself and not rush into it. Whenever you feel tired keep drinking the fresh cold water coming out of pipes to refresh yourselves. After some huffing and puffing, we finally reach the waterfalls and it is as spectacular as one can imagine. We sit on the little cosy corner with jute chairs that have been created for tourists to enjoy and cherish the stunning view. A little while later when we have finally caught our breaths when we notice a Shiva cafe board that is just 2 km away. We decide to head to the cafe as the distance didn’t seem much. Just 2 mins of walking, me and Somya have out probably said it loud a hundred times and thought about it approximately a million times of dropping the idea and heading back to our car. The path to the cafe will make you think that too. It will also make you think if the board was just to mess with you or is it worth the hassle but, Abeer Motivates us to continue walking. Let me tell you, all the effort was worth the hassle. The Shiva Cafe is what you probably didn’t imagine. The architecture is beautiful. The cafe has mattresses laid out with tables. A black coffee, pizza, sandwich and few Instagram stories later we head back to where our car had been parked. 

McLeod Ganj to Bir Billing is just 3 hours away. The path is lit with vibrant, and colourful cottages that will want you to reside here forever. Around 5 pm we enter our camp stay Shivarama Glamping. As the three of us were looking for a nice camping experience, we booked the Shivirama Glamping that is famous for its accommodation facility in Bir Billing. Since we were there only for a night it was the perfect option for us. Apart from the camp-like experience, they included dinner and breakfast in our package. Bonfire night was also organized that made the evening perfect. If you are planning to stay here then you can choose a package according to your requirements. 

The next day arrives and I am jumping with excitement. The day I have been waiting for the longest time. Paragliding has always featured on top of my adventure bucket list and since Bir Billing is the Paragliding capital, it couldn’t get more perfect. We bid adieu to our campsite and head straight to Billing. Many paragliding experts and instructors are present there. We talk to them about availing their services. I had read online that they charge 2000 rupees for paragliding and an extra 500 rupees if you want to capture your experience on a GoPro. Abeer with her great bargaining skills got it down 1850 rupees. They made us sign some documents and in a minute we were sitting on the back of a camper heading straight to Bir. Approximately 40 mins later we reached Bir. Bir is the take off-site and is 8000 ft. above sea level. My instructor straps the gear on me quickly and I am ready. They hand me the camera and pull me downwards adding weight and some flight. Before I could even prepare myself, I am already in the middle of nowhere. My guide asks me how I feel and I don’t think so I have been short of words. I am dumbfounded and absolutely awestruck at the magnitude at which I am. A seat is made for you to sit, so, I can easily say that this probably the most comfortable seat I have ever sat on. The birds-eye view of the dense green trees or the towering mountains adjacent to me is a view I will never forget. In 15 to 20 mins we land at Billing, the Landing site. I am definitely sure that I am never going to forget the mammoth of height I was at and will surely cherish it my entire life. And if lucky enough will definitely come back to feel this emotion again.

Bhagsu Nag Waterfall

After this massive experience, I am starving. So, we quickly decide to head out to a cafe for food. Bir Billing is filled with Instagram perfect cafes.

Below is a list of cafes you might want to visit.

Also Read:- TOP 10 SUMMER FESTIVALS OF INDIA

1. Garden cafe
A beautiful garden set up with delicious food to choose from, the Garden Cafe is a must-visit. Don’t forget to order the sinful chocolate pancakes from here.
Best Cafes in Bir Billing
2. Glider’s Pizzeria

The Glider’s Pizzeria is famous for baking the best pizzas of Bir Billing. The cosy and comfortable cafe makes for a nice place to have your meal. It is slightly on the expensive side so, do keep your budget in mind before heading to the cafe.

Bir Billing Cafe
3. Silver Linings Café

Another tourist favourite, the Silver Linings Café is a must-visit of Bir Billing. This cute cafe has a small library through which you can pick books to read for the time your food is being prepared. Try the coffee and dessert for an enriching experience.

Cafes in Bir - Billing
4. Avva’s Café

Avva’s Café is a budget-friendly cafe. It is known for its delicious south Indian food like dosa and idlis. it is located next to a farm, so you will definitely enjoy having your food while sitting in the laps of nature.

Avva’s Café
5. Byron Bay Café

The Byron Bay Café is a cosy cafe that offers majorly organic dishes to its customers. Visit for the unusual food and beautiful setting.

We fill our stomachs with delicious food and quickly head back to the city.

Bir Billing Cafes

NOT JUST A PARAGLIDING CAPITAL

  • The Bir road is packed with cute cafes that offer delicious food and drinks. You can shop great Tibetan souvenirs like junk jewellery, intricate and hand-woven shawls, brass wind chimes, woollen shrugs, sweaters and much more can be shopped.
  • Experience how the Tibetans live by visiting the Tibetan colony. The colony has everything that you can ask. Monasteries and temples to practice the chanting of Buddhism. the famous deer park institute that attracts thousands of students for its courses that revolves around classical India wisdom. The course includes Buddhist teachings, language learning and the art of sketching and film-making. There is an accommodation facility available for registered students that can hold up to the strength of a hundred people.
  • Just a kilometre away from Bir is the serene Gunehar village. The village attracts tourists from all corners of the country to experience the Gunehar waterfalls. The waterfalls have a height of 100 ft. a little trek around the village will land you up to the waterfalls. the crystalline and transparent water accompanied by the rocky landscapes is a sight to capture. The Dhauladhar mountain behind the waterfalls enhances the stunning view visible to the naked eye. you can also enjoy jeep rides or a hike to explore the village.
  • The Bir tea factory found near the Bir market. It covers a mile-long area where women are found plucking leaves and churning it into the final products. People willing to explore the entire process and steps that are involved in making and production of the tea leaves can spend time inside the factory.
  • The Sunset point from Bir to Ghodnala is one of the most beautiful treks of the place. The trek starts from Bir passing through the Dhani village. You will be able to easily walk towards the sunset point as there are many villagers who are extremely friendly and offer a helpful tip for you to cover the trek. The trek is an absolutely exquisite piece of nature where you can see a wide variety of trees and shrubs. A stunning sky and a peaceful trek to the sunset point make for a mesmerizing and worthful trek. You can also choose to stay at the sunset point. Many options for an overnight stay at the tents are also available. There are markets where you can shop for some famous kidney beans and woollens.
  • The Chokling Monastery or the Pema Ewan Chokgyur Gyurme Ling is one of the most admired monasteries of Bir. Built-in 1960, it is known for the fascinating statue of Padmasambhava. Apart from that, many stupas, sanctuaries and priests can be prominently seen
  • The Dharmalaya Institute offers various courses to people around the world on the environment. courses that teach organic farming, sustainable village development, green building and much more can be studied. Other things like yoga and meditation are also taught to students to understand the calming properties that the environment affects you and the people around.
Billing - Paragliding take off point

HOW TO REACH

By Air– A flight for Delhi to Dharamshala is an expensive option. Since you will have to take a taxi or cab to Bir.

By Train– there isn’t any direct railway connectivity to Bir. Take a train from Delhi to Pathankot. From there you can board a bus or take a toy train to Paprola. Hire a cab to Bir from Paprola. 

By Bus– The most affordable option for Bir Billing is to take a bus from Delhi to Baijnath. Take a cab from Bajinath to Bir.