I am soaked too deep into my affair with the hills. Every time I embark on the road to a wonderfully secluded hilltop, the fragrant breeze, those scattered tiny huts and simplicity of the Pahardi people bring a smile to my face unconsciously. I let my hair play with the flirtatious wind, while setting my eyes on the overlooking valleys on my way.
Travelling on the curvaceous road, up on the hills with hanging clouds over my head was like romancing with nature. I decided to chase the monsoon this summer and headed towards the magnificently beautiful hill station called Binsar, Uttarakand.
Nestled on top of Jhandi Dhar hills, Binsar is encircled by the wildlife sanctuary and forest area. Around 95 km from Nainital, Binsar is perched at an altitude of 2,420 meters, with a panoramic view of the great Himalayan range. One of the most picturesque destinations in Kumaon, Binsar is a sleepy little hamlet, ensconced by quaint valleys and breathtaking mountains. The earthy smell of the place was enticing. Almost 6 hour drive on those twisted Kumaon hills, with incessant rain all along, I reached Club Mahindra Binsar Valley Resort at 4 p.m. Tired and exhausted, a hot cup of tea was the need of the hour. But the moment I stepped in the balcony of my room and languidly settled myself in the chair with a cup of tea, the jaw dropping view of floating clouds over the valley just whisked away all my tiredness. I felt as if time had frozen for me. And I patiently waited to be a part of the transition.
The Club Mahindra Binsar Valley is a luxury resort in the valley of Binsar. Perfectly laid out over a hilltop, overlooking the valley, the view from the resort is to die for.
The scenic surrounding, easy accessibility and high standard hospitality makes it one of the most desired resorts in Binsar.
Equipped with all kinds of luxuries, the resort also houses an activity zone where you can try your adventurous ambitions as well. With splendid surroundings, the resort boosts the greenery everywhere. From colourful gardens, green vegetation to a multi cuisine restaurant, the resort is like a tiny village in itself. Rather a luxurious one.
I have been a foodie all my life. Sampling different cuisines give me a high during my travels. But the joy of sampling the local cuisine is indefinable. In all my travels to remote corners, I love sampling the local flavours. This time also was no exception. The famous local Kumaoni Thali was presented to me on the dinner table.
The scrumptious Thali had everything from Black turtle beans (भट्टकी दाल), Spinach (पलक का कापा), Potato stir fry(आलू के गुटके), Green pumpkin (भांगवाला कद्दू), to Cucumber Raita (खीरे का रायेता) and each one of those items had distinctive flavours and a delectable taste. What could be a better way to end your long day, when you have the perfect meal with like-minded people on a rainy day over some interesting conversations?
It was 6 AM . The sound of raindrop became louder as I opened my eyes. I stood still in front of my window to see the blissful morning . I had not imagined that the hills could look so pretty until I decided to chase the rain.
Since the Sun refused to show up in the morning, I had to cancel my plan to go to the Sunrise point. Instead, I opted to spend a few hours by admiring the floating clouds above my head.
When I trekked 4 km on a rainy day
Being a little adventurous soul, trying something beyond regular, tempts me all the time. When I was told that we will be trekking Binsar Valley in spite of the rain, it certainly did excite me. With colourful umbrellas, I with my other fellow travellers started walking down the twisted trail on a rainy day. As we started walking towards the valley, the local from the resort escorted us throughout the trek, explaining almost every possible tree on our way.
Though it was hard remembering the names of the trees, I enjoyed his small talks. It was slippery and wet. Carrying an umbrella, with my camera and watching the steps at the same time was like a task.
But they say that if you have good company, you actually don’t realize the distance. And I did not realize when I reached the bank of the Binsar River, taking the descending road.
The valley looked absolutely gorgeous, covered by the well sculpted step farming all around. It looked like a green carpet, well spread across the miles.
Night Camping, Bonfire & A never ending conversation
How about camping in the forest at night? The bonfire, a bunch of fellow travellers, their adventurous tales with your favourite wine, surely sounds like a tale from a storybook. If I tell you that I had experienced all of these. I raised a toast to not so clear sky and settled comfortably inside the tent to become an ardent listener of travel tales from fellow travellers.
In the darkness, the only source of light was the bonfire in front of our tent. We talked about our respective adventurous stories; some of which were interesting, though some were scary encounters. The never ending conversations, delicious food and deep dark forest added to a much needed charm in the night. I did not realize when the time had just slipped through my fingers. I could not help but thank God quietly for those unforgettable moments. I could have never asked for a better ending to my beautiful day.
Temple Hopping in Almora
It was still cloudy the next morning. As scheduled, we started driving through the Deodar forest of Binsar towards Almora. The blinding mist accompanied us throughout, along with the incredibly beautiful landscapes. Almora is a district in Uttarakhand, which flaunts stunning landscapes and numerous religious sites in the layers of hills. Among them, Jageshwar temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions.
The temple was constructed between 9th to 13th century, though the exact date is still not known. The temple complex houses 125 temples and 12 Jyotirlingas. This is one of the oldest Shiv temples in India.
As the Sun perched on the layers of the hills, the valleys started shinning from the rain shower. I could not hold my unfathomable excitement seeing the sun rays after two continuous days of rain. The sun-kissed day made everything look so bright. And I was a happy travelling girl again. On our way back, we stopped at Chitai Golu Devta Temple in Almora. This is one of the most sacred places in Almora, where it is believed that every wish of the devotee comes true. This temple is dedicated to Gollu Devta,who is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
This temple is also known as Bell temple in the region. I was surprised to see thousands of bells in the temple premise. It is believed that God, in propitiation for your evil deeds, asks the devotees to tie a bell in the temple periphery. According to the local belief, you can write your wish on a white paper and pin it on the temple along with the bell, which comes true in reality.
Dancing in a Baraat in day light
This has to be the most thrilling experience of my trip to Binsar. It was wide daylight when we encountered a newly married bride and groom with the Baraat at the Bell temple. It was fine till the time we stepped out of the temple. The pretty bride and those charming women with their traditional kumaoni attire drew my attention.
While capturing a few moments into my lens, I did not realise when I had joined the Baraat for dancing on the road. It was an absolute fun doing this abrupt dancing with my fellow travellers. The best part was when we were asked to dance in the Baraat by the groom himself. It was a crazy laugh ride that day. And I could not stop myself from clicking a selfie with the bride. This was one of the most random fun activities I have ever had during my travels, which will remain fresh for a long period.
Dinner under the sky
I like those romantic dinners under the stars, where you are served the best barbecued dishes, red wine and the glimmering candle lights complimenting the aura of the place. Sounds perfect right? Well, the table was set under the sky.
The barbecue set up was just perfect.A great meal with barbecued dishes, holding my wine glass under the star studded sky was the perfect ending to my three day trip in Binsar.
Some experiences refuse to fade away even after you come back to your own world. The fading shades of colours, the sky turning orange, the smoke from the hut, scintillating lights in distant valleys, the aura of silence at night and the joy of admiring nature can’t be expressed in words. My chasing the monsoon affair in the long and winding roads of the Kumaon hills was one of them.
Note : My Trip to Binsar was sponsored by Club Mahindra
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