History of Bir
Local accounts, collected during the Dharmalaya Institute‘s interviews with local elders, indicate that the first permanent settlements in Bir were established by immigrants from Bengal around 1600 C.E. These families settled in the foothills of what is now Bir proper (Upper Bir). Other groups migrated to the area much more recently, starting in the early 20th century C.E., and settled mostly further down the hill, in the area now known as Chowgan.
Bir is a noted centre for spiritual studies and meditation and 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 Tibetan Colony is a Tibetan refugee settlement located at the west end of the village of Chowgan on the southwestern edge of the village of Bir. Bir Tibetan Colony was established in the early 1960s following the exile of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans from Tibet.
Bir is located at 32.05°N 76.70°E in the Tehsil (administrative subdivision) of Baijnath, in the District of Kangra in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Geologically, Bir is situated in the Joginder Nagar Valley, Dhauladhar Range of the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.
One of Bir’s biggest draws for outdoors enthusiasts and thrill seekers is paragliding. Bir is regarded by international paragliding groups as the second best site in the world for paragliding (after Lake Como in Italy).
The launch point is at approximately 2400 metres (7874 feet) in the meadow on the top of a ridge at Billing (14 km north of Bir), and the landing area is in the fields at the western edge of the Tibetan Colony in Chowgan.
The Bir-Billing area is noted as a popular site for paraglider pilots, both Indians and visitors from all over the world. The flying season is from September to November, with some flying also done in October. The village continues to host periodic international competitions and events. The paragliding launch site is in the meadow at Billing 14 km north of Bir, at an elevation of approximately 3890 metres , while the landing site and most tourist accommodations are in the village of Chowgan on the southern edge of Bir.
One can trek from Bir (2,000m) to Billing (2600m). The 14 km distance from Bir to Billing is actually a rock road, and can be covered on foot.
How To Reach
By Air:The nearest airport to reach bir billing is Gaggal airport, placed at distance of 65 kms.
By Rail : Pathankot is the nearest railhead. There is an overnight train from Delhi to Pathankot.
By Road : There are ordinary, semi deluxe or deluxe buses available from Delhi and other major towns of Himachal Pradesh to Dharamsala, Palampur, Baijnath, Jogindernagar or Mandi.