We continued our drive from a drizzling Chakouri to a pouring Binsar on 15th June.
It was a difficult drive owing the varying intensity of the rain, which started as we checked out from Ojaswi resort. It is here that Deepak’s knowledge came in handy. He bought us to the Binsar Sanctuary gate – we shaved off at least a good 30~40 kilometers in the treacherous rain. I was glad to see the rain, with the hope of witnessing the Himalayan panorama in full bloom post the rain – which at this point in time I was thinking to be a temporary phenomena, as I was not checking the weather bulletin on the TV set at Ojaswi, as we were so involved in peak viewing, Birthi trip etc. For a moment my belief was correct as the owners of Grand Oak Manor Sindhu and Skikha greeted us saying ‘we were lucky as the rain stopped and the sun peeped’ – however their joy was short lived and then started the horrendous downpour which bought in misery of mammoth proportions for the hapless people of the State.
We got our entry tickets at the sanctuary gate and headed for our resort. The path leading upto Grand Oak was very slippery owing to the downpour which in turn created a very muddy track. The short drive upto the resort was very adventurous – more like a dirt safari.
The resort sent their 4x4 Bolero for our pickup. We settled in our room and admired the colonial setting of the by-gone era. The bed was very comfortable and the wash room clean and was equipped with all important amenities – though not modern, however very aesthetic.
Grand Oak Manor is a heritage property of the erstwhile Ramsays, now managed by the young couple. Kudos to both of them for their commitment to provide quality stay coupled with home food in such demanding terrain. The staff is very polite, hard working and always sporting a smile despite very trying situations, i.e. working back and forth in rain for pickup, starting the genset, ferrying provisions etc. The food is always served hot and there is always a different menu on a daily basis.
It is important to note that this resort is not a typical hotel laden with amenities such as TV, 24 hrs hot water etc – Binsar is more of an outgoing place and not the one for a couch potato. The resort operates on the principles of environmentally friendly operations. There’s no power from morning 8AM till evening 6.00PM – this is applicable for all resort in the Sanctuary. Power is available till 10.00PM and thereafter solar lantern is provided for night use. Thus one needs to ensure that all phone, battery charging etc is completed during the stipulated hours. Hot water is also available for fixed hours in the morning. Think about it that there is nothing available in this remote setting and yet we have the privilege to enjoying whatever we desire homemade food, peace of mind to catch-up on any of our reading habits – there is a library in the resort – it house some classic from the old era. Also there a small souvenir store which Shikha runs to support the local artisans. In case one plans for a trekking trip Sindhu is your ideal partner owing his knowledge and his network in the region.
The Binsar sanctuary is home to several birds, flaura and fauna – oak & rhododendron forest. At the Jhandidhar top we get a full view of the Garwahal and Kumaon Himalayas, as the sanctuary is strategically located in the middle of Uttranchal. Unfortunately the inclement weather did not allow us to venture out even for 5 minutes and therefore we could not enjoy any of this – perhaps the next time. We have made a promise to Sindhu and Shikha to return. I owe it to them, since they took very good care of me during one of the nights when I was not feeling well. It was a great to feel assured in a place so remote that there were people around and I need not fear for the worst.
To read more about my travel trail on this trip I recommend reading my review of the Naini Retreat in Nainitaal.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Relive tranquility: unwind in the Uttarakhand himalayas, the green way. Cradled in the lap of Kumaon and nearly forty acres of thick oak, cedar and rhododendron forests of the Binsar Estate, the Grand Oak Manor exudes old world charm from the colonial era. ... more less
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