Binsar: A paradise for nature lovers
Far away from the madding crowd, nestled on top of the Kumaon Himalayas, is the Club Mahindra Binsar Valley Resort. The beautiful resort in Uttarakhand’s Binsar is located 90km from Nainital and 120km from Kathgodam railway station, by road.
We started the journey by taking a train from New Delhi to Kathgodam. The snake-y mountainous road journey from Kathgodam to Binsar is beautiful, with little streams and mountains along the way. We stopped at a small restaurant in Bhimtal for some tea and Maggi and yes, Maggi does taste better on the mountains!
At the resort, we were greeted with a yummy red-coloured drink called Buransh, made of rhododendron juice. The rooms were cosy and comfortable. It was a full moon night and the temperature dropped to around six degrees — as we huddled around a bonfire, shared spooky stories and tucked in our dinner.
Places to visit
The next day we started early at 6am to trek up to Zero Point in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. From this point you can see the Himalayan peaks such as Kedarnath, Shivling, Trisul, Panchchuli, Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi. It was a beautiful panoramic sight to behold — looking at the snowy Himalayan peaks glistening in the winter sun. The trek, which was also a nice opportunity for some bird-watching, wasn’t too tough as we walked through jungle roads lined with pine and ruby red rhododendron trees. Best part? We even spotted a bit of snow along the way!
We came back to the resort to have breakfast, pack lunch and leave for our next stop — the Jageshwar temples. Located 35.5 kilometres from Almora, the Jageshwar temples are a group of 125 temples of various shapes and sizes ranging between seventh century AD and 18th century AD. We checked out the museum nearby that had idols as old as the seventh century AD, on display and the adjacent Dandeshwar temple. The temple complex is surrounded by tall deodar trees on all sides and a small stream, Jata Ganga, flows in front of the temple. It was heart-warming to see small kids playing a game of cricket by the stream.
After a quick lunch along the way, we went to check out the famous Golu Devta temple in Chitai, around nine kilometres from Almora. It is said, every wish asked for in this temple comes true... and once it does? You come and tie a bell in the temple! Thousands of bells are strung around the temples along with stacks of letters written to Golu Devta, pinned on the temple walls. It was almost nearing sunset... a quick prayer and we left for the resort.
Things to do
The resort offers a range of varied experiences, from cultural activities to gourmet sessions, adventure activities to art workshops. We attended a traditional Kumaoni dance workshop at the activity centre and it was a lot of fun learning a new form of dance with the locals! There was even a handsome horse that we took a ride on around the resort.
You can also indulge in various activities like zip lining, rock climbing, rappelling, horse riding, camping and wildlife sanctuary tours, trekking, village walks and nature trails.
On our second and last night at the resort, a lavish Kumaoni dinner was laid out in a cosy little shack inside the resort. A bonfire kept everyone warm as we dug into local delicacies like Palak Ka Kapa, Arbi Ke Gutke, Gahat Ki Daal, Bhang Ki Jholi, Bhat Ka Jhola, Jhangora Rice, Bhang Ka Murg and Ragi Ki Roti. This cosy spot is perfect for couples staying at the resort to have an intimate dinner.