Flying High: My Experience of Paragliding in Bir Billing, India ( + video)

Flying High: My Experience of Paragliding in Bir Billing, North India

“Don’t stop, don’t sit, don’t jump – just run…” he shouted after me as I did what I was told and ran headlong off the mountains at the foot of the mighty Himayalan range until gradually I felt lighter, I could no longer run but instead allowed myself to be swept up into the air.

Like many others visiting Bir Billing, an off beat gem in Himachal Pradesh, North India, I had come here to make my dreams of flying come true. I was staying at the new Zostel Hostel who made arranging paragliding really easy. It was my first experience of paragliding in Bir Billing and as I ran for the take off and felt that weightless feeling of being suspended in the air for the first time I was feeling both excited and a bit nervous.

About to take off for paragliding in Bir Billing, India

Taking off for paragliding in Bir Billing, India

Paragliding in Bir Billing – Video

The scariest part about paragliding is the take off, there’s no easy way to do it – you just have to literally jump off the mountain, make a great leap into the unknown and launch yourself off the mountain and into the air.

The rest is plain sailing (or flying) and as I settled into the sensations of flying and felt safe that my pilot  knew what he was doing I started to relax and enjoy the scenery around me. And what magnificent scenery it was, it was late May so the air temperature was warm yet refreshing but in the distance I could see the snow capped peaks of the Dhauladhar mountain range, part of the greatest mountain range in the world – the Himalayas. Below me my legs dangled a little precariously over the densely forested slopes.

Anna from Global Gallivanting paragliding in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh, North India

Paragliding in Bir Billing – the 2nd best place to paraglide in the world!

I’d picked the perfect place to try paragliding for the first time as this small, quite unassuming and blissfully  offbeat town of Bir in Himachal Pradesh is reputed to be the second best place for paragliding in the whole world (second only to Lake Como in Italy but a hell of a lot cheaper!)

For 30 mins we soared gently high in the sky above the mountains until the roads and rooftops of the village came into view and I started to make out the stupas of the colourful Tibetan monasteries that dotted the landscape around Bir and I couldn’t help but think it was like looking down on a miniature world.

Paragliding in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India

Views from paragliding in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India

As we floated down and the miniature world started to look more realistic as I started to make out cars, scooters and then people. Then, I started to wonder how we would get down, I hadn’t thought about this as I had been too preoccupied with the prospect of running off the mountain at the start! Luckily my pilot was well experienced with this and the landing was just as smooth as the take off and it was almost graceful how we slid along the grass unharmed.

Ticking paragliding off the bucket list

Back at Zostel, the recently opened funky new hostel that I was staying in, I swapped notes with the other backpackers about our experiences paragliding in Bir Billing and reassured the people who were doing it the next day before wandering through the village in time for the perfect sunset.

From the same spot that I had landed from the paragliding earlier, I watched as saffron robed monks and local families picnicked in the fields while the last of the days paragliders gracefully floated back down to earth against the stunning backdrop of the bright orange sunset over the terraced rice fields and mountains beyond, glad that I had conquered my doubts and ticked off this amazing experience from my bucket list.

Sunset over the paragliding landing spot in Bir Billing. Himachal Pradesh, India

 

My first experience of paragliding was magical, the only problem is now that I felt what it’s like to be flying, and I know that it’s more wonderful than scary, I can’t wait to do it again!

Thanks to Zostel Bir – the world’s first paragliding hostel for a wonderful stay and for making my dreams of paragliding come true.

How to go paragliding in Bir Billing

Bir is located between the popular destinations of Dharamshala and Parvati Valley/ Manali and is a perfect stop along the way. It’s only 2 hours taxi or drive from Dharamshala to Bir or you can get the local bus which will take about 4/5 hours.

Bir Billing is best known for paragliding but this off beat gem nestled in the foot of the Himalayas has so much more to offer including many stunning and colourful Tibetan monasteries, meditation courses and outdoor activities so, despite it hardly gets a mention in some guidebooks, I’m sure you won’t regret adding Bir to your itinerary when backpacking in Himachal Pradesh.

Choukling monastery in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India

I stayed at Zostel Hostel  who arranged the paragliding in Bir Billing for me with their trusted partners. The cost for paragliding is approx. 2,000 – 2,500 Rupees for a tandem flight (which anyone can do with any training) that lasts about 20- 30 mins.

The best time to come paragliding in Bir Billing is from mid September to March but it’s possible almost all year round depending upon the weather apart from during monsoon. I visited in May and had a warm, clear, calm and sunny day perfect for paragliding.

See more about the other things to do and places to stay and eat in Bir in my Guide to Bir Billing and check out the beautiful photos of the Tibetan Monasteries. 

Paragliding in Bir Billing – Video

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My Experience of Paragliding in Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India

9 Comments

  • Wow, Bir Billing looks amazing! Thanks for sharing an off-the-beaten-path gem in India. In honesty, I would be nervous doing anything in the air like this but those views must really make it worthwhile!

    • Anna says:

      Thanks Emily! I was beautiful I really loved this place it was an unexpected find! The paragliding was a little scary taking off but once I got used to it the amazing views took over any nerves I had! Hope you get to try it for yourself one day! 🙂

  • Ahila says:

    I have a fear of heights but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to conquer it. Reading about your paragliding experience in Bir Billing has made me decide to add it to the travel I am planning to take around Himachal Pradesh. Thanks for sharing. Came across your article through Contented Traveller’s collaborative post on 11 Best Outdoor Adventures in Asia.

    • Anna says:

      Hi Ahila! Thanks so much for stopping by and so glad to hear that I’ve inspired you to add Bir to your Himachal trip! I admit I was a little nervous at first but its more awesome than scary once your in the air! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Abhineet Vyas says:

    Well many people come to Bir for paragliding world Championships. Its a nice place with many viewpoints. Have you ever been to South Western India?

  • Hi, Anna Thanks for writing Bir Billing. Bir Billing is the best paragliding site in Himachal Pradesh & India. And thank for share your great blog.

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