Savour the sights and sounds of
Almora and Binsar, and come back rejuvenated.
Almora and Binsar in Uttarakhand make for endearing vacation spots. Savour the sights and countryside sounds in the cantonment town of Almora, complemented by the tranquility of Binsar. Situated on a ridge, Almora is off the run-of-the-mill tourist track, harbouring vistas that captivate. Not far ahead is Binsar, known for its wildlife biodiversity. The abundant and untouched flora and fauna lure nature and wilderness lovers in their dominion, leaving them with just one wish, to visit again. Weekend getaway or much needed solace in the hills, here’s how you can experience the two neighbouring destinations in just 48 hours.
Familiarise yourself with the temple town of Almora. Visit the prime attraction Kasar Devi Temple dating back to the 2nd Century CE. The place gained prominence as Swami Vivekananda meditated here in 1890s. The massive geomagnetic field around the temple is said to aid better spiritual experiences, with even NASA stepping in and doing research on it of late!
Drop in at the nearby Crank’s Ridge, which shot to fame during the Hippie movement of the 1960s. It continues to be frequented by trekkers and tourists, and is also known as the Hippie Hill as it was once the hub of art, mysticism, and the hippie subculture. Both Crank’s Ridge and Kasar Devi temple also offer majestic views of the pine forests which encase them on all sides.
After an early lunch, proceed to Gobind Ballabh Pant Public Museum, which houses a unique collection of antiques belonging to the erstwhile rulers of Almora —
Katyuri and Chand dynasties. Here you’ll come across Aipan, the traditional Kumaoni style paintings, musical instruments, terracotta sculptures, and bronze items. The museum can be accessed between 10:30 am and 4:30 pm, except on all Sundays and Mondays that fall after second Saturday of the month.
Afterwards, head to the 200-year-old market, Lal Bazar. Shop for woollens and such sweets as Bal Mithai here. In the middle of Lal Bazaar stands the Nanda Devi temple, dedicated to Nanda, the deity of Chand dynasty. The five-day Nanda Devi Fair is held here every September. The dance, drama, joy rides, and idol processions during the fest attract a lot of visitors to Almora. If you desire to take the offbeat path, Tamta Mohalla near Thana Bazaar warrants a visit. ‘Tamta’ means copper in the local language, and it is here that one can visit copper-ware artisans (a dying art) making traditional vessels, items of worship, et al. The Tamtas were originally coin makers of the Chand dynasty. Today, only five families remain in business. Head to your hotel and enjoy an early dinner in order to get up early for a spectacular sunrise.
Get up early to visit Bright End Corner, located 2 km from the main town towards the end of the ridge, to witness a breathtaking sunrise. The same place offers a splendid view of the sunset as well (tip for late risers!). Inform your hotel ahead, to pack breakfast, and enjoy the sight with a view.
Head to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary situated on the Almora-Jageshwar road, approximately 33 kilometres from Almora. One can enter the sanctuary between 6 am and 5 pm every day. Once purchased, the entry pass to the sanctuary is valid for three days, after which it needs to be renewed.
To explore the sanctuary that is spread across a relatively small area of 47 square kms, walk up till the Forest Rest House which provides stunning views of the entire area. The sanctuary has a recorded sighting of around 200 species of resident and migratory birds. Of course, the earlier you reach, you’re more likely to have a rendezvous with the birds. One can also spot leopards, wild boars, Indian red fox, Himalayan black bears, and jackals here. #DSSCTopTip: Book a guide at the Tourist Rest House or at the sanctuary gate a day in advance. Along with the abundance of nature and wildlife, you can also revel in the vistas lent by Kamet, Mana, Gauri Parbat, Hathi Parbat, Nanda Ghunti, Trishul, Maiktuli, Mrigthuni, Nanda Devi, Panvali Dwar, Machhapuchhare Nanda Devi East, and Nanda Khat — some of the mountain ranges visible from here on a clear day. While exploring the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Zero Point is a popular vantage point. If you’d like to stay amidst this earth’s bounty, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary provides accomodation too.
Late Afternoon Till Evening
Proceed to visit Bineshwar Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This 13th century temple was built by King Kalyan of the Chand Dynasty and is an oasis of tranquillity. Afterwards, head to Chitai Golu Devta temple. The temple is situated 4 km from the sanctuary, and is dedicated to the most celebrated mythological God of justice of the Kumaon region. End your day with a cup of strong tea or coffee at your hotel, followed by a hearty dinner.
In all likeliness, you will go back from Uttarakhand with yet another holiday planned in the state.