The Unrivalled Bir Billing Paragliding Experience

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Bir Billing Paragliding experience: Paragliding at Bir was probably the only sweet experience I had in my whole Bir trip. On the day of getting to Bir from Manali, I caught a high fever and was sick most of my time here.

If you’ve read my blogs, I love exploring to the core – be it food-hopping, activities, trekking, or temples. But here I was stuck in the hostel dormitory sleeping.

However, sitting at Asia’s highest paragliding spot, I had come too far to leave without paragliding. It was a ride-or-die situation. I vowed to go regardless of my condition. Here goes my Bir Billing paragliding experience :)

Bir Billing Paragliding Experience

Since I was pretty much dead most of the time, my friends fortunately booked the paragliding slot from a local agency for all of us. A morning session. While some go for the evenings for sunset views, we picked the clear morning skies.

To get a colorful view of the Bir village below, I suggested picking the early slot. On our way to Bir, we met an Indonesian lady who got along well on the bus. Having lived in Batam, Indonesia for almost a decade myself, I got along well.

Bidding goodbye, she gave us some home-made snacks and recommended to take the morning paragliding slot. Thus morning it was!

We booked the standard 15-20-minute tandem flight where a professional pilot controls the whole paraglider.

This was my first time “paragliding” and someone controlling the paraglider seemed disappointing. Much later I realized there’s a whole world revolving around paragliding – paragliding pilots, markets, agencies, and schools. There would be no ‘ paragliding’ hype in Bir if it wasn’t for tandem flights.

Not that I was in shape to learn paragliding myself. Post the Manali trip, I was lying dead for 2 days in Bir’s hostel while I should have been exploring its monasteries and numerous cafes. What ugly luck! Bir was probably the most frustrating trip I have had.

But the paragliding? Hell nah I couldn’t afford to miss it! On the final morning at Bir, my condition had thankfully improved and my nausea was subsiding. And it was time to fly!

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: The landing spot

Paragliders strapped to a Tiny Van

Bir Billing Paragliding Experience. The place is well-known as Bir Billing yet keep in mind – only ‘Bir’ is the village’s name. Billing is that point on a mountain from which you jump and glide down to Bir. The standard Rs. 3000 we paid included the transport to Billing.

Staying at Bir Zostel Plus, it was close to the rest of the town so the van picked us up straight from here. It was an Omni. Three of us and the 3 professional paragliders were already seated.

Colorful folded paragliders hung over the tiny van, making it look like an upside-down boat. Billing, lying in the Kangra District, wasn’t too far from Bir – the 16-kilometer path was only an hour away considering the road conditions.

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: Phew, that view right there!

Jumping off Billing!

Upon reaching the top, I saw some pilots dive that very second into the emptiness of the peak. One moment they were there and the next – poof! It was awestriking.

Billing’s peak was peculiar compared to the other hilltops. With the top cleared off trees leaving behind a bare grassy surface, it made the space favorable for paragliding.

There weren’t many people here apart few other pilots and tourists like ourselves. Our pilots asked us to walk towards what seemed more like a makeshift stand. It was a window with an official sitting behind it.

He handed out a document with a pen. We were required to sign a liability waiver before strapping ourselves, declaring to be aware of the risk involved. One of my friends (who seemed to already be shitting his pants) exclaimed in alarm, What’s this?

I laughed. Having been on decent-grade rafting rapids in Dandeli before, I was accustomed to it. The strong winds hitting our faces didn’t seem to comfort him.

“It’ll be great man, let’s go!” I assured. I, on the other hand, was impatient. I had been waiting for Bir’s Paragliding for 3 months, and the moment was finally here!

Up close, the colorful glider was astonishingly huge and no doubt powerful.

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I had heard of the mix of materials – polyester, and kevlar. The closer I got, the more complex it looked. Weighing 65 kg, I was assigned one of the paragliders beforehand.

Getting in position, I strapped myself to the numerous belts with plastic clicks. The stringed glider brushed the land behind me. Both, the pilot and me were set to go. With all those strings and belts, I was to run and jump into the space before me – into a vast blue… sky.

For a second, fear started to settle in but the adrenaline rush overtook and I plunged straight. I held my breath and the world went quiet when my feet were off the ground. The next, the paraglider took complete control making us sway forward… WOOOOOH!

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: That’s me!

That easily made for the best part of the Bir Billing paragliding experience. The take off. Imagine charging towards a whole space with all your awareness! Added to it, I had the advantage of a first-timer’s adrenaline rush. Neither could one be sure of its safety nor was there a moment to think.

The friendly professional strapped to me made his livelihood with these tandem flights and I couldn’t afford to hold back because I was ‘scared’.

He went, “shuru karein (shall we go)?” and I went Yeah!

Nevertheless, the fall lasted shorter than I thought. A couple of seconds through we were already in the sky floating like daydreams.

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Views of the Bir Village from above

Bir Billing Paragliding Experience. Minutes passed by. The mountains slowly moved further from naked sight and the view of the villages beneath protruded now. Like Bir, there were other small villages in the near distance sitting between other mountain valley creaks.

The curvy roads connecting these little habitats looked like threads tying humans together, connecting to the rest of the world.

Looking up to the horizon, the sky dimmed to hug the green forest mountains. It wasn’t a Goa sunset view by the beach but there was a pleasant serenity to the distance it gave.

I smiled looking at the village below which stood oblivious to the rest of the world. It made sense, the haven away from the world. This was it.

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: This is of my friend’s shot. I couldn’t find mine :(

It was a 15-minute long flight. It’s not much but it was enough to make a little conversation with the pilot. He told me of how he ended up being a paragliding instructor.

He was a local from a nearby town and he had lived his whole life here.

With his passion, he seemed to be content with life. Or maybe it was just these moments of being free -riding the winds. It was hard to tell. Either way, I was jealous of his privilege to live by these skies and mountains.

He pointed out to the handful of places we hovered over – the Sherabling Monastery, the Bir Colony along with a bunch of other red golden monasteries. It was Bir after all!

I noticed a butterfly-shaped building. “Bhaiya, what’s that?” I asked.

He laughed, “That’s your Bir Zostel!” And so it was – Bir’s most popular hostel accommodation that we stayed in was indeed shaped like a butterfly!

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Budget accommodation for Bir’s Travelers

Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: Bir’s gained popularity since 2015 Bir’s World Cup and has had its niche visitors. Being particularly popular among the youth and backpackers, hostels are the most popular type of stay here.

As a travel enthusiast myself, I loved the backpacking community visiting Bir. If you’re someone into traveling, I highly recommend booking via HostelWorld to get yourself a dormitory stay for affordable rates.

But here are my best-handpicked recommendations for Bir on HostelWorld:

  1. Bir Zostel Plus (the most popular/fancy spot, but a bit expensive)
  2. Hipostel Bir (Find hipster crowds here!)
  3. Flashpackers Bir (Bicycles available here for hire)
  4. Cosmic Kriya (This one’s got a pool with decent amenities)

*These are affiliate links to HostelWorld. I only recommend sites I trust and use.

The Crazy Spinning Paraglide

Though my fever seemed far when I was in the air, I could feel the oncoming nausea. My body was still weak. That’s when the pilot in control asked, “Let’s hit some stunts?”

I had observed some paragliders the previous day from the dormitory’s windows. They didn’t just fly straight and land. Some made crazy spins and dives mid-air.

I assumed that was what he referred to and I thought for a moment. My nausea still seemed to linger. But once in, ALL IN. I told myself.

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: That camera in hand was an added responsibility, ugh.

“Go crazy as you wish!” I told him. The pilot laughed zealously and it began.

The initial sway was slow, moving side-to-side. Then it got stronger… and stronger… before I realized. The novel-worthy horizon now was spun like a washing machine. I held those straps tight this time, clutching for dear life. The pilot, on the other hand, was laughing.

But it was yet to get real. Then it happened: I felt my head going upside down.

For a fraction second, I looked up and saw the vibrant blue paraglider, but the sky wasn’t beyond it – the Bir village was! It was upside down for a second! The g-force had its immediate effect, making me feel light for a second there. Then it vanished all too quickly and we were back straight again.

It was so fast that my nausea probably backed out.

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: There’s me stupidly smiling for the only time I experience Bir.

Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: Tailpiece

Not long after jaw-dropping swirls, we neared another bald spot of clear grassland where other paragliders came together. Sighs*. It was the Bir Landing site.

We made a smooth landing at a jogging pace with the glider making a mess on the soil behind. I unstrapped myself and looked up at the dozens of colorful paragliders all headed toward me. This was something alright.

My other friend was in sight moments later who now put on a broad smile across his face. The fear must have gone, I thought. Nearing the ground, he failed to keep his legs down and slid his butt across the grass.

Yeah never mind, I almost believed it for a moment.

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Bir Billing Paragliding Experience: My friend landed on his butt, silly

However, the post-happiness didn’t last long. I could feel a headache from a distance and my nausea returned. I whispered to my own fever, thanks for the short break I guess.

This Bir Billing paragliding experience made for only the bright part of my Bir trip. And I was glad to have taken that risk. Tell me about your paragliding experience below. Happy Traveling!

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Manas Patil

Hi there! I'm a 22-year-old dude all the way from India, I love traveling and building itineraries! Sign up and get your FREE COPY of my travel checklist to get the best of your next vacation!

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