Just before I was about to start my trip to some places in Northern India, I was reminded by a friend of mine about Bir Billing. I read about this place when in 2013 the Pre World Cup Paragliding Championship was held and then the 2015 Paragliding World Cup also got hosted for the 1st time. Since then I had been hoping to make it to Bir Billing but ofcourse I ended up going to other places.
Had my friend not mentioned about it this time I sure would have missed it again. I don’t know how to paraglide so it was tandem for me. Since I was planning to visit Bir in December I had doubts whether Paragliding was possible in the winters as it winters can be windy and it may snow as well. However I took the chance of going there and checking the weather on the day of the glide.
I was traveling to Bir from Delhi and made a mistake of taking a train to Pathankot and then the toy train to Baijnath. There are many Volvo buses (I wasn’t very sure about the location from where they start) that takes around 12hours overnight and drops near Bir.
As I landed in Pathankot, I enquired about the train going to Baijnath and was told of the toy train. Without giving much thoughts I bought the ticket and hopped into the ladies compartment. While the view was excellent, the journey was very tiring. I boarded the train at 10am and reached Baijnath at 5pm or so. Luckily I was carrying some snacks as I hadn’t eaten anything before boarding the toy train and there was almost nothing available enroute. The scenery over the route kept changing as we traveled from the plains to the hills.
While travelling on Indian trains in the normal coaches, you may see many people sitting on the footboard to enjoy the view. And if and when the train runs through a tunnel, the passengers shout to make some noise and have fun.
When the train was nearing Baijnath, the sun was about to set and the view was amazing.
At Baijnath station there was no transportation available however the hostel I was staying at had already told me that they could send a cab if required be. So I decided to wait a while before calling the hotel and luckily I did get a cab within 2mins or so.
The hostel, Zostel- Bir, is part of a chain of hostel in India. They are inexpensive and worth the stay. I do hope they have a branch everywhere in India. I had booked a bed in a 6 bed dorm and my dorm mates were from Delhi, who were also going to tandem paraglide for the 1st time. Been tired from the journey I didn’t have much energy to interact with anyone that night and also because my paragliding was scheduled early next day.
I had booked the tandem flight with a company that was suggested by a friend. I took a cab from the hostel to the landing point from where the participants were taken to the jump point.
Note: if you book through your hotel, the hotel may provide the cab service and take you directly to the jump point.
While waiting at the landing area, I watched many para-gliders flying down. Since this was off season there was not many para-glides in the the sky, however during the peak season, one can see more para-glides than birds in the soaring in the sky.
The drive to the jump point was 45mins and then they prepare the passengers and take flight one by one. I got to watch a few take flight before me….I was excited and nervous. But the 25mins glide down was amazing. My pilot was very humble and nice.
Bir is a small village, situated in the Joginder Nagar Valley of the Dhauladhar Range in the foothills of the Himalayas. Bir became popular mostly after the 2015 Paragliding World Cup, before that only those interested in trekking or spiritual studies and meditation would visit. Bir also has a big Tibetan settlement. Zostel was not far from the Tibetan colony.
After paragliding I hired a cab and went to Sherab Ling monastery. I spent almost 2 hours there listening to the prayer roaming around the place. It was quite enchanting.
From their I just asked the cab to drive around. However for a solo woman traveler India is not a great place, so as it was getting a bit dark I asked the driver to drop me back at the hostel. In the evening, the hostel guests socialized till late night. It was indeed a great experience.
Next day I woke up to watch the sunrise and then took a walk around the Tibetian colony before embarking on my next journey – off to McleodGanj.