Everywhere I go, doors follow

I was glued to my window seat in the tempo traveller, which was my vehicle for the seven days of road tripping from Delhi to Himachal. I was soon reaching my last destination, the twin towns of Bir-Billing, popular for paragliding.  It is not often I travel in a group and that too with strangers.

However, a road trip to Himachal sounded enticing. It was also a place I had never visited earlier.

It was afternoon and most of my travel companions were fast asleep.Having changed my position several times to find that one comfortable spot, I eventually I gave up. More so, because I  saw a number of colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind in the backdrop of the picturesque mountains.

The prayer flags amidst the beautiful house
The prayer flags amidst the beautiful house

Bir-Billing is becoming a popular adventure paragliding site and last October, the paragliding world cup was held in Bir. It took a while to place the prayer flags with the adventures sport. Someone from the seat behind me said, “ This is  peaceful.” Eventually, the rest of the 11 were also up.

We traversed through a Tibetan settlement and all of us by now were hooked to the window seat. We were in Chauntara, a small village in the Mandi town near Bir in Himachal Pradesh where the monastery was located. Google search told that according to the 2011 census, the village had a population of only 380 people which comprised 85 houses.

Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro is a Buddhist institute and monastrey established by the Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Rinponche, a man who heads Siddhartha’s Intent with a mission to spread the teachings of Buddhism.

Standing tall. The monastery of Dzongsar Khyentse Riponche Institute at Chauntra near Bir
Standing tall. The monastery of Dzongsar Khyentse Riponche Institute at Chauntra near Bir
The view, tranqulity and peace
The view, tranquility and peace
The statue of Buddha in the Dzongsar Kjyentse Rinpoche Institite, Chauntra
The statue of Buddha in the Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche Institute, Chauntra Pic Courtesy: Aashish Gundesha

In 2003, the Dalia Lama himself inaugurated the monastery. It accommodates 500 student monks who learn about Tibetian Buddhism.  I was clueless about the importance of the monastery until I reached there. Fortunately, a traveller amongst us had visited the monastery before and I was glad we made it here.

The monks gathering in the evening for their chant. Location: Chauntara. Pic courtesy: Aashish Gundesha
The monks gathering in the evening for their chant. Location: Chauntara. Pic courtesy: Aashish Gundesha

Everywhere I go, doors follow

Everywhere I go, doors follow

It did feel as if I was taken back to a different era and felt at peace. Even when I was travelling with 10 other people, I had time for myself. We also heard the student monks chant in the evening. This place is something I would recommend everyone to witness.

It is not a typical tourist place but if you are an offbeat travel enthusiast, you sure will like the serenity of the place. The entry is free.

Photography is allowed. One should be careful with the use of flash and not disrupt the harmony of the place.

Vital Information 

How to reach Chauntara and Bir: Chauntara is closest to the town of Bir located 15 km from Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh.

From Delhi, one can take a train to Pathankot. There is an early morning toy train from Pathankot to Ajhu, 3 km from Bir. It takes about 7 hours to reach Bir. However, one can also take a cab from Pathankot.

If going by bus, one can hop on a bus heading to Dharamshala, Mandi, Manali, Shimla or Bajnath.

Stay: You may make Bir your base as it is easy to find homestays and guest houses in Bir.

However, if you want to travel slow and have time in hand, you can head to the Deer Park. They are always on the lookout for long-term volunteers. A dorm costs Rs 100 a day and additionally if you want a room to yourself, it costs Rs 600. They are always full so it would be a good idea to book in advance. For more information check The Deer Park 

Local Food: On must try the Apple Cider beer which is locally produced in Bir. It gives a high too soon. So be cautious!  Bir  also has some tea gardens and one can savour the local tea.

P:S : The trip was sponsored by The Big Bang Trip.

The thoughts and content shared here remain mine.


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