International Women’s Day: Treat yourself to solitude and adventure in the Himalayas

Priyadarshini Maji

From an uber energetic metropolitan to the exotic beaches and mountains, people are taking and cherishing solo adventure trips. Empowering, exciting, challenging, these are the few things that mostly describe a solo trip-and research shows it’s on the rise, especially with women.

If you are one of those who are lost somewhere in the metropolitans in meaningless drama – go traveling solo. The Indian tourism market is fast catching pace with two terms – 'offbeat destination' and 'adventure sports'. This small town located about 65 kilometers from Dharamshala, Bir Billing qualifies on both. Offering not only solitude but a range of adventure activities, Bir billing in the Himalayas is the perfect getaway. Ankush Rana, Managing Partner, Zostel Bir, says "When we travel in groups, we tend to take the same work-related topics to the vacation. We end discussing the baggage of relationships and past. However, solo travel lets us observe, introspect and reflect. We engage with locals and open up to accept and learn more."

The best place to stay

For solo travelers, the first and preferred choice of stay is hostels, and what better than the chain of Zostle’s. This Women’s Day, if you are also among the few planning to travel solo for the first time and indecisive about where to stay, take a look at the new place of Zostel in Bir – Zostel 2.0. It is a new opening of Zostel, and the place has been brought together keeping in mind female solo travelers. The location of the new Zostel property is a little far from the main market. It’s a 1.7 km uphill walk from the main market road, however, the walking distance is worth it.

The place throws an arty and youthful vibe and is well managed, starting from its neat rooms, and dorms. Not only does this place offer separate dorms for females, but there are also separate rooms that you can opt for if you want to stay alone. Zostel 2.0, comes with its own restaurant/cafe, located in the open area outside, wherein you can enjoy the perfect view of nature and bonfire in the evenings. The landing site, is also near to the Zostel properly, which is a plus point for people going for paragliding.

Paragliding – The adventure sports

Bir is home to a large Tibetan exile community, however, that’s not what it is famous for. Bir billing is well known for its paragliding experience. At an altitude of 1,525 meters, it is mostly known for India's best paragliding experience. There are several reasons why it is considered as one of the top sites for paragliding in India. The topography of the region, make wind sailing here a pleasurable experience and can be done for a longer duration. In 2015, the Paragliding World Cup was held here, after which this small and almost unknown town has become a favorite among adventure enthusiasts. Since it has evolved into a paragliding base, there are several companies and instructors to choose from with plenty of experience behind them. Paragliding here is also a bit safer than other places. The very name of Bir Billing now stands as a synonym to paragliding and several other adventure sports like trekking, mountain biking, and bungee jumping.

Much more to explore

If you are among the one who is not interested in adventure sports, Bir is still the place for you to visit to spend some time in peace. There are plenty of treks around here that one can venture upon. Bir is also home to several monasteries, NGOs, and institutes.

What you will not find here is the regular tourist crowd like Shimla, Manali, Mcleodganj or Dharamshala, but at the same time, it’s not too remote, you will not go too far away from civilization. The majority of the visitors in this town are the ones looking forward to paragliding, while the rest are interested in meditation courses, ecotourism, and volunteering. This makes Bir a perfect place for anyone wanting to spend time in a peaceful place without going too remote. Rana of Zostel adds, "Bir is a melting pot of cultures with shepherds, Tibetans, long term foreign travelers and adventure enthusiasts living together in the area for the last 50 years."

Whether it is by choice or because your schedule does not fit with someone else's, solo travel is a fascinating ride that every female should experience. It feeds your passions, stretches your comfort zone, and promotes self-discovery. The chirping of the birds, night sky and views of the valley are best enjoyed in solitude.