Bir Billing take off-site is one of the world’s top 5 places for Paragliding and 2nd highest in the world. Billing lies in the Himachal Pradesh State of India at an altitude of 2400 Meters. Paragliding can be done solo and Tandem. Bir Billing successfully hosted the paragliding world cup in 2015. Many pilots from around the world participated.
Bir Billing and Barot Valley complete guide
The paragliding take-off point is Billing which is 14Kms from Bir. You can reach Billing by road or trek through the mountains. By road, it will take you approx 30 minutes and the trek will take 3-4 hours as per your speed. Landing happens at Bir near the Tibetan colony. The total flight is of 25-30 Minutes. You have an option to attach Go Pro along with your Glider for recording your flight.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit is from March to May and then from October to November as wind speed is perfect at that time. July to September is closed for paragliding due to Monsoons. During winters paragliding experience is completely different from what you have in summers as surrounding peaks are covered in Snow. The view changes from greenery to complete Snow. During winters January – February is the perfect time to witness Dhauladhar ranges while paragliding. Do carry a warm jacket as temperatures are 6-7 Degree lower than the take off-site.
With regards to safety Bir Billing is quite safe as all the pilots have a lot of experience in flying and also climatic condition makes it the perfect and safest place to fly. During takeoff, most of the time gliders open up and lift you up in the sky without any difficulties. The pilots are also trained to handle bad weather conditions making it the safest place to do Paragliding.
When I decided to undertake the adventure myself, I found that the experience was very thrilling and mesmerizing at the same time. Here's how I spent my days in Bir Billing and Barot valley.
8th April 2016
- The trip initially meant for 5 people at the end turned out that only I was left alone. I decided to go alone and that was it, my journey started.
- I told my Dad to drop me at ISBT Kashmiri Gate. It was 22:00 hours at that time. I reached the ISBT Kashmiri gate at 11 pm. During my time in the car, I was thinking about what will I do, how will I reach and all that because initially it was meant to be a car trip to Bir with my 4 friends.
- I got down from the car hugged my Dad and started walking towards the BUS STAND. After inquiring I came to know that direct Volvo to Baijnath (Nearest Bus Station to Bir) was full and was about to leave. There was a line of people shouting at the HRTC conductors to give them the tickets of a local bus which was going to Kangra valley. I also got into the line as I knew from Kangra I will get a bus to Baijnath.
- The best roadways of India had one major problem of selling local bus tickets in Delhi. There was one conductor with 3-4 lines. There was no system or anyone trying to make a single line. As I was at the end of the line tickets were sold out and the bus went away.
- It was 11.30 pm and I was left thinking about what to do. My mind started thinking about other options. I cut my journey into 3-4 half. The first half was reaching Chandigarh by VOLVO which was standing next to HRTC and had a small line. I thought of reaching Chandigarh first and from there I will take the CTU(Chandigarh transport undertaking) bus till Baijnath.
- I took the Punjab roadways Volvo which departed at 23:55 Hours. The cost was INR 520.
9th April 2016
- The Volvo reached Chandigarh at 04:00 Hours at sector 17 Chandigarh bus stand. As Himachal buses stand at sec 43 bus stand I took the auto which cost me INR 100. On reaching SEC 43, the situation got annoying. There was a single bus to Kangra already full and a huge line was there for the tickets.
- Due to the Hindu festival of Navratri, all buses were jam-packed. I met 2-3 people who were also going towards Kangra and they told me they have been waiting for 2 Hours. On inquiring with HRTC officials they said most of the buses are coming from Delhi and are already Full.
- CTU operators told the Baijnath bus will come at 06:30 Hours. You can wait until then. On seeing the situation I was not sure if I will get the ticket for this bus also. I searched for people going to Kangra and in the end, found four people who were willing to take a cab. On asking cab fares best price was 4200 drop to Kangra and we all agreed. We left Chandigarh Sec 43 bus stand at 04:45 Hours.
- The journey till Kangra was sleepy. Taking 10 min tea break in between we reached Kangra Bus stand at 09:15 Hours
- I said goodbye to the other 4 people, inquired about buses till Baijnath and came to know frequent buses run on this route. I took the local HRTC bus from Kangra at 09:40 Hours. The bus price was INR 75 till Baijnath.
- The journey from Kangra to Baijnath was amazing with beautiful meadows and a lot of greenery on both sides of the road. As I reached Palampur bus stand the landscape slowly changed from the valley to hills. Palampur is a beautiful city in Kangra district which is famous for its tea gardens and also the famous toy train that passes through these tea gardens.
- The bus reached Baijnath at 12:10 Hours. I got down and asked for the Bir bus. A bus was standing right next to me which was going to Bir. Aggarwal bus services operate from Palampur to Bir via Baijnath. It’s a MINIBUS and charges are INR 20 till BIR.
- As the journey from Baijnath to Bir started, soon hills were gone and there came the greenery all over. Tea gardens, Step farming, etc. Bir was all about greenery and of course paragliding.
- During the journey, you could see Paragliders in the sky and it felt nice to be in a place like this. We entered Bir from the Tibetan colony. Some people got down there while others like me went up till the Bir Bus stop which is at the end of Bir (where my tour operator office was located). I reached Bir at 13:00 hours.
- When I reached there I asked them to provide me temporary room for changing and to freshen up as I had booked camps at BILLING. The manager was very generous and the best one at Bir to offer all the activities. I got a room with an attached washroom wherein I stayed for 1-2 hours.
- I plugged in my Bose speakers and relaxed in the room for a while.
- I left the room at 14:00 hours as the trek to BILLING had to start at 15:00 hours, I thought of wandering the upper Bir local market. There was not much to look for as all the attractions is at lower Bir (Tibetan colony). I took the road to Gunehar village for a walk which was peaceful.
- There were 2-3 more groups that had solo travelers like me. As we all met and introduced ourselves, 2 more deiced to trek with me to Billing while others went on Car. We three along with our guide started the Trek to Billing.
- We started the trek at 15:30 Hours. The trek was amazing with a stream flowing alongside. As we reached halfway walkable path changed to boulders for 1-2 Kms. A worth trek through the Himalayan forest. We stopped 4-5 times with 4-5 min breaks each time. The trek ended on the billing road, 1km before billing. Total trek time was 2 hours and 30 mins as we reached billing road at 18:00 hours. The average time of the trek is 3-3.5 hours.
- Our camps were located on one side of the only two dhabas in Billing. The view from Billing was mesmerizing. There were 4-5 camps in total at that time as not many people decided to camp. As the temperature slowly dipped, the night sky took the center stage.
- Billing had 4-5 paths wherein you can have a long walk alongside nature. From our campsite, we could see the last few para-gliders taking off.
- After enjoying music, bonfire, and chicken, around 22:00 hours I dozed off as I was tired. The night sky was looking awesome.
10th April 2016
- I woke up as usual late around 07:45 hours and saw most of the other guys were already up and ready for paragliding. I packed my bag, got freshen up and had a walk down the hill to get a feel of the morning at Billing.
- Breakfast was ready and I was in time to have mine. I had bread omelet and hot tea. The temperature was perfect with a little chill. Suggestion - Don’t have a heavy breakfast as you will be doing paragliding soon.
- Around 09:00 hours our pilots came from Bir and finally the moment had arrived. I had a small discussion with my Pilot who had 15 years of experience. After 10-15 minutes of conversation, it was time to get harnessed. The camera was attached to the harness strings so that it doesn’t fall off. After checking all the harness it was time to run towards the valley which was tough. After pumping myself I said a yes, and started running towards the valley.
- Soon I was up in air shouting and enjoying the ride. The view was the kind that I will never be able to explain. You need to go and feel yourself. It was like life is so so so beautiful, it’s just how you look at it. After enjoying my 20 minutes of the ride we descended down to Bir landing site.
- After doing 2-3 stunts during the descend my ride came to an end. Make sure during the descend you pose as there is a photographer down who will be clicking all your photos irrespective of you buy it or not. Minimal charges are there if you’re interested in getting photos.
- The landing site is an open green area at the end of the Tibetan colony road. Post paragliding you can relax there and enjoy the sunbath.
- I reached the landing site around 11:15 hours and after getting videos and pictures I was free to explore Bir. As I needed to change, the tour operator again gave me a room for 1 hour free of cost to get freshen up and relax.
- I had booked a return bus to Delhi from Baijnath which was scheduled to depart at 20:00 hours.
- As I had a lot of time I decided to go to Barot valley – The unexplored valley. I inquired about buses but came to know buses take 3-4 Hours to reach Barot. Barot is 65km from Bir and the best option is to take a cab.
- The best part of Bir is that charges of everything are fixed be it paragliding or cabs. The cab price was minimal and hence another guy also joined me on the trip.
- We started the journey at 12:10 hours and after taking cash and beer we were on the Manali highway. The road to Barot Valley is not good, but the views are nice. As you enter the Barot valley route, the road gets narrower.
- We reached Barot valley at 14:30 Hours. As we stepped out of the car we could feel the cold wind and the fresh air outside. Truly it’s a hidden paradise. Barot valley is famous for trout fishing and there is a trout fishing farm which can be visited to know about Trout fish. The area around the DAM is pretty cold, you can sit and have a relaxed afternoon. There is a Restaurant named LAKE PARADISE just near the PWD guest house. It serves amazing trout fish curry and rice. Also, they provide you option of fishing though hardly you will be able to catch any fish. After enjoying 2-3 hours at Barot valley we packed some fried Fish and started our journey back.
- As our Bus to Delhi was from Baijnath, our driver took the route via Baijnath. We reached Baijnath at 19:00 hours. We went to a temple near the bus stand and sat there for some time. There are not many options to eat good food in Baijnath. We took the bus back to Delhi at 20:00 hours and reached Delhi at 07:30 hours.
With plenty of activities to do in the Himalayas, here is a list of treks that you can do in the Himalayas, ranging from easy to difficult whatever suits your need.