Binsar Beckoning

Last Monday was a wet, wet day and luckily there was nothing much to do. So, I sat browsing through past chat history on WhatsApp and found what a friend had said, “There are many places that I want to visit, certain places….Places, I want to go to which I have read about and want to be part of, to feel them. There are places in Himalayas, Greece, Spain, France, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Italy.” What a lovely thought! And my wandering mind wondered if there’s any place I really, really want to go? I sat and thought and realised that there’s this little place in the Himalayas which I want to go back to. A place which I’d promised myself to return to someday.
I’m talking about Binsar, a small sleepy town in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand at an elevation of 2420 meters. Why I want to go there cannot be answered now but I can definitely tell you about when I went there. It was in October, 1995 when I was doing my B.Ed. from Delhi University. A ten-day excursion of the Kumaon region was planned by the department during the autumn break and Binsar was our first stop. We started from Delhi around 10 and reached Almora early in the morning. From there we started for Binsar, which was a good 3-hour drive by bus. The last lap of about 11 km was very steep with deep valleys on one side and high mountains on the other. The journey was very frightful and we were scared to death when once the driver lost slight control of the bus and it went backwards towards the deep. By the time we reached it was around four but appeared to be much late as it was already getting dark.
We had our reservations in the Binsar Jungle Resort amidst the forest reserve and were informed that there would be no electricity and we had to spend the night in the dark. But it didn’t dampen our spirits since the scenic views and the captivating beauty of the place more than made up for it. We looked forward to a campfire on the full moonlit night but were told that we could not light a fire, it being a protected area. So, we had to make do with a camp candle and the manager regaled us with the information about the region, ghost stories and also how bears prowled in the surroundings and knocked on the hotel rooms for food. He also warned us to not to open the doors if anyone knocked without ensuring the identity of the visitor. It was decided by the faculty that we all should start around 4:00 am so as to be able to track the 4-5 km uphill to view the sunrise. The password, ‘Bhaloo Aaya’ (a bear comes) was promptly decided upon and we all retired to our rooms post dinner.
There were six of us in one room and since it was a full moon night and no electricity, we decided to draw the curtains to let a little light come in. Tired from the previous night’s travel, the day’s frightful drive and eager to see the sunrise we all fell asleep almost immediately. Sometime late into the night one of us heard a knocking on the window. Then there was some scratching and we all woke up almost at the same time. Still delirious, we were startled to see a huge bear trying to pry open the window to gain entry into our room. Scared, we all huddled together and waited with bated breath for the bear to go away. It tried unsuccessfully for quite some time and then went away. In a short while there was a knock at our door. We all jumped out of the bed, scared to death. There was a knock again. One of us gathered courage and asked who was at the door? There was no answer and another knock. We again asked who it was a little loudly. A woman’s muffled voice asked us to open the door. We asked her for the password. There was no answer and she said, “I don’t remember the password but please open the door.” We were dead sure that it was a bear and just wouldn’t budge from our place. Little did we realise that a bear couldn’t speak to us. After some communication, back and forth, we realised that it was our teacher for sure. Poor lady had got herself locked out of her room. She had come out to wake us up but feeling the chill, immediately tried to go back to get something warm. As she realised that she was locked out, she knocked the next room which happened to be ours. And in the ensuing conundrum forgot the password. 
This is one Binsar story which I can never forget. Later, we all got ready for the sunrise and the breathtaking views left us spell bound. Post brunch we were to depart for our next destination but we didn’t have the heart to travel by bus due to the misadventure of the previous day. So, we all decided to walk the 11km and send our luggage by bus. We all started walking downhill and energised by all the adventures started to follow the slopes instead of the road. We slid on the slopes, and started taking shortcuts in a bid to reach before others. But as luck would have it we happened to get down further away from the meeting point and had to climb up almost 2 more kilometres.
This was my adventure at Binsar. 
The fresh air, lush greenery, wild flowers, the purity and the serenity of the place and definitely the adventures made the place feel very special and made me want to return back with someone special in life.
Will I ever go back to Binsar again and whether I’ll have someone special by my side is questionable. Someone told me to enjoy the journey of life as it is a journey not a destination. I have set out on this journey and look forward to sharing all the adventures that come my way with you

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice experience. Even I would like to go to Binsar someday and experience this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It would be great if we all could go together some day.

      Like

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