Binsar in Jhandi Dhar hills of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand is technically a wildlife sanctuary. In the good old days, it served as the summer capital of Chand kings who ruled the region from 11-18th CE. We had earlier showed you some of the artworks from the days of Chand Kinds that can be seen at Jageshwar.
Binsar is not too far from Almora but the gain in height is substantial so you need to go slow. In any case, once you are out of Almora, the scenery around you is so beautiful that you would stop often to soak in nature all around you. Tall pine trees create a lattice-like wall through which the sunrays try to pierce through.
Admiring this scenery, we overshot the Wildlife sanctuary exit and almost reached the next town. The drive is so beautiful that you do not mind getting lost a bit. After an hour or so, we reached the gate where you have to buy your permit to enter the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. We were instructed not to litter in the sanctuary.
We were booked at the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam’s guest house there, which is located almost at the summit of the hill.
As soon as we entered the wildlife sanctuary – we saw a Black Francolin bird dancing on the ground amidst tall trees. It was jumping around that drew all attention from everything. We drove for a good 45 minutes on steep inclines to reach the guest house. For the most part, the road was good but it seems the authorities forgot to do the last couple of kilometers.
Binsar Zero Point Hike
After checking in the KMVN guest house we stepped out to walk to Zero Point. All the reading I had done before traveling to Kumaon told me that this is a lovely hike. At the end of this, you reach a point where you get the best views of the Nanda Devi range of the Himalayas.
It is a mild 3 km or so walk with some ups and downs. The path is well laid out. A tea stall outside the KNVM guest house is where you can find forest guides. It is not mandatory to take the guide. However, we wanted to know more about the jungle and birds, so we hired a guide. It was a mistake – our guide Ji had no knowledge or any interest in showing us around. He came like a fellow hiker and at the destination he just wanted us to go back in 5 minutes. We had to let him go and walk back on our own. We could not spot more birds because of him and he could not tell us the name of even one.
The walk is lovely. You walk on a wide path that has a deep valley on one side and wild trees on another. It was the season of Rhododendrons, the path was littered with red bunches of flowers. We also saw lots of flowers in white.
However do not go there alone, have a small group at least. There are Monkeys and being a wildlife sanctuary you should take precautions.
Binsar Valley View from Zero Point
At Zero point summit, there is a viewing tower that lets you see the Himalayan ranges without any obstruction by trees. Now, you have to be lucky to have a crisp and clear day to get the view. In the evening we did see all the ranges but not very clearly.
However, you will get a nice view of the valley. The dense forest on the steep mountain, cultivated land in the valley, and beautiful landscape view are the highlights of the view from Zero Point.
At the base of the Zero Point, I could see the outline of a stepwell-like structure. It was filled with earth, so there was no way to know if it was indeed a stepwell or maybe it was a house that someone built. It was strange to find a constructed structure in the middle of such a deep jungle.
We could hear a lot of birds on our hike to Zero Point, we could spot some of them jumping around on trees. Due to bad light and due to the density of the forest it was difficult to take pictures. I think in the whole walk we managed to get just one decent image of one of the colorful birds.
We found more birds in and around the lakes of Kumaon like Bhimtal.
Read More – Birds of Kumaon
We did this trip towards the end of March. This is the time when red Rhododendrons are in full bloom. Trees are full of bunches of red flowers hanging from the branches. In places they make a carpet of flowers on the road – you are almost guilty about driving or walking over them. On some trees, it was difficult to guess if they had more leaves or more flowers! Is that not the perfect problem to have in life? At a lot of places, especially while hiking to Zero Point we were surrounded by red flowers all around.
It was like a dream sequence – a leisurely walk to see the Himalayan peaks surrounded by bright red flowers.
Binsar – Early morning Sunrise Splendour
It was the early morning that was the height of our trip. We woke up before the crack of dawn and parked ourselves on the terrace overlooking the mighty Himalayas. Other guests slowly started pouring in & within minutes the terrace was full of people.
The Sun’s rays slowly started shining on the peaks in front of us. The white snow suddenly had a golden glow. As the Sun’s rays move from east to west, the peaks started revealing themselves. It was a sight to behold. Everyone on the terrace was in a kind of trance looking at golden peaks. Suddenly the golden hour of photography made sense to me.
The spectacle lasted about 40 minutes or so, then we held the teacups in our hands and pondered over what we have just seen. It was just magical to see the Himalayan peaks responding so beautifully to sun rays.
Himalayan Peaks Visible from Binsar
The best of Binsar is the stunning landscape view of the Himalayas in the early mornings. The range of Himalayan Peaks visible from there covers over 200-300 KM,s. Following Himalayan peaks can be spotted from the viewpoints if the sky is clear and one has binoculars. There are posters identifying each of the following peaks displayed at the curio shop of KMVN guest house.
Nanda Devi Himalayan Peak
The Nanda Devi Himalayan Peak is the second highest mountain peak in India. Second only to the Kanchenjunga Peak at Sikkim Nepal border best viewed from Rinchenpong, Sikkim. Nanda Devi is the patron goddess of the region. The Nanda Devi mountain is east-west oriented and at an elevation of over 25,000 feet. It is also one of the steepest mountains at such an elevation. Read more on Nanda Devi at Wikipedia.
Other Himalayan Peaks viewable
- Nanda Gunti
- Trishul 1, 2, 3
- Nanda Devi
- Panvali Dwar
- Nanda Devi East or Sunanda Devi
- Nanda Khat
- Lapsa Dhura
- Ralam Pass
- Panchchuli group
- Karcha Kund
- Chaukhanba (Badrinath) – 4 peaks
- Pindari Glacier
Hotels & Resorts – KMVN Guest House Binsar
There are a lot of luxury and mid-range resorts and hotels at the base of Binsar hill. However, the best view of the Himalayan ranges is from the KMVN guest house. It is perched on the hilltop right in front of the snow-capped Nanda Devi Range of Himalayas.
It is a run-down property with basic rooms that are screaming for some maintenance. Since it is not connected with power, you get electricity only for a couple of hours in the evening. Hot water is provided in buckets in the morning. The dining hall is nice though with new furniture and tall windows that let you admire nature around.
Food was also nice – though you really do not have a choice, for there is nothing else that you would get there.
In the early morning, they make up for all the shortcomings when they serve you piping hot tea as you admire the sunrise over the Himalayas. It just makes the morning picture perfect as there is something in your hands to warm you.
There are no other entertainment activities besides a bit of exploring nature for the travelers & tourists. So you need not stay there beyond a day. However, if you are a researcher in the fields of flora, fauna, birds, Himalayas, and wildlife of the region, you may have reasons to stay longer.
- Although most cars would drive up to Binsar, it is advisable to go in a 4-wheel drive.
- Do not engage the guide for a walk to Zero Point. We had a bad experience. The guide took 300 Rs and told us nothing instead kept rushing us as he wanted to finish the trek in an hour.
- If you plan to stay at the KVMN guest house, do book in advance.
- If you are not comfortable walking to Zero Point, do not bother to walk. You will get the best view from the terrace.
- For those staying at other places, check with your resort for the best viewpoint near their property.
- Carry woolens for early morning, even if you are traveling in summer.
- Carry a binocular if you wish to get better views of the Himalayan Peaks.
- The best view of the Himalayan range is during the early morning around sunrise time. Later on, the clouds and humidity blur the views.
- Mobile signals are poor in the area, keep your near and dear informed as you leave Almora.
Recommend you read the following travel blog on Places to visit in Kumaon, Uttarakhand.
Bhimtal, Sattal & Naukuchiatal – Mystical Lakes of Kumaon Valley
I am yet to explore the Kumaon region.I know that the call will come sooner than later because the mountains and I, cannot live apart for too long.
Hope they call you soon Meenakshi. Kumaon Himalayas are lovely, especially from Binsar although I loved Mukteshwar and Jageshwar too.
Adding to my bucket list… Himalayas long pending destination… well covered and superb pics
The Himalayas are magnetic, Simi. Once you go there, they will keep calling you again and again. You just need to make an effort to go there once.
Binsar has been on the list for sometime. Your post has just reinforced the same . Informative as usual.
May you get to go there soon enough Samanvay & experience the magic of Himalayas.
I love visiting game reserves and national parks, so I really appreciate learning about Binsar wildlife sanctuary. It looks like a less-visited option to enjoy some natural landscapes and beautiful birdlife in the region. It’s a huge shame that you had such a poor experience with that guide – I hope you got your money back at least? For me, a knowledgeable local guide can really help you to spot the more illusive wildlife, and share stories about the animal and its habits. The views of the mountains are amazing, though the KVMN sounds a bit basic and run down, which is a big shame.
Kavita, KVNMN is run down and basic, but it is the best place to see the mountains, especially in the mornings. This guide was the worst I have ever had in my life. No, they never return the money and you can not really fight with locals in such secluded places.
Such a shame you couldn’t get a clearer view of the mountain, for all the work you went to to see them! But still very beautiful! And I felt terrible for you that your hired guide was of no use to you — afterwards, did you ever learn of a reputable guide you could recommend? And yet…what an amazing adventure!
Tami, Himalayas are amazing even if you get just a fleeting glimpse of them. I have no regrets & we enjoyed the trip thoroughly. I shared the guide story so that future travelers can be careful of this and ask the guides some questions before hiring them.
The Himalayas are magnetic, I would go back any day.
How gutting to have had a guide who was clearly so useless. I suspect I would have been complaining!! Neverthless you saw some amazing views. Those mountains are to die for.
Walking along the Binsar Sanctuary would look like something from the move Into The Wilds. It sure is one of a kind with so many peaks available for viewing. What’s your faavorite peak?
Tala, for us all these peaks are sacred, We worship them. Each of them has a name – see the lost I have provided above. It is lovely jungle out there with peaks their highpoint.
Oh the Himalayas. It seems to me, reading traveler’s accounts on blogs, that there’s always more to discover. Not to mention, the fact that these mountains are objects of worship. It makes me feel small and humble (in a good way). Thank you!
Oh yes, Peter – Mountains tell you that you are one of the million living species, too small in front of them – they put you in place in your own head. No wonder they prescribed pilgrimage to mountains on regular basis in good old days.
Beautiful scenery – I can definitely understand nearly having overshot the exit by being transfixed by the view! Binsar sounds wonderful – we’re big wildlife enthusiasts, and my husband loves birding, so this would be a treat.
The view of the Himalayan ranges from Zero point summit would be amazing if you had a clear day – love how the Rhododendrons give the region color.
You got some wonderful sunrise shots – and what an opportunity to see the Nanda Devi Himalayan Peak. Thanks for the tips, we are going to try and visit too 🙂
Megan, that makes two of us. My husband is totally into birding. Do let me know as and when you are in India – will point you to good birding places. The Himalayas are always a humbling experience.
Don’t have any destinations in mind, just close your eyes and go to Himalaya’s, they will never disappoint you, very well written, thanks for sharing.
Well said, Vijay. The Himalayas are always a pilgrimage to take. They will let you look inwards with their giant peaks.
“Best of Binsar is the stunning landscape view of the Himalayas in the early mornings.” I’d have to agree. It is also a good tip re: guides. There are guides everywhere that just try to rip you off.
I agree, guides try to rip you off, but this one had nothing to contribute.
The pic of the Nanda Devi Himalayan Peak looks amazing. I’d love to climb there some day, it might be sneaking onto my bucket list. The Trek in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary also looks tempting, with the winding and binding looking trees.
Tom, Nanda Devi peak is one of the most difficult ones to climb. I read a book by someone who trekked to it & it seems very few people have managed to climb it. Binsar is a cake walk, anyone with decent fitness level can climb it.
I am so amazed with the geographic diversity in India! Every time I see a post it exposes yet another region that is at least as beautiful ad the previous one. It gives me the chills just thinking we can see the Himalaya peaks from Binsar. All i’m thinking is i neex to go there!
James, As an Indian who has lived in 10 different states of India, I always say – India never ceases to amaze me. It has not just diversity, but it has so many layers of history & spirituality that you need many lifetimes to even get to know them. You must come to see the Himalayas.
For me, the name Kumaon always evokes images of, ” The Man-eaters of Kumaon”. But seriously Binsar is nothing short of a revelation. The views of the Himalayan peaks seem magical and I am sure the atmosphere gets surcharged with serenity during sunrise when the first rays of the sun touch the mountains. The Zero point hike is something we would love to do, Indeed a pity that the Guide was not at all true to his calling.
Unfortunately, there are hardly any man waters left in this region, apart from some found in lower Kumaon around Jim Corbett National Park. Binsar along with Jageshwar was a discovery for us too.
Himalayas looks a dreamy destination. Can’t believe we can see such geological difference in India. This place is great for hikers and the travelers who love to wander through mountains wants afresh air. Great article Anuradha. Keep these dreamy places coming.
Binsar seems like an awesome hiking destination, Anuradha. Thanks for the great post and the recommendation. When is the best time of the year to explore this place?
Agness, you can visit Binsar all year round, but it is more pleasant in summers.
Nanda Devi Himalayan peak view from Binsar is looks amazing. All of the pics in this post are just awesome .
Glad you enjoyed the views of Nanda Devi on IndiTales.
Hi Anuradha Mam, I am from Uttarakhand and I visited your blog for the first time. The way you have described the beauty of Kumaon, I have become a fan of your blog. Binsar is one of the beautiful places in Almora. You are doing a great job by exploring these beautiful places. There are hundreds of more places in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand which people have not seen yet. I started writing for some travel blogs inspired by bloggers like you. I have bookmarked your blog and will keep visiting further.
Thank you Gaurav. You can write for IndiTales too. Check out our Internship program.