August 2012
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Bir – a town in the eastern end of the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

Bir is a town in the eastern end of the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh with a large, well-established Tibetan community.

Overview of Bir

– It is home to several educational institutions, monasteries, and nonprofit organizations (NGOs).
– It is a destination for meditation courses, volunteering, and ecotourism.
– Bir is against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar Range of the Indian Himalayas.
– The Tibetan Colony is actually in the village of Chowgan.
– Bir is a noted centre for spiritual studies and meditation.
– It is a popular destination for adventure sports such as paragliding and trekking.
– Bir is also home to a Tibetan refugee settlement with several Buddhist monasteries and a large stupa.
– Bir is located in the Tehsil (administrative subdivision) of Baijnath, in the District of Kangra.
– It is situated approximately 50 km (31 mi) southeast of Dharamshala.
– It is 14 km south of Billing.
– It lies on the way to the Thamsar Pass leading to Bara Bhangal.
– Bir is situated in the Joginder Nagar Valley, Dhauladhar Range of the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.
– The historical center of Bir is in Upper Bir.
– The Bir Tibetan Colony is at the west end of the village of Chowgan which is about a 20-minute walk (or five-minute taxi) below Upper Bir.
– Sherab Ling Monastery is a 50-to-70-minute walk (or 15-minute taxi) from Chowgan.
– The village of Ghornala is the location of the Dharmalaya Institute.
– It is about midway between Bir and Sherab Ling, and slightly to the north.

Places to see in and around Bir

1. Chokyi Lodro College of Dialectics (formerly Dzongsar Institute):
– It is a center for higher Buddhist philosophical study.
– There are about 600 monks in nearby Chauntra.

2. Palpung Sherab Ling
– A Karma Kagyü Tibetan Buddhist Monastery is located in woodlands between Bir and Baijnath.
– It is headed by the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche.

3. Dharmalaya Institute
An eco-campus for compassionate living, set on a hill with breathtaking views overlooking Bir and Kangra Valley.
– River pools in Upper Bir.
– Teagardens.

4. Paraglide
– Paragliding from the mountaintop at Billing is an attraction here.
– Paragliding in Bir and vicinity is available here.

5. Meditating spots
– Dhanaari Hill
– Sansaal Road
– Ghornala Village
– VPO Bir
There are several institutions in Bir that attract students, tourists, volunteers:
– The Deer Park Institute
– The Dharmalaya Institute
– Dharmalaya

The Bir-Billing area for paragliding:
• A popular site for paraglider pilots.
• Flying season is from September to November.
• Some flying also done in October.
• The paragliding launch site is in the meadow at Billing (14 km north of Bir), at an elevation of approximately 2400 meters (7874 feet).
• The landing site and most tourist accommodations are in the village of Chowgan.
• Billing (2290 m) is the take-off site and Bir (1400 m) is the village at the landing site.
• The road distance between the two is 14 km.
• Bir is sheltered by the Dhauladhar Mountains.
• The ridges behind keep rising to 3000 m, 4000 m, 5000 m.
• Bir is a beautiful village surrounded by tea gardens and spectacular scenery.
• Billing offers unique opportunities for high altitude.
• Cross country flying and flights of 180 kms have been achieved from here.

Best time to visit / climate

The best time to visit is November when the time is right for paragliding as well along with other activities.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. By Bus
Bir is about four hours or so from Dharamshala/McLeodGanj.
From Dharamshala
– There are direct buses to Bir Road/Upper Bir leaving at 6am & 2pm from Lower Dharamshala.
– Take a bus to Palampur, then to Baijnath.
– From Baijnath there are buses every half hour to Upper Bir – for Bir Colony.
– Drop at Chowgan crossroads.
– Walk about 1km.
– Get off at Bir Road junction and get a taxi (Rs50-60).
From Delhi
– From the Inter-state Bus Terminal (ISBT), take bus to either Baijnath or Bir Road.
– There are two overnight buses leaving Delhi.
– Both depart mid evening and arrive early morning.
By Toy Train
– There is a morning train from Pathankot to Ahju, which is only 3kms from Bir.
– Trains from Delhi arrive at Pathankot an hour before the toy train leaves.
– The ride is long, tiring and often crowded.
– Stunning scenery compensates for any inconveniences.

2. By Taxi
– This is the most convenient way of getting to Bir from Pathankot (4 hours, Rs1700-1800) or Dharamsala (2 hours, Rs 1000-1300).
– Taxis from Bir Road (the final destination of most long-distance buses) to the Tibetan Colony or Deer Park should not cost more than Rs 60-70.
– Taxis from Upper Bir or the Tibetan Colony to Ghornala (for the Dharmalaya Institute or Ghornala Resort) should cost Rs 100 one-way or Rs 150 return.
– Taxis are usually available in the Upper Bir bus stand and in the main intersection of the Tibetan colony.
– Buses ply the main north-south Bir Road fairly regularly, connecting the Bir Road turnoff from the NH20 (the highway) to Upper Bir. The closest bus stop for the Tibetan Colony is at Chowgan Chowk, on Bir Road about a 10-minute walk east of the colony.

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at
Hotels at
Hotels at
Hotels at

Blogs / Sites about Bir

Blogs and reviews at
Blogs at
Blogs and reviews at

Images and photos of Bir

Images at
Images at
Images at

Videos of Bir

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