October 2008
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Binsar: A wonderful mountain sanctuary in Uttarakhand, India

Altitude : 2412 m above sea level.
Rainfall: 85 cm average.
Summer: Max. 29.4°C Min. 9°C,
Winter: Max.4.4°C Min. 2°C
Clothing: Summer: Cottons/Light Woollen, Winter: Heavy Woollens.
Location : 35 kms from Almora, Uttaranchal

Binsar Sanctuary:
Best Time to Visit : February to April, October to November.
Timings : The Sanctuary opens early in the morning and closes late in the evening.
Entry Fee : Rs. 40 for Indians, Rs.100 for foreigners.
Guide Fee : Rs.125 for 2 hrs, Rs.250 for half-day, Rs. 500 for full day.
Vehicle Entry : Heavy Vehicle – Rs 250, Medium Vehicle – Rs 100, Small Vehicle – Rs 50.
Major Attractions : Leopards, Ghorals, Indian Red Fox, Jackals, Porcupines, Pine Martens etc.

Map to Binsar (Google Maps)

View Larger Map

Binsar, a beautiful green place designated as a wildlife sanctuary, was once the summer capital of the Chand Rajas (7th to 8th centuries). In olden days, the devout came to pray at the Temple of Bineshwar (an aspect of Shiva) built of by Raja Kalyan Chand. Binsar is located at a distance of 34 km from Almora. Binsar is famous for being one of the most scenic spots in the Kumaon Himalayas and a well known hill resort. The chief attraction is the panoramic view of the Himalayas -a 300-km stretch of famous peaks which includes Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli.
Binsar hills known as Jhandi Dhar, rising to a height of 2412 m, offer an excellent view of Almora town, Kumaon Hills and the greater Himalayas. Inside Binsar town, a walk through dense oak and rhododendron forest leads to a vantage point at the summit, which affords a beautiful view of the Himalayan range and the surrounding valley. The forests of Himalayan oak and rhododendron are excellent for trekking. Binsar is actually also famous for being situated in the midst of a forest reserve known as the ‘Binsar Reserve’ which has been declared as a wildlife sanctuary.
And how is Binsar different from other hill stations such as Shimla, Mussoorie, Manali etc., one reason is that Binsar is not yet fully commercialized, and as a result, you get to feel more of the bounties of natures such as thickly wooded forest with loads of greenery, and the wonderful mountain air to soothe your eyes, body and soul is the best place to go. It is indeed very, very green and at 2100-2400m height is cool enough to keep you fresh all day.

What are the things to do in Binsar ?

The best thing to do here is to walk or relax and soak in the sight of beautiful forest, scented air and green valleys. The walk to the summit is very enthralling, worth every calorie spent and the view from the watch tower at the top is breathtaking. In clear weather, the snow capped peaks are very clearly visible. Do not forget to carry your raincoats/ umbrellas and also your binoculars if you enjoy birdwatching.

Jungle Walk : Jungle walk is the only way available to explore the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Drives : Inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary the only drive possible is from the main gate to the Forest Rest House. But you can also drive outside on the eastern fringes of the sanctuary, from the main entrance towards Gairad Bend and also to Paleo Bend and backtrack to the gate.

Places to see around Binsar :

Almora: (34 kms.) The district head quarter of Almora has still maintained its old traditional character that can be felt in the tiled roofed houses and paved streets. Places of tourist interest here are Chitai Temple, Kasar Devi, Deer Park, Nanda Devi temple & Ram Krishna Mission Ashram.

Jalna: (59 kms.) At a height of above 5500 feet, Jalna gives a great view, a wide panoramic view of the Himalayas. A number of orchards produce a variety of fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears, plums and apples. Nearby is the temple of Kutumbari Devi & Banari Devi considered to have been constructed in the 9th century A.D.

Katarmal: (51 kms.) Katarmal is a must for history lovers. It houses the famous Sun temple built by the Katyuri rajas some 800 and 900 years ago, atop a steep hill.

Jageshwar: The temple town, housing one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, stands on the Almora – Pithoragarh road, in the beautiful Jataganga valley. The grand temple complex, consisting of 124 temples, is famous not only for its exquisite craftsmanship but also for its pristine beauty due to its proximity to the forests of thick Deodar.

Bineshwar Temple : Built in the 16th century, this is a Shiva shrine from which Binsar derives its name. Bineshwar Temple is situated 6 kms away from Ayarpani and can be visited while driving up to the wildlife sanctuary. This temple was constructed by the Chand Rajas, who had once their summer capital at Binsar.

Golu Devta Temple : Just 4 kms away from Binsar, this temple is dedicated to the popular deity of Kumaon. Like the devotees visiting here to fulfil their wishes, you can also hand a bell to make a wish or as thanks for one that comes true.

Kasar Devi Temple : Situated at a distance of 9 kms from Binsar, this spot was occupied by a Dutch monk in the 1970s and 80s, setting off a ‘Hippie’ boom in the area around. While those ‘Hippies’ are no more but it still remains a popular handout for foreigners. The Kasar Devi Temple attracts large number of people from far and near.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar : Patal Bhuvaneshwar looks over steep green valleys to the Himalayan foothills, beyond which lies the glorious view of the snow-capped mountains. This underground cave complex is over 6000 years old.

Getting there :

By Air : Nearest airport is Pantnagar, 157 km
By Train: Nearest railhead is Kathgodam, 120 km. From there take a taxi.
By Road : Binsar is well connected by roads, to all prominent towns- Almora (34 km.), Nainital (120 km.) & Delhi (418 km.)
Binsar is about 400 kms from Delhi via Moradabad, Rampur, Udham Singh Nagar, Haldwani, Bhowali, Garampani and Almora. It is 25 kms from Almora on the Bagheshwar Road and 2 kms after Kaparkhan Village. From Almora, there are two roads to approach it. One is the main Bagheshwar Road and the second one goes past the Kasar Devi temple. This road is much more picturesque and is recommended.

Places to stay:
KVM tourist hotel (Site)
Mountain Resort Khali Estate (Site) (Inside Binsar Sanctuary)
Club Mahindra Valley Resort (link)
Kasaar Jungle Resort: Spread over 4 acres of land next to Kasaar Devi temple
Binsar Retreat (Inside Binsar Sanctuary)
Kims Guest House
Binsar Eco Camp
Village Homestays (Inside Binsar Sanctuary)
Kalmatia Sangam Himalaya Resort: Perched on a hill just above Almora near Binsar

Other articles:
1. Binsar Trek (link): A 4 day trekking trip (4 days to and from Delhi)
2. Binsar-Rishikesh trek (link)
3. Review of Binsar at Ghumakkar.com (link)
4. 4 day Binsar trek (link)
5. Photos from Club Mahindra Blog (link)

Photos of Binsar from Flickr (Click on the links):
Binsar temple, View of mountains from Binsar, Sunrise and moon in Binsar, Among tall trees, Binsar Mahadev temple, Binsar Temple Photo, Storm over mountains, Road in Binsar, KMVN, Binsar, Club Mahindra Binsar

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