Ok guys, this is for the first time I am going to write and share my experience but here is a small warming – I don’t have a way with words. So please bear with me.
I ( or I should rather say “We” as my wife often corrects me. So let’s start again).
Both me and my wife are real travel freaks and we usually start planning our next holiday destination the moment we are back from our first one! So after a round of discussions and Internet searches, we zeroed in on to Binsar forest reserve and nearby places in Uttranchal. Basically we wanted to relax and chill and explore the unexplored.
We never wanted to go to main tourist places like Nainitaal and other taals nearby. Our idea of perfect holiday is going to a bit more relaxed non-commercial areas to sit back and take a break from our daily office routine. Planning not only includes the destinations but also how to reach them so after lots of speculations and thoughts, we decided embark upon our journey in second week of September as by then monsoon is generally over. But God wanted us to enjoy the showers for some more time and broke all previous six year’s records during this time. And there we were..headed for our monsoon trip!
We left Gurgaon at 04:30 AM from outer ring road to Akshardhaam by our car. We took Muradabaad highway via Gharmuteshwar and Hapur. After taking Muradabaad bypaas instead of going to Rampur, I took a U turn and took Jim Corbett road.
That’s where I made a small mistake as this route was guided by a colleague of mine not knowing that I have to go to Binsar forest reserve and not the Binsar temple which are two different places with same name BINSAR. But it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because what we experienced was just spell bounding. People who love thrill while driving, will go berserk on this route. Due to continuous rains, we experienced many waterfalls enroute and roads which were repaired after landslides.
My biggest fantasy was to drive over a road with water flowing on it and it turned true on the route from Muradabad by pass is: Kashipur-Jim Corbett and then Binsar (temple).
So when we reached Binsar at 01:15 pm and inquired about Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigan (KMVN) guest house. That is when we realized it was not the Binsar forest reserve but the Binsar temple. The same names created the confusion.
To reach the forest reserve, we had to go to Ranikhet and Almora bypass by driving for another 60 kms. One more clause was that we had to enter the forest reserve area by 6 pm after which we wont be allowed to enter as it is another 10 kms drive from there in the forest area, which is not only hilly but sans any street lights.
However we managed to reach at Binsar forest reserve after crossing beautiful landscape of Ranikhet at sharp 6pm i.e a drive for thirteen and a half hour. Usually it won’t take that long if one doesn’t get confused like we did. But folks, no regrets! We admired Mother Nature and had the most beautiful drive ever by clicking pictures en-route. Binsar forest reserve doesn’t give you much choice on places to stay and one of it is has Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam rest house that can be booked online.
Location– Binsar Forest reserve (Almora district)
How to Reach–
By Car – kathgodam- Bhimtaal- Almora bypass-Binsar
Nearest Railway Station– Kathgodaam. Taxis are easily available at Kthgodaam station.
What to see– It has a beautiful forest reserve and bird sanctuary which boasts of a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Himalayan peaks like Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Panchchuli and Nanda Kot.
What to do– Trek in forest, small trek at Zero point, enjoy the beauty of Himalayan peaks and most importantly RELAX.
Places to stay– Kumaon Vikas mandal nigam guest house, Khali Estate, Club Mahindra are few.
You will find many resorts there but I strongly recommend KMVN. This has the best location so far and a mesmerizing view of Himlayan peaks. Even Club Mahindra is not located at the Binsar forest reserve and one has to go about 11 kms ahead the check post located 10 kms below the KMVN. Advised to go in off season especially as you will find best of their hospitality. Very caring and simple people. Food is great but non vegetarians may find it tough as they serve only vegetarian food, though eggs are there. Morning breakfast and dinner is included in the package. Also people expecting luxury- Dats not the place for you as one can find luxury in any good hotel anywhere. Ask me I can tell u good luxury hotels at least in Delhi/NCR. So if you are in mother natures lap then enjoys the beauty of Kumaon and relax. No electricity after 9pm so no TV (I told u- no luxury) and no hot water in bathrooms too. They will provide one bucket of hot water each in morning.
Enjoy the stay..
So after spending 2 days at Binsar we planned to go to Jageshwar. Again a wonderful drive with great roads.
Jageshwar again lies in Almora district and is about 36 kms from Almora. A Hindu pilgrimage town with one big temple comprises about 128 different small temples. Beautifully built years also and is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Many temples include Mahamitrunjay temple, Kedaarnath temple, Hanuman ji temple and many more. Architecture is marvelous and you can spend some time there running away from priests as they going to bug you up especially if you are going there in off season. Jageswar again is a small beautiful valley and you can simple relax there and have a walk at the most. There is an Archaeological Museum there with sculptures from 09th century to 13t century. I loved watching these sculptures especially of Surya dev as he wore shoes and none other God wore in those sculptures. The reason: He feels damn hot because of sunrays. Yes that’s what I was told. There is another small temple which is about 10 kms from Jageshwar and that is called Vridh Jageshwar. Again a beautiful drive and temple is situated at the top of the mountain. Must visit especially people who love to drive.
You won’t find many good options to stay but again KMVN made a great stay for us. One I saw the property I told my wife that I want to stay here only and yes it has electricity and TV unlike Binsar. You can have a good view of temple and the town from their newly built rooms.
As we were heading towards Jageeswar from Binsar via Almora bypass we saw this beautiful temple of Chaitai Golu Devta. Hundreds of bells of different sizes hanging around all the temple makes you feel divine and in out of this place. You can also read peoples prayers written on a paper and attached with a bell. They say God listens to the genuine prayers and complete their devotee wishes. I simply love this believe as I myself is a God fearing person. In the region you will also see lot of cabs on which it’s written “Jai Golu Dev”. A must see place on a way. One can also have a break in their journey.
So after Jageshwar we had to head towards Kasauni. A long beautiful drive (in rain, not to forget) and we reached Kasauni. Personally I didn’t find it that good, just a simple hill station and moreover we could not see the Himalayan Range from there as it was raining heavily the whole day and clouds never cleared my view. Maybe raining whole day was one of the reason I cud not enjoy Kasauni and yes I was not interested in visiting Gandhi ashram. The only good thing in Kasauni was the dinner at Garden restaurant. Must try once, I loved the Chinese food there. The only place that was open late at night as each and every restaurant and dhabha was closed after 7pm in non season days.
After a not so exciting stay in Kasauni, it was time to move ahead. And out last planned stop was Nainitaal. My wife like this place and wanted to go there as she wanted to enjoy walking on the road with the lake and for sure boating with our sweet lil daughter.
But destiny was something else…
We found a major landslide after crossing Almora bypass and came to know that the route won’t open till evening. So what was next??
Mukteshwar… Yes, few kms back and there was a short route which went straight to Mukteshwar. And this was from the forest reserve again. After going few kilometers and crossing few villages the forest land started and this was a dense one with narrow road. While driving there was only one thing I was thinking. What if my car broke down? No mechanic nothing. And what if there was a landslide? There was a stretch of few kms where one can’t even turn the car back. But finally I reached Mukteshwar which is a very small cute town. Best place to stay again is KMVN guest house where one can see the Himalayan range too. But thanks to monsoon, I was not able to see it from there. We visited the Mukteshwar temple in the morning and for sure I am going to visit this place again. Maybe on my Bike. One can rest and be at peace here. Good for small walks also.