Situated in the North of India, Himachal Pradesh has myriad landscapes that make for a perfect ‘me- time’. Kullu, Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala, Dalhousie are some cities which see tourists throughout the year. But I chose a small tranquil village on the map for my vacation.
Bir, commonly known as Bir Billing is a small village in Himachal Pradesh. Underrated thus relatively undisturbed. After spending 6 years in south India which has a lot of beaches (peninsular region), the thought of being in the mountain was mesmerising. Breeze, mountains & river; that’s your company for the journey. And damn no TRAFFIC!
The hotel was located at a hilly yet ideal place. On it’s left was the bus stop, on its right was the road that led to the village, and the windows gave the picture-perfect view of lush green mountains. I quickly took a hot bath, gulped down a tomato soup and left with my backpack for an experience which will remain etched in my memory.
Paragliding, that’s what I had come to do in Bir. Bir billing has been marked the second highest paragliding site in the world and trust me the view from the top explains why. The heights, along with the cool climate of Bir Billing makes it most suitable for any air borne gliding sport. Plus, the wind is extremely smooth which helps in perfect take-off and landing.
I went to the local tourist guide shop located near the bus stop. The place could fit only 5 people at a time. While I stood outside waiting for my turn, I noticed the manager explaining the paragliding rules to a group of European tourists. Eyebrows frowned, open mouth and constant stare at the computer screen. Yes, fear was dripping from their faces. For a minute I was sceptical if I should do it. Come on, you have to accept that the sport is risky. But then the thought lasted just for a minute. I too went through the tutorial video and signed the forms which basically said, ‘the company won’t be liable for my death’.
The take-off site was a 15min-20min drive from the tourist guide shop. I was anxious and terrified to death. I bugged my pilot the entire way asking him how dangerous the sport was. Who wouldn’t be if your travel guide leaves you with a statement, ‘If you don’t jump off the cliff at the right moment, only ambulance will come to pick you up.’
Anyway, the most awaited moment had finally come. There I was standing at the cliff, hooked to the parachute glider. There was a mix of adrenaline rush and relaxation. A few seconds before the jump I thought, ‘It’s time I ease out. Fwww’. And moments later, there I was hanging in the sky, 8000ft from the sea level. In the company of breeze and the lush green valley, all I wanted was to build a home in the sky.
The landing site is huge thus welcoming safe landing. After that one heck of an experience, I spent my evening exploring the village. Bir has Tibetan refugee settlement. Besides the unspoiled nature, you would find lining the street of Bir a handful of guest houses, fields filled with colourful Tibetan flags, monks coming out of years-old-monasteries, people peeping from their small fruit wine shops & the tourist guides wandering with their customers. You would be filled with the aroma of Tibetan food specially the Tibetan momos.
With a population in hundreds, the street is exquisitely quiet and pleasant. Simple wooden houses and farming way of life in the mountains offers an insight into a more traditional way of life. A bicycle ride would be the best to explore the valley. If you’re craving fresh mountain air, adventure with a touch of history and culture thrown in, then perhaps Bir should be your next adventure holiday.
#HP #Himachal #BIR #Paragliding #Travel