My birthday month – May, had just started and with it started our search for a trip that we do every year. But since my birth date this year was falling on a Weekday, we had to plan something prior to it. So, it was mutually decided that we would do it on a weekend prior to the D-day. But we were not able to finalize a destination. We had already been to most of the Weekend getaway options that we get on internet that ‘we can drive to’. So, a little bit of context setting, my partner in crime or rather my ‘Pati’ as I like to call him loves to drive down himself in his car and I don’t know how to drive, so the options that we are left with should be a 6-8 hour drive away. And we have been to almost all the places in that range. The day is nearing, and we still do not have a destination yet. All tensed up, I am having a cup of tea with my friends in office and one of them suggests me this place called Binsar in Almora. I google it up and it says is a 10-hour drive. At the back of my mind I drop this as an option; but my friend goes on and on telling me about how mesmerising this place is. On my way back home, I pop up this conversation I had with my friend at tea with my ‘Pati’. We go home, read about the place and find out that it is “The most unexplored places in Uttarakhand”. What else could we have asked for, a small secluded getaway that gives us something new to explore, far from the hustle bustle of the city and away from the tremendous pressure of meetings and deadlines we deal daily.
Now started the process of planning and bookings for the travel. This is something that my better half is good at and I leave it to him. We, as you all know by now were driving down to Binsar in our own car so no travel bookings, but the car had to be serviced for a 420 km drive. However; if you plan to go by Flight, Pant Nagar is the nearest airport, located around 152 kms away. Post that you can hire a taxi all the way to Binsar. If you happen to travel by Train, you need to take a train to Kathgodam; take a cab or a bus post that. While booking hotels or resort; I would suggest stay within The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary or above. We decided to stay at Tree of Life Resort – The Grand Oak Manor in Binsar, it is a heritage property built by the British Commissioner of Kumaon, General Sir Henry Ramsay in 1856, it has been restored into a hotel now. It is a charming mountain top retreat in the forest, with silence and only whistling palm trees which soothes you.
Binsar is in the Himalayas on top of the Jhandi Dhar hills. It’s about 33 kms from the Almora town in Uttarakhand. It was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1988. The Sanctuary is spread over an area of 45.59 square km and situated at an altitude of around 2400 mts. Binsar is an excellent place to visit as it has so much to offer from flora to fauna, from natural beauty to divine peace, from mountain treks to just sitting and enjoying the first rays of morning sun meandering through the oak trees, it has something for everyone.
We started our trip early at 3.30 AM in the morning on Friday, to avoid the city traffic. With Sun not up yet, roads all empty, driving at a good speed and good music, we hit the road. With smile on our faces as our weekend had arrived and our hearts filled with the excitement to see the highest point in the whole of Almora region and all the snow-clad mighty Himalayas; we did not realize the time till we started getting calls from office as the office hours had begun and it was not a weekend yet for other people…sad as it is we had to take up the calls and had to make few pit stops to open our laptop and send some mails. As you very well know; you have got to do what is got to be done. We also stopped at a shop to have tea and…. Maggie, obviously, we are in the hills baby…it’s a ritual!!! And I really don’t know why is it that Maggie that we eat in any hill station is always the best that we have eaten so far…??? Does anyone have a logic or a reason for this? Please do let me know in the comment section below. We were about to reach the resort when our google map stopped helping us, so we thought of calling the resort people up. After a little bit of explaining where we were exactly they told us that we had reached, and we need to park our car there and they will come and pick us up from there. They came in a 4*4 Jeep, helped us park and took us to the resort above. The road that we traveled on this 4*4 Jeep was quite adventurous, I must say. We reached the resort at 2 PM. The location of the resort is just perfect, amid the forest, is all you need.
We checked in our room, the rooms are cute and comfortable with an amazing view. The electricity runs on solar power, so there is a time for everything. The best part there is no TV in the rooms, no Wi-Fi so no distractions from the world that you just ran away from for peace. Second thing, that I really liked was they have this kind of living room with books and magazine and a cute little old type writer at the corner, you can come down here any time sit, chat and read books to enjoy your time. We took a tour of this resort clicked some pictures, it was beautiful and serene in and out both. We took some rest and then in the evening sat sipping our sweet tea and pakoras while the beautiful sun waved us good-bye. Every meal that they served in this resort had a menu specially curated for us – the guest, which is just so touching.
Next day, we woke up early to the most spellbinding sunrises ever. Had our tea and breakfast and decided to go on a Zero Point Trek, it’s a 2 km trek which take 3-4 hours depending on your speed and stamina. This is the highest point in Binsar at around 7800 feet. We hired a local guide and started our trek from the Resort through the walking trails to Zero Point. The trek was a bit tiring as we don’t workout much but the view that we saw at the end of it was worth it. The view from Zero Point would leave anyone stunned. It is a piece of sheer beauty for any photographer. Beyond the hills are the snow-capped peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Kedarnath. At the Zero Point is a big Machan which can be called a vantage point for the sky kissing peaks, the tall pine and oak trees wrapped in mist and the piercing sun rays through the canopy. The guide told us that in summers there are forest fires build up and destroy the beautiful jungles, which is kind of sad. We enjoyed our trek through the jungle, it was heart-warming. There were moments while going up the trail when I was almost breathless and thought I would not be able to make it, but we took halts and breaks while our guide was busy giving us facts and stories to keep us entertained. We reached the hotel in lunch time.
In the evening we sat in the balcony playing carom, enjoying our tea and snacks with some soothing old songs. While the sun was setting, and we were enjoying the mighty Himalayas, we were informed that a bonfire was being arranged for us. We got all excited and moved to the area. Everyone sat around the bonfire; there was a big family from Delhi and the two of us gazing the fire and sometimes the sky. Then someone from the other family started to talk about their encounter with Ghosts and that was the start of the adventurous night. It was weird to hear that each one in that group had a story of their own, but it was fun and hilarious to listen to. It was a great way to spend the evening with so many unknown faces, not even our age, no grudges, no worries and no deadlines, only dancing flames of fire and the vast infinite sky above. Oh Lord! Wish I could capture this moment forever. You do not need to meditate to feel at peace here you just sit, and Mother nature takes you on its lap and gives you all that you had wished for – the peace, the calm, the romance and the magic. But why does it have to end? Why can’t this time stay forever? Knowing, it is inevitable that all good experiences must come to an end doesn’t make it easier to go home after a vacation. We then headed to have our special candle light dinner in the balcony with only the two of us and the nature by our side. Tonight’s menu again was specially created for us as we had shown our interest in Kumaoni local cuisine. It was a beautiful night that would always be remembered with good food, loads of laughs and soulful music that nature was playing.
Next day, after having our breakfast; we headed back to the plains. With lots of fond memories, captured moments of scenic beauty of Binsar in our hearts that has been engraved on our hearts, we leave. This trip to Binsar – I must say has been the most peaceful, enthralling and overwhelming trip ever…!!!