Bir Tibetan Colony

Monks in Bir tibetan colony, 2008

Bir Tibetan Colony is a Tibetan refugee settlement in the Himalayan village of Chowgan on the outskirts of the town of Bir, in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India.[1]

Bir Tibetan Colony

Bir Tibetan Colony is located in Himachal Pradesh
Bir Tibetan Colony
Bir Tibetan Colony
Location in Himachal Pradesh, India
Bir Tibetan Colony is located in India
Bir Tibetan Colony
Bir Tibetan Colony
Bir Tibetan Colony (India)
Coordinates: 32°01′N 76°26′E / 32.02°N 76.43°E / 32.02; 76.43Coordinates: 32°01′N 76°26′E / 32.02°N 76.43°E / 32.02; 76.43
Country India
RegionNorth India
StateHimachal Pradesh
1,404 m (4,606 ft)
 • OfficialHindi, English
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
176 077
Telephone code91-1894

Bir Tibetan Colony was established in the early 1960s by Chokling Rinpoche following the exile of the Dalai Lama and other refugees from Tibet.[2]

The Tibetan Colony houses several Tibetan monasteries (representing the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya traditions), a Tibetan handicraft center, a Tibetan Children's Village school (Suja), a branch of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute (Men-Tsee-Khang), a medical clinic, and the Deer Park Institute. It is also home to a number of shops, cafés, and guest houses.


Bir Tibetan Colony is located in the western half of the village of Chowgan, on the southwestern edge of the town of Bir, in the Tehsil (administrative subdivision) of Baijnath, in the District of Kangra, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

Bir Tibetan Colony is located east-southeast of Dharamshala and is three hours by bus from Dharamshala. It is situated 6 km south of the popular paragliding destination of billing, on the way to the Thamsar Pass leading to Bara Bhangal.

Geologically, Bir is situated in the Dhauladhar Range of the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.

The nearest railway station is Ahju, on the narrow-gauge line running between Pathankot and Jogindernagar via Kangra.

Road access to Bir Tibetan Colony is from the Bir Road turnoff (signposted) on NH20, approximately midway between Baijnath and Jogindernagar.

Detailed travel tips for Bir are available at the Bir Portal.


The population of Bir Tibetan Colony is primarily Tibetan refugees, but there are also a number of Indian families and a small community of international expatriates and long-term visitors. Note that it is only the Bir Tibetan Colony itself that is primarily settled by Tibetan refugees: the population of the town of Bir proper is almost entirely Indian.

The majority of the Tibetan refugees based in Bir originally came from the Kham region of southeastern Tibet, but many of the refugees living in the Colony today were born in India, and the population continues to diversify.


Central school on a main street in Chowgan

There are several institutions in Bir that attract tourists, students, volunteers and other visitors from around India and from abroad:

The Deer Park Institute is a 'centre for the study of classical Indian wisdom traditions' established by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in March 2006 under the patronage of the Dalai Lama.[3]

Chokling Gompa is the monastery of Neten Chokling Rinpoche, a reincarnate lama in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the director of the film Milarepa (2006). Chokling Gompa is a point of architectural interest, with a grand prayer hall and a picturesque stupa.

There are also several other monasteries and temples in the Tibetan Colony, and the Tibetan herbal clinic (Men-Tsee-Khang) and handicraft centre also serve as tourist attractions. The major monastery of Sherab Ling and Katoch Homestay is just a few minutes away in nearby Bhattu village. The Dzongsar Institute (a Tibetan Buddhist monastic college) is in nearby Chauntara.

Dharmalaya is an Indian charitable society (NGO) based in Bir, which is 'devoted to education, service, and compassionate living, with a practical focus on sustainable village development, contemplative service-learning, and immersive ecotourism.'.[4][5]

In popular cultureEdit

Bir was the setting for Khyentse Norbu's first feature film, The Cup (Phörpa) (1999), which was based on events that took place in Bir during the 1998 World Cup final and was shot on location in Bir.[6]


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  5. ^ *"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^,9171,411452,00.html

External linksEdit