My instructor jerked the parachute and as he attempted a 360 degree turn, the parachute jolted in action. As our orientation to ground below changed, I realized the adrenaline rush in my body. We were circling above the landing site spot, getting closer to the earth. Eventually, my feet touched the ground after a great paragliding flight.
Bir – Billing in Himachal Pradesh is recognized as Asia’s best paragliding site! But, the experience at Bir doesn’t end here. You can indulge in a lot of other experiences apart from Pargliding. You can relish some of the best Tibetian dishes or engage your mind & soul in the art of Yoga or Meditation. Here, I am jotting down my experience in Bir, where I recently spent 2 days, tasting the adventure of paragliding & indulging in a lot of other experiences.
But, before that, I’d like to quickly mention different ways to reach Bir. Given that Bir is a lesser explored destination, I thought this would be helpful to many.
How to reach Bir
- Drive down to Bir from Delhi, it’s a 500 KM long drive and the route is very scenic
- Take a train from Delhi to Pathankot. Subsequently, take a cab to reach Bir. The taxi fare according to the taxi centre is Rs 3,000 but, you can negotiate further. I paid Rs 2,500 for the cab
- Fly in Gaggal Airport which is some 60 KMs from Bir. By flying in, you will save a couple of hours in road travel.
- Take a bus & reach Baijnath or Bir road from Delhi. Baijnath is a small town in Himachal Pradesh which is located at a distance of 13 from Bir. The buses to Baijnath are more frequent than Bir road.
How to spend 48 hours in Bir
If you select the way I travelled, you will reach Bir by 1 pm in the afternoon. I took the Dhalaudhar express and reached Pathankot at 9 AM. It took me 4 hours to reach Bir thereafter.
Now, let’s consider 2 pm as the starting point from when you can actually start admiring the unique & offbeat experience Bir can offer.
Day 1: Garden Café – Nyingma Monastery – Deer Park – Milan Cafe
Day 1 would be a combination of scrumptious food & a tryst with spirituality.
Spend a relaxed afternoon at Garden Cafe
On the way towards the paragliding landing site, on the Bir Tibetian colony road, you will come across this prominent café on your right called “Garden Café”. If I had to give one example of how a chilled out café should be, it would be Garden Café, Bir. Try their Pastas & indulge in the sin of savouring delectable pan cakes, soaked in honey & Nutella. If you are still not satiated with the sugar intake, ask them to make cold coffee, topped with chocolate sauce! The time spent here would be totally worth it as you gradually soak in the laid back ambiance of a less touristy place like Bir.
Meet the monks at Nyingma Monastery
After spending a peaceful afternoon at Garden Café, with a happy tummy, start walking towards the landing site for Paragliders. As you walk on the Bir Tibetian Colony road, you will see a Monastery on your right hand side, called Nyingma Monastery. The serenity associated with this monastery will leave you spell bound! There is a small souvenir shop as well where you can shop for mementos. However, I found the shop to be a tad expensive.
Let the evening pass gloriously at Deer Park
Deer park used to be a monastery earlier. But, now, it has been converted into an educational institute where wisdom is passed on the students. They regularly organize various courses which you can participate in. The courses range from learning Yoga to understanding the basics of Buddhism. If possible, you can attend one of the ongoing sessions to know their school of thought or way of life in a better way. But, generally, it is required to register for their courses online in advance. Deer park is again at a walking distance from Nyingma Monastery.
Relish a fresh pizza, hot out of wooden oven, at Milan Café
Milan Café is located in vicinity of the landing site and is famous for its wooden oven pizzas. You can also savour their Hot chocolate or cold coffee. If you are craving for some Indian food amidst the Tibetian setup of Bir, you will be delighted to discover Milan cafe’s menu including authentic Indian food. Grab a chess board as you wait for their freshly cooked food & enjoy a game or two as the chef starts cutting vegetables for you.
As you explore Bir on Day 1, try & find the best deal for paragliding. Any of these local spots can help you find a good paraglider who can be your tandem. If you don’t find the best deal, let me know and I’ll help you enjoy paragliding in Rs 2,000 or even lesser if possible.
At the end of Day 1, head back to your abode and wait for the sun to rise again so that you can experience the thrill of paragliding the next day.
Day 2: Paragliding – Shree Café – Friend’s Café – Arya Marga Yoga – Nyimga Kitchen
Today, you can enjoy paragliding, try some Tibetian food & discover the power of Yoga & meditation.
Enjoy the thrill of Paragliding
Any paraglider that you decide to fly with can pick you up from your accommodation. The paraglider will carry the equipment to the flying site and will accommodate you with him. If you are with a group, you will have to tell him the number of people who would be flying as he has to bring along other paragliders with him, who would act as tandems. The whole paragliding activity will take around 2 hours. You can read my paragliding experience here.
Relish Wai Wai & Hot tea at Shree Cafe
Once you have landed after a thrilling flight, at the landing site, you will find Shree Café. Don’t forget to try their tea & wai wai noodles. Don’t have lunch here as I have another recommendation for you. The landing site is beautiful & I’d surely recommend spending some time here, observing various paragliders manoeuvre their way down in an elegant way!
If you squint your eyes and concentrate at a distance, you will see an impressive structure with gleaming white & golden shades. This is the Palpung Sherabling monastery & I’m going to suggest a trek to reach this beautiful monastery for the next day.
Enjoy lunch at Friend’s cafe
While walking back from the landing site on the Bir Tibetian colony road, you will find Friend’s café on your left, opposite Delek Lodge/Himalayan Café. Ask for Indian food or order some egg items. I really liked their omelette & pan cakes were also delectable. The food is freshly cooked and you wouldn’t regret experimenting with various food items here.
Experience a tryst with spirituality at Arya Marga Yoga centre
Experience the power of five elements within at AryaMarga Yoga center. You can participate in a session of Pancha tattva asana kriya here. If you have practised yoga before and are familiar with the basics, you can opt for their advanced class. If not, beginner session would give you a peek in the fascinating & spiritual world of Yoga. The charges for an hour session are Rs 200-400 (beginner-advanced). You can also opt for their evening meditation classes based on Tantra visualization practices for higher consciousness projection. This is an interesting methodology of meditation and it would be a highly satisfying experience for you to relish & cherish once you are back to civilization.
Dine out amidst cold winds in the garden set up of Nyingma Kitchen
Nyingma Kitchen is located in proximity to the Nyingma Monastery which I recommended on Day 1. The Nyingma Kitchen here is famous for the Tibetian cuisine & its brilliant garden set up. At night, as the dew starts developing on the grass, the whole experience becomes spectacular. Sip their hot coffee or relish a hot chicken broth as your food gets prepared in the kitchen. One recommended item here would be Chicken friend momos. Nyingma kitchen also has inside seating if you feel cold outside on one of the garden tables.
Call it a day as you leave Nyingma Kitchen. Sleep early today and gear up for a trek in the woods on the next day.
Day 3 – Hike to Sherabling Monastery – Delek Lodge Café
Today will be dedicated for the hike to Sherabling Monastery & trying some unique Tibetian items at Delek Lodge Café.
Hike to Palpung Sherabling Monastery
Situated amidst a beautiful landscape, Palpung Sherabling Monastery offers you a chance to hike amidst the woods & get closer to Nature. You can visit this monastery by road as well. But, I’d recommend you to explore the terrains and get lost in woods to spend some time with Nature. The hike is a little exploratory as you have to re-discover the route multiple times. But, there are small villages in the way where you can ask for help.
To opt for the forest hike, you have to cross the landing site & walk until you cross a bridge. After the bridge, you will see some tea plantations on your left. A path will be carved through these tea plantation and it’s your gateway to the fascinating hike for Sherabling Monastery.
The Monastery, however, wouldn’t offer you spectacular views or strikingly unique architecture. But, I personally really liked this 5 KM hike!
You don’t have to necessarily hike your way back. You can opt for a taxi from Sherabling monastery which would charge Rs 200.
Sip some butter tea at Delek Lodge Café
After the hike a butter tea would really do wonders for you! A lesser known variant of tea, this hot beverage will lift your spirits by leaps & bounds. Delek lodge café can also offer delectable food which will help you re-invigorate after the hike.
If you are in mood to try some Tibetian medicine, you can visit Men-Tsee-Khang in Bir
Return back to your stay after having a wonderful meal at Delek Lodge café. If you are returning back the same way you arrived, you will have to leave latest by 6 pm to catch the Dhalaudhar train back to Delhi.
Have you been to Bir before? Do share your experiences with me in the comments below.