Paragliding in Bir Billing


Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh


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Location Bir Billing
Bir Billing Paragliding
Bir Billing Paragliding HImachal Pradesh

Bir is a village located in the west of Joginder Nagar Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Mostly referred as "Paragliding Capital of India", Bir is also a noted centre for ecotourism, spiritual studies and meditation. Bir is also home to a Tibetan refugee settlement with several Buddhist monasteries and a large stupa. While Billing is the takeoff site for paragliding and Bir for landing; collectively it is known "Bir Billing"

Paragliding Experience In Bir Billing

It was in October 2015 that I heard on the radio about a paragliding word cup being held in our country in Bir-Billing. I had never heard of such a thing before, and my curiosity was piqued. Through my research, I found out that the paragliding spot at Bir-Billing was Asia’s highest and the world’s second highest. I decided then that I would have to visit the villages and go paragliding, especially because they were a mere 12 hours away from Delhi.
Fast forward to December 2016, a crisp cold wind greeted me as I stepped out of the bus at Bir. However, it wasn’t the chilly wind that took my breath away that day, but the mesmerising view of my snow-peaked surroundings. I had taken an overnight bus from Delhi and it was rather comfortable. I was staying at the local Zostel and they had tied up with a paragliding operator so that I could experience tandem paragliding (pilot operated and guided). The paragliding can also be pre-booked, but it’s not particularly necessary.
Different forms of paragliding are offered at Bir Billing ranging from tandem to solo (professional) para-gliding to hang gliding and parasailing. The operators here also run various courses and provide exclusive training sessions that may span over months. Paragliding costs anywhere between ₹1,800–2,800 depending on the season. When I visited, the cost for tandem para-gliding was ₹2,000 without video recording and ₹2,500 with video recording. An important thing to remember is that even though there is no age limit, children below the age of 18 require parental consent. The only limitation for this sport is that you must weigh below 120kg.
The take-off site is a 30-minute car ride from Bir. The paragliding operators mostly organise the commute to the take-off site. The road connecting Bir and Billing is one of the most beautiful routes in the Kangra Valley – this road was hewn out of the rockface in 1962. It can only be traversed on foot or in a jeep. You can also opt to trek till the take-off site the night before your flight and camp there.
The pilot positioned the harness and the seat on me and as I had opted for video recording, handed the GoPro to me. He then set up the parachute for our flight. Once he had prepped the parachute, he attached my harness to it and patiently instructed me on how the flight was going to progress. The first step of paragliding is taking flight, or jumping to the ground and missing. Once the pilot says “Go!”, you have to run blindly towards the edge of the cliff and before you reach the end, you are scooped up into the air by the parachute. While running, it’s important to remember that, if you falter or stop, it can result in a very bad fall, which might lead to some gruesome injuries. I saw an example of this before me and it was not a pretty sight. In all honesty, it’s not as scary or difficult as it sounds; you just have to listen to the pilot and before you realise it, you will be soaring like a bird in the sky!
Once in the air, the pilot asked me to pull a flap towards the front, which turned into my own little seat. It was smooth sailing after that. It felt like flying in the sky on my own personal throne!
The sight of the valley after the take-off is breathtaking and the feeling of sailing in the air is absolutely indescribable. I have a slight fear of heights, so I was not too comfortable pulling out my phone to click pictures, but if you’re up for it, you’ll get some Snapchat and Instagram-worthy pictures.