Best known for its pilgrim sites, Uttarakhand is also a land of wildlife sanctuaries, some of which are an absolute treat for trekkers and nature-trail lovers. Binsar is one such sanctuary that a young-at-heart would not like to miss.
Home to the Himalayas, the north Indian state of Uttarakhand is mostly visited for the hill stations, religious sites, and the wildlife sanctuaries.
The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, at an altitude of approximately 2400 metres, is one of the quietest places in the state, valleys of which otherwise echo the sounds of holy chants or hubbub made by pilgrims and tourists.
Surrounded by the snow clad Himalayan peaks of Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, and Panchachuli, the sanctuary is a green paradise all the year round. Within its forest ranges reside a plethora of wildlife such as the leopards, the barking deer, mountain goats, porcupines, foxes, langurs, and over 200 species of birds such as magpies, laughing thrush and forktails.
The place is a paradise for nature lovers, and authorities are trying to preserve it with all possible and reasonable measures. Laying of electricity or water pipes are banned in the sanctuary, and the home-stays in the vicinity rely on solar power and mountain water.
The home-stays are mostly occupied by tourists; especially trek and trail enthusiasts and the locals in this area are working as naturalists and aware guides. They would lead one through the pines, oaks, rhododendrons, other Himalayan herbs and shrubs, and also the Bineshwar Mahadev Temple.
Inside the sanctuary is a 16th-century temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the creator of the universe in Hindu mythology. With its twin white domes, the temple stands out from its green environs, which are a party of pine trees.
Inside the sanctuary are also some local cafes serving typical Kumaoni delicacies. A feast of fresh seasonal vegetables, lentils, beans and fish and mutton is made in a traditionally for all guests.
However, the highlight for most visiting the Binsar is the Zero Point, the highest point of Binsar in the sanctuary at about 2408 metres. It takes about two hours to trek up to the point, which offers a 350 kilometres panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks.
Shogi, Himachal Pradesh