Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is a beautiful, quiet and wild Himalayan destination with rich natural surroundings among dense forest. Binsar is perched on top of the Jhandi Dhar hills. This place is situated 33 km north of the Almora town in the Uttarakhand state of India. From Binsar one can see the 300 km panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks like Kedarnath Peak, Shivling, Trisul and majestic Nanda Devi from a place called 'Zero Point'. Binsar was the summer capital of the Chand Kings, who ruled over Kumaon, from 11th to 18th centuries AD. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1988, for the conservation and protection of the shrinking broad leaf oak (Quercus) forests of the Central Himalayan region, and it inhabits 200 bird species. Binsar which was the former capital of the Chand Rajas of Kumaon, is now home for a pristine mid altitude wildlife sanctuary.
In the older days people came from far-flung villages, trekking on paths they themselves created to pay homage to Bineshwar Mahadev. Unlike Shimla, Nainital and Ranikhet - north Indian hill stations discovered and developed by the British, Almora is a truly Indian hill resort with its own unique flavor. Binsar Hills known and Jhandi Dhar, rise to a height of 2412 mts and offer an excellent view of Almora town, Kumaon hills and the greater Himalayan valley. The surroundings abound in alpine flora, ferns, hanging moss and species of wild flowers. The chief attraction of Binsar is the majestic view of the Himalayas - a 300 km, stretch on famous peaks which includes Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli. Binsar is the epitome of serenity and tranquillity with perched on top of a hill with a spectacular view of the snow capped peaks and the Almora valley. Surrounded by abundant garlands of alpine flora, ferns, hanging moss and many other species of wild flowers, tourist can feel close to heaven.
These includes leopard (Panthera Pardus), Nemorhaedus goral (goral), Chital (Axis axis) Musk deer, Serow (Capricornis sumatiensis), Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Sus scrofa, Black Bear, pine marten,Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Langur (Presbytis entellus), monkey (Macaca mulatta), Porcupine, Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista),Barking Deer(Muntiacus muntjak), amongst others. It has been declared an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International with over 200 species including Tits, Forktail, Nuthatches, Blackbirds, Parakeets, Laughingthrush, Magpies, Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelana), Monal, Koklas, eagles, Woodpeckers and a range of others. Binsar is also home to many reptiles and innumerable invertebrates including a wide range of Butterflies.
The place has Pine forest at the lower level and Oak and Rhododendron at the higher altitude. This place is abundant in alpine flora, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes, hanging mosses and many other species of wild flowers. Other main plants of this sanctuary are Kaphal (Myrica esculenta), Pinus roxburghii, Engelhardtia spiicata, Macaranga pustulata, Quercus gloca, Quercus incana, Quercus leucotricophora(Banjh), Quercus semicarpifolia, Quercus dilatata, Cedrus deodara, Alnus napalensis, Aesculus indica, Pinus wallichiana , Quercus lanuginosa and Quercus floribunda, etc.
The sanctuary has been declared an “Important Bird Area by Bird life International.” There are more than 200 bird species in the sanctuary, including Eurasian Jay, Forktail, Blackbirds, Laughing Thrush, Kalij Pheasant, Nuthatches, Parakeets and Monal.
Places Of Interest:
- Khali Estate: Binsar has been an acclaimed hill resort of India. Binser is the trekkers paradise. There is an estate near Binsar called Khali estate, it was once the home of Sir Henry Ramsay, who was the commissioner of Kumaun from 1856 to 1884 and popularly called by British authors as 'King of Kumaun'. He also built his bungalow at Binsar. Vijay Laxmi Pandit, the sister of Jawahar Lal Nehru, also lived here. Khali is also a place at Binsar where Jamna Lal Bajaj of Gandhi-Seva-Trust started 'Shailashram'.
- Mary Budden Estate: Nestled deep within the heavily wooded oak forests of the Binsar Wild life Sanctuary, Mary Budden Estate is located in a cozy corner of the Kumaon hills in the Himalayas, at 8000 feet. Guests can be assured a unique experience at the estate, being that it is one of only five homes in all of Binsar. Over five serene acres, Mary Budden Estate houses two large luxury cottages and a Shiva temple. Mary Budden Cottage, at a 150 years old, has been fully restored by the owners, preserving the essence of its colonial past; and Rhododendron Cottage, built by the owners in recent times, is in keeping with the old colonial style. Mary Budden Estate, ranked as one of North India's top eco-hotels harvests rainwater and is fully powered by solar energy. Guest can also enjoy fresh organic produce from the gardens.
- Binsar Mahadev: There are two Binsar in Almora district. The Binsar wildlife sanctuary as shown by Wikipedia is not this Binsar Mahadev. It seems that they misunderstood it with the Binsar which is near to Almora city. This Binsar is around 20 km from Ranikhet situated in the valley and nearly 70 km away from Almora city. It is located in a jungle and famous for temple of Lord Shiva. Recently a statue of Lard Krishna and Arjun has been built there. Every year in June "Yagya" is organised in which thousand of devotees from far and wide visit there. There is no facility of hotel and market as such. Nearest tourist place is Ranikhet which is famous for its location. Hotels and other facility are available there.
- Archaeological Spots: The Binsar hills are rich in ancient relics. Near Dinapani on the Almora-Binsar road, there is a point called Pariyadeva-Pashan where there is a long stone with cup-marks. According to Historians these cup Shaped marks belong to Megalithic Age.
- Binsar Sanctuary Museum: Binsar has a museum about the flora and fauna of the region and provide good and valuable information about the Sanctuary.
- Kasar Devi Temple: Kasar Devi Temple is located at a distance of around 9 km from Binsar, it was the house for Dutch Monk from 1970 to early 80s. It is said that this temple was the house for the hippies and hippie culture got popular from here. This temple is still a major tourist attraction for the foreigners. It gained recognition in 1820 when Swami Vivekananda meditated here.
- Bineshwar Mahadev Temple: This temple is one of the holy destinations for Hindus. It is a beautiful place to visit. Binsar was named after this temple. This temple is dedicated to God Shiva. This temple is an excellent example of great architecture.
- Kathgodam: The temples of Sheetla Devi and Kalichaud are located near this town.From Kathgodam, one can head towards Almora, Nainital, Bhimtal, Sattal, and other major tourist destinations in Uttarakhand.
- Almora: One of the most captivating towns of Kumaun region, Almora is known for its natural beauty, handicrafts, cultural heritage, wildlife and more. A temple dedicated to Nanda Devi is located in the centre of this shoe-shaped town.
- Zero Point: Zero point offers unparalleled panoramic view of the magnificent Himalayan range. The snow-clad peaks of Kedarnath, Shivling, Trishul and the Nanda Devi can be seen from this point.