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Atop Kumaon's Binsar Hills

This hilly retreat is all about watching the wildlife, walking through old villages and soaking up some Colonial charm

travel Updated: Apr 20, 2011 14:05 IST

An ideal getaway from the humdrum of city life, the Binsar Hills in Kumaon are a traveller's dream. They're peaceful, pretty and untouched by urban chaos. For those who think they'll miss luxury, the Heritage Home Mary Budden Estate perched atop the hills would prove otherwise.
It's a dream come true for any traveller to get the comfort of a luxe home on a vacation. And it becomes all the more delightful, if the luxurious home-stay is experienced amidst pristine nature and calm. Mary Budden Estate is picture-perfect for such wanderlust. 

A wild, wild holiday
The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary stretches over 50 kms. This is a regular sight-seeing spot for wildlife lovers, and offers scenic walks within the forest and the sanctuary. Blessed with exceptional natural beauty, Binsar and its surrounding forests have myriad wildlife including leopards, barking deer, mountain goats, pine martins, porcupines and wild boar. It is also a bird watchers paradise, with over 250 species. You could be lucky to spot ruby-red rhododendrons that set the mountains ablaze with colour.

Or, visit the temples within and around the sanctuary, such as the 16th Century Bineshwar, Golu Devta and Kesar Devi (the former home of a Dutch Monk).

Other popular activities include a walk to quaint neighbouring villages, and to the Zero Point, where a panorama of snow peaks are clearly visible.

The Budden estate also offers a taste of village life, as a few rooms in the nearby village houses have been renovated with modern amenities. The visitors can spend the night with the locals and participate in their daily activities and entertainment to soak up the spirit of the place.

If that's not quite your think, luxuriate in the 19th century cottages in the property, which echo their English country feel with elegant stone-walled facades, flowering creepers, cosy fireplaces and bukharis in every room, cheerful Killims and a brass bell to ring for the staff. The Cottage is about 150 years old and a renovation last year has preserved the essence of the past era quite well. There's a living room, dining room, a kitchen and a library, apart from the three double rooms which are available on rent individually as well. Here, they endorse the eco-friendly concept of living and utilise solar-powered lighting and rainwater harvesting techniques. Soon, another cottage will be added to the place, making room for more wanderers.

Fact File
Getting there: The nearest Railway station is at Kathgodam, 120kms from Binsar. Take the overnight Ranikhet Express from Delhi to Kathgodam and a cab will be organise by the cottage to reach Mary Budden Estate.
By Road from Delhi: Take NH24 to Rampur via the Hapur and Moradabad bypasses, then NH87 to Kathgodam via Rudrapur. Then take the state highway to Almora via Bhimtal, Bhowali, on to Binsar. It takes approximately 9.5 hours if one leaves early, at around 5am. Tariff: The Budden Cottage charges R40,000 (for the whole unit). it has three rooms which can be reserved individually as well. A new cottage is also on its way. For reservations, call 9810185101 or visit www.marrybuddenestate.in