Joy drive to Bir (Himachal Pradesh)!!!


Foothills of Dhauladhar Himalayas, Tea Gardens, Paragliders Landing Site, Paragliding Take Off Meadow Billing 14 km away, Spiritual Studies, Meditation Centre, Peaceful Atmosphere, Tibetan Refugee Settlement, Base of Trek to Bada Bhangal via Thamsar Pass.

Distance from Dharamsala: Around 65 km

Elevation: Around 1525 Meter Above Sea Level

Date Of Travel: 17.11.2012

The stretch of Himalayas from Dharamsala to Jogindernagar has always been fancy of my  dreams. I have dreamt about it day and night. I have been here a number of times, on bus, bike and car, but never had enough of it. More I come here, the more I long to come. I seem to belong to this place.

Just before Jogindernagar at Bir Road, the road branches off to the left, to a very charming area with tea plantation and mighty snow clad Himalayas forming fascinating background. The area is dotted with small but beautiful villages inhabited mainly by tibetans and local gaddis. There are three famous places called Bir, Upper Bir and Chaugan. Bir is just a 4 km drive from Bir Road. Chaugan, where most tibetan settlements are, is to the left of Bir and Upper Bir or Bir proper is little ahead. A few kilometers drive on the right of Bir, is a world famous paragliding site…Billing.

Wonderful himachal road through tea plantation
Wonderful himachal road through tea plantation
Mighty Himalayas (Dhauladhar range)
Mighty Himalayas (Dhauladhar range)
kangri dham
kangri dhaam
kangari dham
kangari dhaam

I had few business meetings in Palampur and Baijnath. Drove from Ludhiana to Gurdaspur and then to Chamunda via Pathankot. Stayed the night at Chamunda which is a nice place to stay with budget hotels, nice simple food and all basic facilities.

Got up to a beautiful morning with the ringing of prayer bells coming at famous Chamunda temple. Tea felt like heaven while sitting on an easy chair in the balcony, watching first rays of Sun falling on the mighty snow clad Himalayas. The sky was changing colour with each and every passing moment. I kind of lost in the moment and even forgot to take pictures.

Went for a small walk. Washed the car. Got ready and was on my way to Palampur. Had breakfast of puri chana from Palampur bazar and drove towards Paprola where I was to meet my friends. A friend took me to a marriage function where kangri dhaam, traditional meal, was served. It was a wonderful feeling eating rice, dal, sabji, kaddi, khatta, salad and chapati served on a dry leaf, sitting on a mat, in a queue with fellow invitees.

I had another meeting in the evening which got finished at 8pm giving me ample time to head for Bir.

Ja few kilometers from Baijnath
on the way to Bir

The drive, in the fading light of the evening along the mighty himalayas through NH-20, was absolutely wonderful. At Bir Road I turned left and drove through tea plantation for about 4 km and saw few closed shops. There was no one to ask for directions. I continued drive and found myself climbing up on a steep road. The road became more and more lonely. Suddenly I realised I was half way up on the World famous paragliding site, Billing. Bir was left behind and I had to turn back. The road was so narrow, that It was very difficult to take u-turn. Had to drive few kilometers more before I could get the space to take u turn.

After a while, reached a square where all shops were closed. Nobody was there to show me the way. There were some lights on the right side of the road. Turned in the direction of light and reached a village where there was some movement of people. Asked one of them for availability of some accommodation.

I was shown a road which lead to Upper Bir, where, I was told, would find accommodation. Pretty soon I was standing outside a beautiful, large house. Rang the bell. A very nice looking gentleman opened the door. I asked for the availability of a room and was happy to find the gentleman nodding his head in affirmation.

The place, I came to know later, was Bhawani Guest House and the gentleman who opened the door was Dr Manan Soni, son of the owner of the guest house. I was lead through stairs to a very nice room on the first floor of the house. I asked whether I could have something for dinner. To which, Dr Manan told me, whatever is available at home could be provided for dinner.

I was feeling very lucky to have found this place. The guest house is like a big villa with 5-6 rooms at the upper floor and same number of rooms at the ground floor. The ground floor is used by the owner and the rooms at upper floor are let out to guests. I was told that most of the guests come here for religious studies or for paragliding. They come from all over the World, from diverse nationalities and stay here for longer duration. Even right then, I was told, the whole guest house was full with foreign nationals and I was the only Indian staying at the place. The place was very nice and clean with brand new woodwork, neat white marble flooring, clean linens, hot and cold running water, balcony with a view and free wifi connection. There was a dining room at the ground floor as well.

Dinner was absolutely wonderful with home cooked dal, sabzi made from local herbs, chapati and salad.

Enjoyed the food, enjoyed the stay, surfed the net and went deep into the world of dreams.



Night at Bir was cold and silent. In contrast, morning was sunny and bright. Looked out from balcony and was fascinated to see mighty Himalayas so close and majestic.

Cup of tea later, went out for a small walk around the countryside. The entire area and the people, looked so simple, peaceful and easy going. Mountains, forests, fields, trees, animals, people..everything was in harmony.

I was told…there is an Ashram up the hill at a walking distance.There lived a 116 year old saint, in meditation and in silence. Curious, walked up the hill to the ashram. Ashram was quite big. Many followers of saint also lived there. Many visitors were already in queue waiting for the doors to open.

Doors of the Ashram were opened at 10am. Everyone was escorted up the stairs to an open courtyard where a very old baba was sitting on the chair. We were directed to sit in silence, in a file, in front of the baba. When everyone sat down, the baba asked to come one by one to him to seek his blessings and parshad. When my turn came, I walked up to the baba and looked into his eyes. Baba’s body was trembling and there was a strange glow in his eyes. They were probing and alive. Took his blessings, parshad and walked back to my guest house.

Bhawani Guest House, Bir

Bir is a charming little place with many interesting things. The village or the set of villages are perched on a slope of the mighty Himalayas among tea plantation and tibetan flags. There are many guest houses on the roadside and inside tea plantation. Most of the visitors come here for religious studies, meditation and for paragliding. The overall atmosphere is very laid back. People from many countries and cultures could be seen roaming about peacefully.

Paragliding landing sight Bir

Paragliding landing sight Bir

Paragliding landing sight Bir

Paragliding landing sight Bir

Paragliding landing sight Bir

Google map of the route Ludhiana-Palampur-Bir-Ludhiana.

There is a paragliders site a few kilometers to the left of Chaugan and tibetan settlement. The setting is beautiful. Saw a number of  paragliders land during my stay. There were many newcomers who had come to learn paragliding. Trainers were seen training the trainees. There were mainly two courses on offer basic and advanced with a duration of 2-3 weeks each.

The atmosphere at the site was very colorful and exciting. I could see paragliders taking off up above the Billing meadow, from among green forests and high mountains. From a distance, the gliders looked like kites, flying like eagles high in the clouds and blue sky. Suddenly they came close with bright colours and exciting flyers. On landing, the pilots looked quite normal, while the passenger looked bewildered, filled with fright, joy and excitement. The flyers looked awestruck and were hardly able to react normally for quite some time after landing.

For millions of years man has dreamt of flying like a bird in the sky with freedom. Here it was, beholding so many of them, living their dreams. Such an amazing feeling.

The atmosphere out there was mesmerising. My heart was not willing to leave the scene. With heavy heart and thought of coming back soon, I drove off to Tibetan bazaar. Ate delicious momos, walked around and drove towards Bir Road.

The drive from Bir to Ludhiana through Baijnath, Palampur along the mighty Himalayas has always been a part of my dreams. I always loved this drive, through thick deodar trees, tea plantation and occasional glance on snow clad mountains. The night drive was even more serene with almost no traffic, cool breeze blowing and many eateries and dhabas on the way .

After almost 5 hours of dream drive, listening to fm radio, fantasizing about many such drives….was back home in Ludhiana, where my beautiful wife is always there to welcome me back with hot food and lots of love.


2 thoughts on “Joy drive to Bir (Himachal Pradesh)!!!

  1. well explained in a very interesting way. From photographs it looks very beautiful place. I will also plan trip to this place.

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