INTRODUCTION: For those people who are tired of crowded hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie, Manali etc., the thickly wooded forest of BINSAR with loads of GREENERY and CRISP MOUNTAIN AIR to soothe your eyes, body and soul is the best place to go. It is indeed very, very green and at 2100-2400 m height is cool enough to keep you fresh all day. Although i have been here 2-3 times before in smaller groups, this time I had taken 12 family members in three cars, all belonging to different age group - from 6 months to 64 years old and BINSAR did not disappoint any one. In fact it is one of our most memorable family trips and is very much recommended for romantic couples as well as loners, writers and nature lovers.
LOCATION/ HOW TO REACH: Binsar is about 400 kms from Delhi via Moradabad, Rampur, Udham Singh Nagar, Haldwani, Bhowali, Garampani and Almora. It is 25 kms from Almora on the Bagheshwar Road and 2 kms after Kaparkhan Village. From Almora, there are two roads to approach it. One is the main Bagheshwar Road and the second one goes past the Kasar Devi temple. This road is much more picturesque and is recommended. A forest check post would welcome you at the entrance to the Binsar hill as it is a protected wildlife sanctuary but i wonder if there is much wildlife there apart from birds. The roads are very good, in fact excellent till Almora. It would take about 10-11 hours from Delhi and 4 - 4.5 hours from Haldwani. We took a night halt in Haldwani and then left for Binsar in morning so that we could maximise our stay there.
THINGS TO DO: The best thing to do here is to walk or relax and soak in the sight of beautiful forest, scented air and green valleys. Do not forget to take the 3 km walk from the KMVN hotel to the BINSAR hilltop. It is worth every calorie spent and the view from the watch tower at the top is breathtaking. In clear weather, the snow capped peaks are very clearly visible. Do not forget to carry your raincoats/ umbrellas and also your binoculars if you enjoy birdwatching. There are many places nearby within 2-3 hours drive like Jageshwar, Patal Bhubneshwar but you need a complete day to visit each of them. Although Jageshwar has a very good setting in a narrow valley of Deodar trees and a stream with ancient temples, the money minded priests there spoil the experience which could have been excellent in their absence. To go to Jageshwar, you can all the way to Almora and then turn left for jageshwar or alternatively you can take a semi-kutcha route which turns left after about 1 km from the Binsar sanctuary gate and then joins the road which goes from Seraghat to Barechhina. This road is goes through the Binsar forest and there are 2/3 water springs enroute which should have water if you are not too unlucky. Nice places for picnic.
PLACES TO STAY: We stayed at the KHALI Estate which was built by Sir Henry Ramsay and has been a host to lot of celebrities like Gandhi Family, Vijaylakshmi Pandit, Ma Amritanandmayi etc. It is very green inside the resort also and the place itself is very infectious with very homely staff. It has facilities for badminton, lawn tennis, fireplaces, well stocked library and offers very good food. (Website - http://www.resorthimalaya.com/) There is KMVN Tourist bungalow at the hilltop which has very good rustic charm and can be very good to enjoy ghost stories :). There is no electricity here and the candlelights add a certain charm in the nights. There is a forest rest house as well a kilometer ahead. (http://www.kmvn.org/)
The Club Mahindra Resort is 10 kms ahead of Binsar and is at an elevation of about 1500-1600 metres. So it is not that cool there and hence would not recommend it inspite of having very good facilities. (Website - http://www.mhril.com/) So just go ahead and enjoy the place and please do not recommend it to too many people lest the place loses its character.
This Travelogue 'Binsar - Best of Kumaon'
was posted by AV on Monday, April 30, 2007.
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