#Previous. Binsar is a little-known summer retreat of the rulers of the Chand dynasty, an exceedingly beautiful place tucked away in the Kumaon hills. It is one of the few retreats on the hillside that tourists visit when they land up in Almora or Kathgodam. You can find many tourist resorts and tour operators on the hills around Binsar. If you go unprepared the cab drivers may charge you a bomb, but if you can find a sunny morning and see the Himalayan peaks you will still find it worth while.
Almora is the closest town to Binsar. It is not on the tourist circuit, despite the beautiful hills around it. This because it is still that sleepy and creaking old town. It has refused to get its act together for the new age tourists. The Pahadis of Almora like it that way. They are reluctant to change. Some of my friends who belong to Almora clearly say that they do not want to lose their peace to the drones of tourist cars. But Binsar has tourist accommodations all tucked in the hills some facing the Nanda Devi and some overlooking the deep green gorges below.
Driving down by car to Binsar is the best
It is a 10 hour drive by road from Delhi. You go north east on the NH 24 to Rampur after which you take the NH87 to Kathgodam. From there you take the state highway and drive uphill via Almora and Kaparkhan. Alternative is to go by overnight train to Kathgodam by Ranikhet express and contact a tour operator to take care of your travel and stay needs thereafter. You can also hire Sumos and Toyotas on a kilometer fare basis from Kathgodam.
Binsar is colder than you think.
Located 7900 feet above sea level, Binsar is colder than you think. So pack your woolies because it gets seriously cold by night up in the hills. Besides high winds from the Himalayas knocking at your window sills with gusts of rain fall during monsoon can make it spine chilling.
Mountain peaks to spot at Binsar
You can spot many peaks from Binsar and the surrounding hillside. There is the holy peaks of Kedarnath and Badrinath that are famous pilgrimage destinations. Then there is the Gangotri that is supposed to be the origin of the river Ganga and the Trishul, Shivling and the Chaukhamba peaks. All these peaks are higher than twenty thousand feet and have snow tops nearly all around the year. You can see them clearly on a cloudless day.
Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi
But none of them are as majestic as the Nanda Devi range that is only second to the Mount Everest in stature of the Himalayan peaks. The 25,643 feet high peak is the second highest in India and the Nanda Devi summit is surrounded by a range of glorious Himalayan peaks that includes the twin peak Sunanda Devi. This two peaks are ring fenced with other snow clad mountains, breath taking in beauty. At the slopes of these snow clad mountains of Uttarakhand is the high altitude Nanda Devi sanctuary a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Nanda Devi temple
Every September the Pahadis come down from the hills to the beats of drums to the goddess Nanda Devi temple at Almora The Nanda Devi meal is just as colorful and full of pageantry as its more illustrious Kulu Dashera Festival of Himachal. The hill people descend to the town for 5 days. You can watch a riot of colours and singing and dancing as the hill people pay their respects to lord Nanda Devi and do their pre-winter shopping. The custom has been going on since the 16 th century, and was encouraged by the Raja Kalyan a ruler of the Chand dynasty whose ancestor built the Nanda Devi temple around 100 years ago.