The month of September was one of the most relaxing travel months ever. 7 Days in Bir, Asia’s best Paragliding destination, with 2 days in Kullu / Manali attending the Kullu Dusshera, world’s largest Dusshera celebration event with footfall in excess of 4.5 Lakh. The journey started on the evening of 14th October; decided at around 6 PM to leave and was sitting in a Bus to Baijnath at 10 PM, tell me about spontaneous plans.
Protip: If you are ever so slightly late at Kashmere Gate ISBT, don’t worry. The buses generally leave 5 minutes late then mentioned time and you can find the bus in between the platform and the exit gate for another 5 minutes. Having said that, don’t rely on this information, always reach the Terminal early as finding the platform could take time.
The bus journey was about 10 hours. I reached Baijnath, and then took a bus to Bir, another 20 minutes or so.
Bir has amazing views, great cafes, best location in India for paragliding and so much more to offer. The plan was to travel as much as and as long as possible with a hard budget of 10k. Have spent ₹688 on bus and another ₹100 on snacks.
First finalised and booked my stay. First 2 days in GoStops Hostel and then 2 days in Zostel. There was no availability in any hostel after that. Left it undecided. Another ₹2100 goes from budget, 1000 in zostel and 1100 in GoStops; note that GoStops offers free breakfast. Plan is to spend not more than ₹500 on stay because ₹500 can be a very tight budget for food if you want to try and visit cafes.
Now, roam around, visit cafes, meet people for at least next 4 days.
One thing which I was not expecting from this trip was blossoming flowers everywhere.
One of the best things after Paragliding Bir has to offer is cycling with an amazing jungle trail, tea gardens and Palpung Sherabling Monastery at the end. The road to Sherabling Monestry is about 6 km from Chougan, Bir. The cycles are available for ₹100 per hour or ₹500-600 per day. Take your cycle as early as possible
in the morning and leave so that you can enjoy the cool breeze on the way as well. Note that the route is generally flat and easily cyclable if haven’t done mountain biking before.
After first 4 days, I spent next 3 nights in Musafir Homes (₹400 per night) and Musafir Cafe, which happens to be top rated Tripadvisor Resturant in Bir; 5 stars from me.
Protip: If in Musafir Cafe, do order their special Iced Tea. They add homegrown mint in the tea.
I also went to:
Vairagi Cafe – good cafe in center of chougan if you want to grab a quick bite, 4 Stars
Silver Linings Cafe – pasta there was amazing, 5 Stars
Osho Resturant and Cafe – my advice, avoid this one, expensive and mediocre food, 2 Stars
Ram Bahadur Cafe – do try Thukpa and Momos, 5 stars
Garden Cafe – cozy and awesome tea, 5 stars
Avva’s – Good south indian food and amazing view, 5 Stars
I would say, there’s so much to do and explore in Bir, don’t restrict yourself go out and try something new. At the end of Bir trip I had about ₹3.5k left in my pocket.
Phase II of the journey begins in Kullu. I could only reach there after Dusshera, but since the festival lasts for 7 days beginning on Dusshera, I was hopeful that I would still not miss the festival, and right I was. First time I saw that much crowd in a Festival along with 100s of shopping booths, 100s of makehift temples, grand stages and the best part amusement rides.
Brief about the festival:
Dussehra in Kullu valley is a much awaited and celebrated festival. This week-long festival starts with a procession of Lord Raghunath, along with other deities, carried on a Ratha across the town. The village Gods and minor deities are also a part of this celebration. The centre of the festivities is the Dhalpur maidan. The pleasant weather and breathtaking beauty of the valley along with the celebrations fill the visitors with eternal happiness and satisfaction. The festival gets merrier with dancing, drinking and feasting for a week. The Kala Kendra festival is held at night where several activities and cultural events take place. Thousands of people from all over the country and world visit this place during Dussehra. The festival is very well organized which only makes the experience worth remembering. [link]
The festival ground becomes so crowded after the evening that I couldn’t even bring my camera out to take photos. The grand rides, children all around, crowded streets and shops. The festival had everything that you expect from one.
While attending the festival, I was staying at Bro’s Hostel, Manali. The place is 2 hours away from the Dusshera Ground, but the hosts there are my friends and I wanted to visit Old Manali once again. The stay costed me ₹300 per night and Bus to and fro Manali to Kullu is ₹70-75.
All in all, this was one of the best travel vacations I ever took. This one went pretty good compared to how spontaneous trips go. And yes I was able to [barely] manage the 10k budget.