Situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh (just two or three hours by road from Dharamshala), amidst paths winding through tea gardens, the charming Indian town of Bir (Hindi: बीड, Urdu: بیڑ) is known worldwide as a destination for ecotourism and meditation studies, and praised by visitors for its natural beauty. Bir is home to a community of over a thousand Indians, a Tibetan refugee settlement and a small but growing international population (mostly students of meditation and philosophy, volunteers, and seasonal waves of paragliders and other outdoors enthusiasts).
Bir Background: A Brief History of Bir
Local accounts, collected during the Dharmalaya Institute‘s interviews with local elders, indicate that the first permanent settlements in Bir were established by immigrants from Bengal around 1600 C.E. These families settled in the foothills of what is now Bir proper (Upper Bir). Other groups migrated to the area much more recently, starting in the early 20th century C.E., and settled mostly further down the hill, in the area now known as Chowgan.
The greater Bir area is a constellation of smaller villages at the western edge of the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. For the first-time visitor, the question of which part of this area is actually ‘Bir’ can be a bit confusing, since different populations use the name to refer to slightly different areas. Our virtual tour (courtesy of Dharmalaya), complete with maps and descriptions, will help you get your bearings.
Bir Guide for Travellers & Visitors
Bir is one of the most idyllic places for a holiday, a retreat, or an adventure in the Indian Himalayas. Our Bir Guide offers travel tips for getting to Bir and getting around once you’re here, as well as listings for accommodations, dining, shopping, and activities.
Bir Directory: Food, Shopping, Organisations, Businesses, & Services
For residents and visitors alike, our Bir Directory offers listings and contact information (where available) for local businesses, organisations, and services in the Bir area.
For links to information on Bir’s weather and other information related to the Bir area, see our Bir Links page.
We’re just getting started with the Bir Portal and we intend to increase the quantity and quality of information here over time. If you have anything to add, you’re more than welcome to post in the comments section. Anyone can create an account at the Bir Portal and post helpful comments and contributions whenever you’re inspired. Have fun!