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Binsar

By Anamika Mukherjee

Amit had been to Binsar a few years ago, one of the few trips that I had not joined him on, and had been itching to get me to go there with him ever since. So finally, with some misgivings, I agreed, and we left Bangalore early in February, hoping to spend five relaxing nights in solitary splendour, crisp, cool weather, and the beautiful environs of Binsar.

My misgivings were all to do with traveling with kids. We had traveled with them a lot already, but it had never been easy yet. On the trip to Delhi when we had aimed to go to Leh, but, due to our flight being cancelled, had ended up going to Kasauli instead, the kids had fallen violently sick towards the end of the trip; on our trip to Lakshadweep a couple of months earlier, they had mostly enjoyed themselves, but had had several toileting disasters that rendered the experience something of a mixed bag for me; and on various and numerous trips to Pondicherry, they had been alternatingly sick, bored, disgruntled, or all three at once.

What's more – our trip to Binsar started with a long train journey to Delhi, a brief detour to Amit's dad's house to get bathed, fed, and rested, and another overnight train journey to Kathgodam. This to be followed by a long-ish three hour drive up the hills before we could reach our destination.

All the same, the great day came, and the four of us with our seven pieces of luggage and all our misgivings clambered into the train and settled down in our A/C First Class coupe. Travel by A/C First is probably the most luxurious and relaxing mode of travel ever invented. In fact, it is so very luxurious and relaxing as not to be worth the effort – because, if a journey doesn't involve some significant degree of discomfort and exposure to the elements, if it doesn't yield any exciting experiences worth talking about, then it's hardly worth undertaking at all, is it?

Whatever my complaints regarding the train journey might have been, the car ride left me no scope for complaint. What should have been an easy, picturesque drive up the mountain turned into a three-hour ordeal with both girls puking and retching the entire way up. I'm not sure that this is the kind of excitement and discomfort I had in mind when I talked about enjoying the travel experience.

Sightseeing in Binsar

Our guesthouse in Binsar was in a nature reserve, which meant it was quiet and remote, and there was no electricity. There was a limited supply of solar power, that provided enough light for guests to have and early dinner and retire to bed by nine, when the lights went out. The guesthouse was serviceable, but not fancy. The rooms were clean and of a comfortable size, but not luxurious. It had one particularly interesting design feature: the bathrooms had windows that looked out on to - and worse, could be looked in to from - the reception and driveway area! And they opened on to the corridor that led past the rooms! Sounds and smells were therefore freely available to all passersby. What's more, for the occasional very tall guest, tantalizing glimpses of bare bottoms on pots would also have been on offer. Just as well there was no electricity so it was always quite dark inside.

Outside, a short distance away from the rooms, there was a large terrace. Lined up at a good distance from the terrace was an impressive array of snow peaks, with lower ranges of hills and valleys spread out before them. The most famous of the peaks was Nanda Devi; other well-known peaks including Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, and, far away to the northeast, the Annapurna range also did its best to impress.

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Comments and information welcome. Write to anamika dot mukherjee at amukherjeeworld dot net
Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.