First time trip to Bir Billing is filled with joy, excitement and adrenaline rush especially if you’re new to the mountains. The region is known for its adventurous activities especially paragliding. At the height of 2400 meters, the highest paragliding spot in India has had the honour of hosting a Paragliding World Cup in 2015. Bir Billing is known as “The Paragliding Capital of India.”
Soaring high in the clear blue sky and witnessing the lush greenery all around is a feeling to remember. You feel light like a bird swaying against the gentle breeze.
As the saying goes, “when the mountains call out to you, just forget everything else and go visit.”
First time trip to Bir Billing
Before undertaking your first time trip to Bir Billing, it is important that you understand the essentials of the place.
Bir Billing: An Overview
|West of Joginder Nagar Valley, Himachal Pradesh|
|How to get there?|
|The full journey to billing could be done by bus when it comes to travelling from within Himachal.
If you’re traveling from outside Himachal, you can board a flight to Dharamshala.
|Accessible throughout the year|
|Best Time To Visit|
|Things to do nearby|
|Trek to Triund, Visit the tea gardens of Palampur, Mountain biking, Go trout fishing|
Travel Itinerary on First time trip to Bir Billing
|Day 1 : Journey to Barot|
|Day 2 :
Bonfire and Adventure Activities at and around the Campsite
Adventure Activities around the Campsite
|Day 4 :
Hike to Billing
Paragliding to Bir
Alternative Travel Itinerary for my First Time Trip to Bir Billing
|Day 1 :
Journey to Mcleodganj
|Day 2 :
Trek to Triund
|Day 3 :
Return to Mcleodganj
Explore Mcleodganj and Dharamshala
Stay at Dharamshala
|Day 4 :
Journey to BillingParagliding to Bir
The Dilemma of Choices
The timing of my first time trip to Bir Billing was such that chances of going on three trips on my bucket list arrived at almost the same time- Spiti, Brighu Lake and Bir Billing.
The former two trips, unfortunately, fell on the same weekend that I had some urgent work. The trip to Bir Billing was a week later. This put the dilemma in my mind to rest and I was finally going to Bir Billing.
My First Time Trip to Bir Billing: The Complete Journey in Phases
|Phase One: The beginning|
|Phase Two: Obstacles to Barot|
|Phase Three: The Camp Chronicles|
|Phase Four: The Challenges of Organizing Adventure|
|Phase Five: The Hike|
|Phase Six: The Easy Trail, Made Hard|
|Phase Seven: Glide to Glory|
|Phase Eight: The Way Back Home|
I was in my 5th semester of college and had to my achievement 10 trips to various places. Yet somehow, I had never been to a commercial trip. As things turned out, my first time trip to Bir Billing was my first commercial trip as well. By commercial, I imply organizing the trip.
A group of 80 students in two buses left from the Punjabi City of Patiala, the princely state. We were told by the concerned paragliding organizers that if all of us were successful, we were going to be the biggest individual group to have glided the Bir Billing skies. Most of the travelers were on their first time trip to Bir Billing while some of them had visited before.
Obstacles to Barot
The onus was on me as I was the lone organizing warrior in the smaller of the two buses. The other one had three with two veterans of the club.
In the usual night trip, sleep was an entity I couldn’t take. I was cramped in a small cabin with fellow junior members of the club handling a pretty moody driver.
It was an experience in itself, things were not all dull. We had a hell of time knowing each other using the means of games on our first time trip to Bir Billing.
Advantages of travelling at Night
|You are able to save time.|
|You can work an entire day at the office without demanding a holiday.|
|You are able to skip expensive hotel costs.|
|If you arrive in the morning, you have a whole day to look forward to. Trust me when I say, it’s easier to plan an itinerary for an entire day than for part of a day.|
Well, the night passed peacefully.
The next day was challenging to say the least. First of all, we missed out on breakfast due to some circumstances. Secondly, we didn’t take into account that the road to the campsite is that narrow and our bus won’t be able to make it through.
We were left with no option but to abandon the bus and look for other options. It must have been an hour of discussion with the rest of my team on the other bus and the staff at the camp that we were able to arrange tempo travelers for the rest of the journey.
This was the scenario with one of the buses. The other one was stuck. It couldn’t even take the routes we had taken to reach Barot. The other group was more than an hour back from where we were.
I felt a sense of tiredness in my body after a gruelling 15-hour journey that I had undertaken for the first time trip to Bir Billing.
The Camp Chronicles
The campsite had beautiful hill views from the tents complemented by the agricultural setup. Brunch was served to us, shortly followed by lunch. It was only after we had completed our lunch that the other group arrived.
Our schedule had to be altered slightly. Only river crossing could take place. Waterfall rappelling had to be left for the next day.
There were people falling everywhere in the river while the river was crossing. The best part, most of them were doing it intentionally. They were enjoying themselves.
The night, we thought would be under a sea of stars but that was not the case. The city lights had ensured that.
Instead of watching stars at night resorted to bonfires. This was followed by camp rituals- games!! There is something about them and are arguably the best source of knowing people better.
A few Camp Site Games
|Truth or Dare
Murder in the Dark
Never Have I Ever
Two Truths and A Lie
Would You Rather
Any Card Game
The Challenges of Organizing Adventure
The next day meant an early awakening as time was short on our hands. We had to complete three activities –
|The process of rappelling down from the climb|
|Waterfall rappelling down|
The process was going slower than we expected. We organized a hike to keep the chaps busy and not get bored.
We tried hard to squeeze everything in. The organizers of the operation weren’t good. Let alone leaving us time for waterfall rappelling, they weren’t able to rappel most of the group down. The group had to return from another path in order to complete the process of getting back.
We had failure written on our heads. We thankfully had another day to make up everything- The Paragliding Day.
There are two ways of reaching Billing. One is by hiking and the other by means of a bus. Most of the people including me chose hiking.
The Hike to Bir Billing
The hike to Bir Billing from the campsite had vegetation with thorns in the trail. This was the only difficulty in the way. The trail was raw yet beautiful.
There is something about temperate regions that makes you feel so smitten irrespective of the difficulty.
The Easy Trail, Made Hard
While most of us reached the safe and easily to destination- Billing, a lagging group of people which had the General Secretary of the club as well as the senior-most members of the college and the guide chose a wrong and treacherous path.
This was all due to the foolishness of one member of the club to whom I had allotted a job to do. They survived somehow with minor bruises.
Glide to Glory
It was a moment that I had been waiting for a long time. I wanted to glide like an Eagle. I had to run as fast as I could and jump off the cliff with a glider at my back. Until now, I had just seen other people do it.
The first two to three minutes were filled with pumping levels of adrenaline. The rest were all peaceful till the landing. During the flight, my eyes covered all the directions except the one on my backside.
As I looked down from more than 2000 m elevations, I got a view of the entire town of Bir. On the looks of the upper region wherever my eyes went I saw mountains. I recalled that my roommate who had his first time trip to Bir Billing nearly two years back had told me to ask the instructor for stunts. I followed his advice.
But unfortunately, I was underweight and only after asking numerous times did he finally agree. I was able to manage three stunts on my first time trip to Bir Billing or should I say paragliding trip.
Here’s a little friendly suggestion – Put in a few kilograms if you are underweight but not too many if you want to enjoy the glide.
The Way Back Home
Each and everything was done and dusted except one – a visit to a place that my roommate had told me about, time and time again. It was to make a visit to the Garden Café in Bir.
You too should visit this place and have banana pancakes on your first time trip to Bir Billing.
What I learnt from Organizing My First time trip to Bir Billing?
It was a roller coaster ride actually. As a group, we experienced sky-limit highs as well as rock-bottom lows. They were also mixed with some peaceful yet exciting times.
These times brought a lot of questions on the organizing front. I learnt that one would definitely make mistakes. It’s important that you learn quickly from them and act proactively.
It’s essential to know that doesn’t matter how much research has gone into your itinerary. There would be cases you have to change some of it and it’s important to have the flexibility to accommodate all.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Paragliding
|You need to wait for the weather to be dry and winds should be lower than 18 mph.|
|Be mentally prepared – stay calm and do not get overwhelmingly excited.|
|Do not attempt a flight if you have not learnt it. Go for tandem flights in that case.|
|Follow all safety instructions properly, especially the ones instructed by your pilot.|
|Do not overeat or drink before your flight; wear light clothes.|
|There is no age limit but kids below 18 are not allowed to fly without parents.|
|You must be within the weight limit of 120 kg.|
|You won’t be able to indulge in stunts if you are too underweight.|
Commonly Asked Questions by People Taking Their First Time Trip to Bir Billing
|Do you have an ATM in Bir Billing?|
|There is an ATM in Barot but there is no source of quick cash in Bir Billing. So carry enough cash.|
|Do you have mobile signals in Bir Billing?|
|There might be some issues. BSNL would be the recommended telecom service.|
|What would be the duration of the flight?|
|15 – 45 minutes|
|What would be the price of the flight?|
I took my first trip to Bir Billing last October. It’s time you take it as well.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂