There are many neighboring villages that are typically mentioned together as ‘Bir’ (especially by those who aren’t from the Bir area, however by some locals as well), together with Bir proper, Chougan, Gunear, Kotli and as well as the encompassing villages of billing, Ghornala, Bhattu (Sherab Ling), Keori, Gunher, and some different hamlets. For clarity, we will talk to the larger area as ‘the Bir area’ or ‘upper Bir’ and to the village of Bir itself as ‘Bir main’.
BIR (The Village)
The original settlement of Bir, located at the northern edge of the constellation of villages forming the larger Bir area (in what’s currently referred to as ‘Upper Bir’), perched at the top of the light slopes of the Himalayan foothills, simply before the earth turns sharply up toward the snow peaks. it’s a quiet Indian village with most of its buildings clustered on the main Bir-Billing road. the center of Bir proper is the Bir bazaar, a quiet market with solely a few dozen outlets. At the south end of Bir bazar is the bus stand and a large tea processing manufacturing plant, which offers tours for those fascinated by a fine orthodox tea.
People from Chougan and the Tibetan Colony may refer to all of Bir proper (including each Lower and upper Bir) as ‘Upper Bir’ however, according to the residents of Bir proper, ‘Upper Bir’ refers to everything above the bazaar, whereas ‘Lower Bir’ refers to the area below the bazaar however above Chougan and also the Tibetan Colony. (Note: to get to Bir proper from elsewhere in the area, you may have to be compelled to specify ‘Upper Bir’. If you merely say ‘Bir’ to a taxi driver, for instance, he could assume you wish to travel to the Bir Tibetan Colony since that’s the most tourer centre of the Bir area.)
Chougan village is basically a sprawling ‘suburb’ to the south of Lower Bir. it was settled more recently than Bir proper and encompasses a completely different flavour. Most of its residents were farmers or government staff until the present generation of young adults got different ideas. It’s known feature is the Tibetan Colony, however the rest of Chowgan village is quieter, cleaner, and well value exploring on foot on bicycle.
Located at the western extreme of Chowgan village, southwest of Bir proper and on the east of Paragliding landing site the Bir Tibetan Colony is one amongst the earliest Tibetan refugee settlements in India, established in 1962 by refugees from the Kham region of eastern Tibet. The ‘Colony’, as it is named regionally, features many Buddhist monasteries and temples and a large stupa. one of the most attractions for students and long-term visitors is the deer Park Institute, that hosts a variety of quality lectures, courses, and follow programmes within the Indian wisdom traditions and other subjects. The Colony is also of interest to visitors as the main centre of accommodation in the Bir area, with several guest houses and a sampling of kinky cafés frequented by travellers and Tibetan refugees.
The breathtakingly stunning eco-campus of the Dharmalaya Institute is perked up on Dhanaari Hill within the village of Ghornala, that lies about midway between Bir proper and Sansaal. Ghornala is also home to the tiny hamlet of Dhanaari, and a few of farming families snuggled during a valley surrounded by government-protected forest. From anywhere in Bir, Ghornala is reached by taking the Bir-Sansaal road. Buses sometimes ply this route, however taxi is a lot of reliable choice. It also makes a pretty hike from Bir.
Just a number of kilometers west of Bir is upper Bhattu, a lot of widely acknowledged by the name of its landmark, Sherab Ling, a sprawling Tibetan Buddhist monastery and retreat complex. Sherab Ling is the exile seat of the twelfth Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, one amongst the regents of the karmapa and also the Karma Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Sherab Ling sporadically hosts courses in Buddhist meditation and philosophy. Accommodation is available at the Sherab Ling Guest House except at peak times (when you’ll simply stay within the Tibetan Colony; it’s a beautiful one-hour walk, a fairly level bike ride or a quick taxi hop).
Bir is also the staging ground for what’s thought to be the world’s second best paragliding launch site: the tiny hamlet of billing, simply a number of kilometers higher than Bir. many pilots from across the world come back to Bir each spring and autumn to paraglide over the mountains and tea plantations of Bir and also the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas.