A close couple came with the idea of travelling somewhere with 9 days of leave that were possible on a particular week at the end of October, 2016. We tossed out a couple of ideas, and froze on Spiti Valley. It would be just perfect, very cold, but not snowed shut. They would be able to … Read more
There are many, many quaint villages in the Himalayas, and how we wish we could visit as many of them as possible before they get commercially exploited and lose their charm and innocence.
Nashala is one such quaint Himalayan village. Towards the right of Naggar Haveli, a winding 5km road around the hills, and through pine forests lies this gorgeous village, where most of the homes are still traditional in architecture. This sleepy agrarian village was the perfect spot for us to spend a day hanging around, photographing. Stay was in Manali, and all meals at Naggar Castle. Katrain could also be a good place to stay with delicious home cooked meals in your own tree house!
After a hectic recce in Kullu, our shoot got postponed. Therefor, we had the option of going to Delhi and wait out for further information or explore somewhere in Himachal. Just then, a team member suggested Bir-Billing and we jumped on it.
Bir – Billing are two different but closely linked places. Bir is a tiny village town, which has scenic meadows, farms, forests and is also a Buddhist settlement. As such, it has many monasteries and a stupa as well. Bir is a quiet, sleepy little village, yet not big on the tourism map, which is what makes it all the more attractive. Once in Bir, we stayed at the Namlang Himal Resort, a beautiful tucked away resort amidst trees and meadows, made of tiny independent cottages, each named after a town/village of Himachal. The rooms are basic, there is no room service, which we didn’t mind at all, and the food served at their dining area is excellent. The only thing that made me sad about Namlang Himal was a poor imprisoned Alexandrine Parakeet. Upon asking I was told she had a damaged wing and was unable to fly. I tried to connect with some local wildlife groups to rehabilitate the parakeet, but haven’t heard more on the issue. If you do visit Namlang Himal, do check on the parakeet.
There isn’t much to do in Bir apart from long walks through the village and meadows, and visits to the monasteries. This makes Bir an excellent place to unwind. There are plenty of treks around as well.
Billing is the paragliding hotspot of the world!
Billing is a meadow in the forests, a 7km hike (or drive) away at an altitude of 2400 metres above sea level. It’s weather and wind makes it one of the best destinations in the world for paragliding. September to October are supposed to be the best times for flying, though when we visited in end May, lots of people were still flying.
The para-gliders land at the meadow of the village Chaugan, at a place conveniently named ‘Landing’. It’s a pretty little meadow with a lone tea-shop (tapri) under a tree, which sells chai, cigarettes, instant noodles etc to visitors. Every evening at Landing is like a little festival with gliders landing, local people out for a walk, and an excellent sunset in the cool Himachal breeze. Chaugan is the village which has the most number of tourist accomodations, bicycle rental and sale shops, and plenty of eateries. The food here is yet unspoilt and still tastes of home made fare.
This year in October (2015), Billing is set to host a World Championship of Paragliding. The tiny village town is gearing up with plenty of construction and new shops are opening almost every day.
Over the years Manali has become too commercial with over-development, and honestly, parts of Manali seem as polluted, dusty and congested as certain parts of Mumbai. While on a trip to Kulu Manali, we desperately looked for a quaint escape. We found Katrain. A small village of apple orchards. And we found our stay in … Read more