Bir, popularly known as the paragliding capital of India, attracts paragliders from all over the world. Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, the Bir landing site resides at an altitude of 1500 m, while the takeoff or launch site at Billing resides at 2400 m, making it the second-highest paragliding site in all of Asia. Atchaya’s first tandem paragliding or joy ride experience occurred at Bir, one of the world’s best paragliding spots.
This blog takes you through all the details you need to know for the joy ride and also recounts my first flight experience.
Paragliding In Bir Billing
All the pilots speak Hindi. A few pilots could converse in English fluently, while a few spoke limited English.
Billing Paragliding Association Bir Billing, Kangra Himachal Pradesh, has tied up with the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. All the commercial rides undertaken in Bir Billing are insured for loss and damage for the extent of the sum insured.
Best Time/Season To Paraglide In Bir
The best months for paragliding in Bir Billing are April, May, June, November, and October.
Paragliding Pilots & Agencies
Bir is known for paragliding. We’ve established that. All the travel agencies and paragliding schools in Bir offer paragliding services. Most hotels and hostels you stay at will have contacts of paragliding pilots for your joy ride. Several posters and advertisement banners can be seen on the walls or gates of the houses and shops of Bir with the details of contact. You can reach out to them directly.
We opted for the pilots referred to us by the hotel where we stayed. But you can always check Google, read the reviews, and decide.
A paid restroom (INR 10) is available at the upper Billing take-off site. It was neat and clean – well maintained. There are no restrooms found near the landing site.
Baggage & Valuables
There are no cloakroom facilities available. All your bags and valuables, like your mobile phone, purse, water bottle, etc., will be packed in a paragliding backpack, and you will be carrying them. Wear your sunglasses (optional). Bring only the essentials, as you’ll return in a couple of hours.
There are no hard and fast rules for the dress code while paragliding. Paragliders usually cover up to avoid tanning. Wear comfortable clothes that aren’t too loose. Loose-fit clothes tend to fly in the air. If you have long hair, then you should consider braiding it.
Most importantly, wear shoes or sports sandals. It helps you achieve and maintain balance while landing.
Photos & Videos
You’ll be given an old action camera with a stick, and the recording will be turned on once you are geared up to fly. You and the pilot would hold them alternatively to record the video at different angles. The video footage will be transferred to you once you land. You can bring your action camera and the stick if you own one.
The photographers capture the pictures with DSLR at the landing site. Transferring the pictures to your device is chargeable and optional.
They charge anywhere between INR 2000 to 2500 for a tandem joy ride, depending on the group size. The cost is less if there are more people in your group. The cost is inclusive of the insurance and video footage.
Extra charges: (optional)
- INR 500 for stunts done on air
- INR 300 for a set of DSLR photographs (10 – 15)
The payments can be made either by cash or online by UPI.
The joy ride in the morning or evening hours lasts for about 15 minutes, while the afternoon rides are longer, lasting for up to 30 minutes. The total duration of pickup and drop from your accommodation to the take-off site and paragliding to the landing site will take you only a couple of hours max.
Paragliding is an adventure sport, and there are risks involved. It is best to check the basic prerequisites below before opting for one.
- Should weigh less than 100 Kg.
- A pregnant woman is not allowed to paraglide.
- Fitness is not mandatory for tandem flyers. But you should be able to run a short distance to take off.
- You should not suffer from any cardio/ respiratory disorder, lung and chest diseases, heart attacks, or surgeries done in recent times.
My First Paragliding Experience
It was the time of the year when the Pre-World Cup for paragliding was happening in Bir. So commercial flights were allowed only in the morning and evening hours. I wanted to paraglide during sunset as the color is truly magical, and the sky lights up in hues of wonder in Bir. But we had slots available only in the morning. Once we confirmed our booking, our weights were noted down. The next morning, 5 people from the hostel who became friends on different legs of the trip and I were ready to experience the adrenaline rush. We finished our breakfast, packed up, and got ready for the flight.
A car came to pick us up. We rode for about 40 minutes through the mountain roads that drifted like a slithering python to the upper billing, where the take-off or launch site is located. We roamed around the site and took a look at the valley below.
Flying from a whooping 2400 m altitude from upper Billing down to 1500 m at the landing site at Bir sounded exciting and terrifying at the same time.
We filled in the personal details and signed an indemnity bond. All the flyers are required to sign one.
All the pilots were busy untangling the paraglider and getting ready for the flight. We put our safety gear on, took snaps of each other, and watched a few other paragliders taking off in excitement. Instructions were given on how the take-off happens by running on the slope, etc. We were all ears, and then soon after, it was our turn. One after another, we took off high up in the air.
A little chit-chat with the pilot about Bir and the Pre-World Cup discussion engaged me while on the air. We took turns holding the action camera to record videos. Sitting comfortably on the glider seat with legs dancing and a sight too marvelous to behold, all lush greenery down below, I hummed a song.
The pilot adjusted the glide according to the wind’s direction. I enjoyed the twists and turns he took. I liked the aerial bird’s eye view, and at this very moment, I knew I would be back at Bir to pursue the paragliding course in the future and attempt my solo ride.
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