The village of Bir (elevation: 1400m), located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh India, is internationally famous as the base for some of the best paragliding in the world. The take-off point at Billing, 14km up a winding road from Bir and 1000m higher, hosts major competitive flying events most years in October or November (including a round of the Paragliding World Cup in 2015). Experienced paragliders fly as far as Dharamshala, Mandi and Manali from here.
Bir is also an important center of the Tibetan exile community: the lower half of the village is known as Tibetan Colony and there are several Buddhist monasteries and institutes in and around Bir, some of which attract numbers of foreigners for courses and retreats.
Mcleod Ganj is the place where India meets Tibet. When travelers talk of heading up to Dharamshala (to see the Dalai Lama), this is where they mean. Three kilometers north of Dharamshala town (or 10km via the looping bus route), McLeod Ganj is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and home to a large Tibetan population, including many monks and nuns. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based just downhill at Gangchen Kyishong. McLeod attracts thousands of international visitors each year to volunteer with the Tibetan community, take courses in Buddhism, meditation or yoga, trek in the Dhauladhar mountains, shop for Tibetan crafts, or just hang out and enjoy the low-budget spiritual/alternative vibe and the many good cafes and restaurants dishing up Indo-Italo-Israeli-Tibetan food.
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