Bir is one of the most idyllic places for a holiday, a retreat, or an adventure in the Indian Himalayas. The greater Bir area offers a range of accommodation options, including some of the best ecotourism destinations in Himachal Pradesh. They are listed here grouped by area (see our Greater Bir Orientation to get your bearings):
- Bir proper (Upper Bir)
- Tibetan Colony (at the west end of Chowgan village, down the hill to the south of Bir proper)
- Chowgan (the part of Chowgan village east of the Tibetan Colony, straddling the main, north-south Bir Road)
- Ghornala (a beautiful, tranquil, forested village just a few kilometres west of Bir)
- Other options in the vicinity of Bir
Hotels/Guesthouses in Bir Proper (Upper Bir)
- Bhawani Guest House: A quiet place at the west end of Upper Bir with a ‘homely environment’. Has nine comfortable rooms with attached bathrooms and ’24-hour hot water’ (if there is such a thing in India). Serves Indian meals with advance order. Rs 300-700 for double rooms. Email: email@example.com ☎ + 91 (1894) 268025, 98574-60215, or 94180-15525
- Family homestays (with private rooms) and long-term rentals: Contact Dharmalaya Institute.
Hotels/Guesthouses in Bir Tibetan Colony
NOTE: Foreigners (anyone other than Indians, Tibetans, Nepalis, and Bhutanese) wishing to stay overnight in the Bir Tibetan Colony will need to apply for a Protected Area Permit (PAP) from the Indian Government. See our blog for details.
- Chokling Guesthouse: Near Chokling Monastery. Sixteen pleasant rooms (some nicer than others) with attached bathrooms and solar-heated showers. Reasonably quiet setting facing the impressive stupa of the monastery. Restaurant serves decent Tibetan food (and veg sushi) in a less chaotic setting than most eateries in the colony. Rooms start at Rs 250. Checkout: 12:00 noon ☎ +91 88942-32589 or 88941-12325
- Dzongsar Guesthouse: An eight-room guesthouse near Deer Park with somewhat cavernous rooms (can be cold in winter). Sometimes has solar-heated water for showers. No restaurant on premises, but Chokling (above) is nearby. Singles Rs 200, Doubles Rs 250. ☎ +91 (1894) 251-787
- Emaho Guesthouse: Has a few rooms with attached bath. ☎ +91 (1894) 268-197 or 98162-12678
- Palden Guesthouse. Electric heated showers. Nice hostess and husband. Very clean. Fast food joint also with Wi-Fi facility. Rs 250 for double bed room, Rs 200 for single bed room.
- Hotel Surya Classic: Modern budget hotel with 14 rooms with attached bath, 24-hour(ish) hot water, and Wi-Fi internet. Rooms for Rs 700. ☎ +91 94180-46580
Hotels/Guesthouses in East Chowgan
- Bir Resort Hotel: An older place with 12 rooms, hot showers and a restaurant. Rooms for Rs 400. Web: www.birresorthotel.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ☎ +91 (1894) 268-367 or 98106-85753.
- Colonel’s Resort: The most upscale accommodation option in Chowgan, set amid tea gardens. The best rooms are in the newer wing and the cottages. Serves good food with good service. Well-suited for families, groups, and couples. Sometimes hosts student groups, which can be loud, so check in advance. Web: www.colonelsresort.com ☎ +91 98055-34220
- Sangrai Guesthouse: Nice, small, family-run place tucked off the main Colony Road amidst tea gardens and thus a bit quieter. ☎ +91 (1894) 268.669 or 94184.49669
In Ghornala Village (4km West of Bir)
- Dharmalaya: Perched on a hillside with breathtaking views of Bir and the surrounding mountains and valley, with accommodation for volunteers and visitors currently in comfortable tents, with traditional adobe buildings now under construction (to be completed in 2013). Serves great vegetarian, mostly organic food when there’s an organised programme running, and when there’s not, you can cook for yourself or with whoever else might be staying there (note the kitchen is vegan). Shared tent accommodation is on a donation basis, with private tents priced on a sliding scale. Web: dharmalaya.in.
- Ghornala Resort: Set in a verdant valley with mountain views, Ghornala Resort is run by a local family who are gracious hosts. There are presently three double rooms (all with attached bath) and a common dining area. Please note: The Ghornala Resort has few rooms, so please enquire before you show up.
- Long-term cottage rentals in Ghornala: Contact Dharmalaya Institute.
Elsewhere Around Bir
- Sherab Ling Monastery’s Guest House: Another nearby option (though quite a bit further than Ghornala Resort, and probably too far for most people to want to walk every day) is to stay at the very comfortable guest house at Sherab Ling Monastery. The facilities at the Sherab Ling guest house are some of the best in the greater Bir area, and it’s usually easy enough to arrange a taxi between Sherab Ling and Bir/Ghornala if the beautiful (long) walk through the forest doesn’t appeal. For details, see the web page of the Sherab Ling Guesthouse.
In the Palampur Area (About 1 Hour West of Bir by Car)
- The Mirage: ‘A Boutique Himalayan Homestay’ in the Andretta artists’ village. The Mirage is a traditional Himachali mud house lovingly restored as a luxury bed-and-breakfast with modern amenities. www.mirageandretta.com ☎ +91 (1894) 254.434
- Taragarh Palace Hotel: A luxury heritage hotel set in a picturesque residential estate nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. The property belongs to the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. www.taragarh.com
Did We Miss Anything?
If you’ve discovered another recommendable accommodation option in the Bir area, please post the details in the comments section below so we can add it to the list. Thanks!