|Download Travel Guide in Pdf (1,230 KB) format…|
The Himachali village, inexpensive Bir is salubrious and active in autumn, October-November. Thrill seekers holding strings of colorful canopies swing through the blue skies over the golden fields ready to be harvested, the Himalayan hamlets, the tea gardens, and the Dhauldhar Range. Paragliding lovers, free flyers, professionals, and spectators from India and abroad, flock to the small village in Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) in India. They expand and enrich the local ethnic fabric temporarily, but their presence highlights the wide gap between the two lifestyles that hibernate until they arrive.
Locals serve the visitors, harvest the crops, collect firewood, and / or watch paragliders and tourists, whereas the visitors spend time and (hard earned) money in the activity of their choice for unwinding. The landing site in Bir becomes a picnic ground dotted with colorful umbrellas protecting spectators and paragliders from direct sunlight. The spectators gather at and / or around the site to watch the colorful canopies gliding in the sky and binge.
Take-off site for hang-gliding and paragliding, Billing, nestled at an altitude of about 2,400 meters (7,920 feet), occupies one of the Dhauladhar spurs in the district and overlooks the landing site. The South West Face of the Dhauladhar Range rises to 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) and even higher. The range faces a wide plateau, whose altitude varies from 800 to 1,500 meters (2,640 – 4,750 feet).
Like migratory birds, paragliders from faraway places in Europe and other parts of the world arrive in Bir and Billing. These “temporary birds” soar in the sky using canopies and party there. They “dance”, swing, and somersault in the blue sky, the expensive party zone requiring costly equipment and special skills. For tourists, Bir and Billing, one of the best paragliding sites in the world, suddenly goes glam from a plain Jane. The novices make repeated attempts for a right take-off, hoping to join the party and compete one day.
The paragliding enthusiasts who either do not have money for paragliding or do not have guts to take the risk of soaring high holding the canopies make beeline for the fortunate paragliders and the bright canopies. The organizers repeatedly order overwhelmed audience to vacate the take-off area.
The fresh wind moves briskly in the rolling meadow of Billing, interrupted by muddy trails. Nature dominates the landscape barring a few basic structures occupied by paragliding event organizers. Shepherds tender the flock on high ridges and pastures in the neighborhood. By the sunset, the flock starts returning and moves through the line of vehicles parked along both sides of the only road linking Billing to Bir. The vehicles transport spectators, flyers and equipment of the thrilled but exhausted “temporary birds.” What a luxury!
Mornings fleets of small and medium size vehicles negotiate the 14-km long Bir-Billing road starting from the Tourist Information Center in Upper Bir. The road meandering through the thick forest and the shoulders of the deep valleys is not perfect for driving. The road is however almost ideal for viewing and photographing some of lovely landscapes and panoramas of the Himalayas.
“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . . .”— Antoine de St-Exup�ry