Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Binsar – A Multi-Dimensional Destination On Kumaon Hills


5th November 2011

My Kumaon trip in November did not begin on a happy note. One of our tour mates had to drop out due to family reasons. Sachin and me carried on with a program charted out on our own. For the past four years we have not availed any of the package tours about which many travel companies vie with each other. We normally hired a car from base destination on daily lump-sum basis for the duration of our tour. That leaved us a lot of flexibility to travel as per our chalked out program or make any course correction, if necessary, in the mid-way through the trip. 

We reached Haldwani, which can be called as gateway to Kumaon Himalayas, a little after mid-night. The Sharda hotel, which we had booked was not far from station but turned out to be far from satisfactory with cockroach infested rooms, dirty towels; the only saving grace was availability of hot water in the next morning. We packed and checked out to our relief and also felt relieved to see our hired Indica car waiting to pick us up. 

At Starting Point, Haldwani

Our car driver happened to be an energetic young guy from Kumaon. Leaving Haldwani and Kathgodam behind, we were on hilly terrain. The first destination we encountered was Bhimtal and took a photo break. A picturesque lake with a boating facility, we did not lose much time to take a few snaps and some footage of video and decided to move on. 

Bhimtal

Seated on the window side we viewed a few of the cluster of seven lakes, the most prominent being named as  Sat Tal. This lake had boating facility, huge area amidst nature for picnic party revelers. The boats were decorated exquisite; some even had a huge dragon-head on frontal portion.  It took nearly half an hour to cover some of the lake areas. 

Sat Tal

On Bhowali – Almora road we came across Kainchi Temple  complex. The funny name Kainchi which means scissors has nothing to with this temple. The approaching road to this temple complex has two hair pin bends and hence the name Kainchi. The orange coloured temples looked great when viewed from the road at higher elevation.  

Kainchi Temple View


We entered the Binsar forested area by late afternoon. Sheer density of tall trees stopped the sunlight completely. Just before the entry gate to the Sanctuary, we noticed two beautiful looking rest houses named Kalmatia Sangam Himalayan Resort and Imperial Heights respectivly. At the entry gate, we went through the formalities like paying for entry permit valid for three days at the rate of Rs. 150/- per person and Rs. 250/- for the car. The driver was spared of the charges. We had a glance at a small shop named AIPEE selling organic food and cosmetics from Kumaon. We decided to buy something from this shop during our return journey.   
                                                                      
We travelled through the asphalt road within the forested area for nearly half an hour to reach Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Rest house. Checking done, we were given a double Super Deluxe room as per our booking the room on KMVN website, with a nice view of Himalayan ranges and also the view of the huge terraced area on adjoining structure, which is a relaxing place for tourists and for watching the sunrise view in early morning.  

Viewing Terrace, KMVN Binsar

With evening approaching, it was getting very cold. We had some tea at the canteen and walked over the terrace facing the backside fencing beyond which there was a dense forested area. Above the tree level the Himalayan Panorama can be watched seated on plastic chairs. The colourful flowers in the lawns added a touch of grandeur to the KMVN cottages.  We were planning to stretch our legs in the vicinity of the rest house; at the reception we were told, if we hurry, we would be able to reach the Forest Rest House, a short walk, a little beyond which the Sunset Point is located. We reached the Forest Rest House in quick 15 minutes; the bungalow appeared to be deserted.  A little distance towards Sun Point and we froze. Through the trees at a distance the setting sun was in its last few minute’s journey to augur the beginning of darkness. I shot some videos and regretted for not having brought the tripod along. In any case we decided to come a little early the next day to re-shoot the sunset from the actual Sunset Point. Returning, we made some enquiries and found the Uttaranchal Govt. guides were available for taking the tourists on a jungle walk in the day time, at the rate of Rs. 250/- per hour. We decided to think about it the next day.   

The buffet dinner which came along with room rent was a great relief in this forested area with no semblance of any habitation, leave alone a restaurant, anywhere near the guest house.  The tasty fare was mostly vegetarian with an egg curry thrown in for non-vegetarians, including a sweet dish. Returning to room in the shivering cold we planned for the next day’s program of having a sunrise view from terrace and a jungle walk with or without guide.

6th November 2011

We woke up early to watch the sunrise from the rooftop of adjoining structure. Donning all our warm cloths, standing, with a gentle cool breeze sending down chill, we watched the sunrise and the golden – orange hues on some of the Himalayan peaks.  With tripod in place, I had some of the finest video clips through my Handycam. The extravaganza lasted for about 20 minutes. Binsar happens to be a unique place, where the rising sun and the resultant glow on Himalayas, both the spectacles, are available simultaneously. The last minute capture of the rising sum appears to give a sunny smile appearance, akin to the picture of smiley we see so often in web text pages. 

Sunrise View

Sunny Smile - Sunrise at Binsar

After taking the morning tea, coming on the road, we decided to do away with official guide and ventured on our own to Zero Point trail. After nearly 1 km of gentle uphill walk though forested area, we reached a tower like structure built to view the Himalayan panorama. The stone-cement structure was of lesser height than the old painted iron structure. Himalayan view was in no way better than that from KMVN.  

Himalayan View from Binsar

The morning jungle walk was invigorating.  Walking on the rustling leaves on ground, the dense growth of tall trees, the cool shady path is any visitors delight. A few overseas tourists had an official guide with them passed by. They would be exploring much more than what we have so far. 

After heavy buffet breakfast which is included in room cost, we were ready to explore more places nearby in our hired car. We went out from the Sanctuary gate and within Binsar forested area, came to a place full of Fern trees with a signboard indicating Gerar Goludevta Temple. We passed through several red coloured arched gates, climbed on stone steps on a gentle slope. The temple appeared to be constructed inside a huge spherical stone with upper potion given a conical shape with a flag of trident at top, indicating it to be a Shiva temple. Inside the temple, we could see many stone Shiva Lingas with a few photos of Gods and Goddesses.  The temple compound is conspicuous with a huge number of bells and some flags hanging on several locations, which have been the work of devotees who wanted their wishes to be fulfilled.  There was a ritual of animal sacrifice in olden days. Nowadays the animal sacrifice is banned inside the  temple compound but it takes place outside in the jungle. 

Gerar Goludevta Temple

We re-entered the Binsar Sanctuary through the gate and this time took a detour and headed up for some distance to arrive at a huge Khali Estate, which serves another good but somewhat costly accommodation for tourists. At the entry point there is a temple. The garden is full of blooming flowers in front of the main single storied structure. We went through the gate to arrive at a large hall with olden style furniture.  At the back side an open area facing the Himalayas, has tables and seating arrangement for the visitors to relax. The seats are created from a simple cut tree trunk placed around the table. A family was relaxing there. Other attraction of this complex is a children’s park with games, a lawn tennis court and a badminton court, all amidst the forested area. 

Mountain Resort, Khali Estate, Binsar

While retreating to KMVN, we had a visit to Bineshwar Temple. The attraction of the place is large green Bhugyal in the vicinity of temple.  We had a darshan and talk with pujari who stays in a neighboring thatched house. Nearby we observed a cubicle made up of brickwork and cement for storing water flowing down the hills.


Bineshwar Temple, Binsar

Returning to KMVN we straightaway headed for lunch. The buffet lunch which is not part of the room tariff, has to be booked beforehand at an extra charge of Rs. 225/- per person. Evening approaching we made another trip to Forest Rest Hose and Sunset Point. With a lot of time in hand, keeping tripod in suitable location, got some good footages of the setting sun. 


7th November 2011

In early morning we had another view of glorious sunrise from terrace. After breakfast we were hanging around corridor of our room, when suddenly, I caught a young couple, standing near the backside railing of roof terrace, excitedly pointing to something on the boundary wall down below. With digicam in my hand, I rushed and took a few quick snaps of some wild life walking on the fencing. It appeared to be some species of Mongoose. We ran down near the back fencing, to get close view of those animals but they were gone.

Wild life at Binsar


Wild life at Binsar

Coming back to terrace, we spent some time spotting a few colorful birds but they were difficult to capture through the lens. Packing done, we were on the way to our next Kumaon destination Munshiyari.

Binsar visuals as per the captioned link:

Binsar National Park - Flora 

KMVN Binsar Rest House 

Sunrise View from KMVN Binsar 

Gerar Goludevta Mandir - Binsar 

Mountain Resort, Khali Estate - Binsar 

Bineshwar Temple - Binsar 

Sunset Point - Binsar 

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3 comments:

  1. Very nice post. I really liked your journey. Well known yet unexplored, Binsar is a unique blend of a popular hill station and a quiet retreat. The thrilling Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is of prime importance with a wide variety of animals and exotic birds. Home to the famous Bineshwar Mahadev Temple, Binsar is also a refreshing spiritual retreat. With enthralling natural beauty and encompassing views of the Himalayas, this charming hill station is certainly a surprise for travellers. Check out all hotels in Binsar also.

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