Bir is a town in the eastern end of the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh with a friendly, relaxed Indian population and a large Tibetan (Khampa) community. It is home to several educational institutions, monasteries, and nonprofit organizations (NGOs), and is becoming a popular off-the-beaten-path destination for meditation courses, volunteering, and ecotourism.
Bir Billing Camping is eco-friendly and developed in a sustainable way. They used bamboo in their camp site to build a common bath and toilets. Bamboo is also used for the bases of the tents to elevate them off the ground and reduce the use of concrete. The tents are safe and insulated from rain water. Camping food is mostly cooked from locally grown vegetables by nearby villagers. Waste water is cleaned in a traditional way, by stone sand recycling, and released to orchid trees. Kitchen waste is divided into recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable. All biodegradable wastes are decomposed and utilized accordingly.
AryaMarga Yoga institute transmits the experience of Integral Yoga of the ancient lineage of 84 Mahasiddhas. They teach the 4 Yogas (Hatha, Mantra, Tantra and Samadhi) separately in retreats and in an integrated form in the Teachers and Advanced Teachers Training Courses. The courses, based on the traditions therefore give importance to specific techniques-physical, mental and senses based, that cause the inner experiences which are required for progress in the path of Yoga. You can also drop-over for daily classes as well.
The Dharmalaya Institute offers volunteer and service-learning opportunities for short- and long-term visitors. Activities include green building (traditional adobe and bamboo eco-construction), organic farming, tree planting, trail building, etc. The best times to volunteer are October–December and March–May, but work can be done year-round for those who don't mind the cold of winter and the rain of the monsoon season.
The Dharmalaya Institute hosts weekly sitting meditation groups and talks. These group meditation and discussion sessions, which follow the curriculum of the Tergar Meditation Community, are open to everyone regardless of background or experience level. They are free of charge, with donations welcome but not required. (Seasonal: see http://dharmalaya.in/meditation-programmes/ for details.)
Dharmalaya is set on a hillside with breathtaking views over Bir and the Kangra Valley, with accommodation for volunteers and visitors currently in comfortable tents and a dormitory, with traditional adobe buildings currently under construction (in 2012). Serves great vegetarian, mostly organic food.
An eco-campus for compassionate living, set on a hill with breathtaking views overlooking Bir and the Kangra Valley, offering programs in sustainable living and contemplative practice, and creating green jobs for local villagers.
A Karma Kagyü Tibetan Buddhist Monastery located in woodlands between Bir and Baijnath, headed by the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche and also host of frequent visits from Mingyur Rinpoche.
A nice place in Upper Bir (Bir Proper) with homely environment having nine luxurious rooms with attached bathrooms, 24 hot water, great Indian food on order.
Pleasant rooms (16 doubles) with attached bathrooms (solar heated showers )Quiet environment and Restaurant Facilities
Electric heated showers. Nice hostess and husband. Very clean. Fast food joint also with Wi-Fi facility.
An eight room guest house. Big, cold rooms - sometimes solar heated water for showers. No restaurant.
A nice place with 14 rooms with 24-hour hot water and Wi-Fi in every corner of the hotel.
Electric heated showers.Restaurant facilities,12 bedrooms,www.birresorthotel.com.
Bir is a small mountain town in northern Himachal Pradesh with a large, well-established Tibetan community. Set against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar Range of the Indian Himalayas, the town is picturesque, although the rubbish-strewn roadsides and waterways of the Tibetan Colony (down the hill from Bir proper) are an unfortunate contrast to its golden roofed temples, and to the greenery of Upper Bir (Bir Proper) and the surrounding villages. The Tibetan Colony is actually in the village of Chowgan. Bir proper, sometimes referred to as "Indian Bir" or "Upper Bir", is the small market and surrounding farming community located in the foothills above Chowgan.
The founding of Bir: Local accounts indicate that Bir was first settled by immigrants from Bengal around 1600 C.E. These families settled in Bir proper. Other groups migrated in much more recently, starting in the early 20th century C.E. http://birhp.com/history-of-bir/
The Tibetan Colony: In 1966 the third Neten Chokling (1928-1973), an incarnate lama of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, brought his family and a small entourage to Bir. With the help of foreign aid Neten Chokling purchased over 200 acres of land and established a Tibetan settlement where 300 Tibetan families were given land to build houses. At this time Chokling Rinpoche also started building in Bir a new Neten monastery and disciples who had followed him into India formed its first sangha. When the third Chokling Rinpoche passed away in 1973, his eldest son, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche (b 1951), assumed responsibility for completing his father’s vision. The fourth Neten Chokling incarnation was born in 1973 in Bhutan and brought to Bir at a young age where the family of the third Chokling took him under their wings. In 2004 full responsibility for Pema Ewam Chögar Gyurme Ling Monastery in Bir was passed to the fourth Neten Chokling. The monastery, now a place of study and practice for over 120 monks, served as the setting for Khyentse Norbu’s 1999 feature film “The Cup.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0201840/
Other Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Bir include: Palyul Chökhorling Monastery (Nyingma) under the guidance of Rigo Tulku Rinpoche; Bir Dirru Monastery / Bir Sakya Lama Society under the guidance of the 15th Gyalsay Tulku Rinpoche and the 14th Dungyud Rinpoche; and Drikung Dozin Theckcho Ling Monastery (Drikung Kagyu) under guidance of Ontul Rinpoche.