Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kasar Devi, Binsar and A Painful Trekking Expedition

The following travelogue is a modified version from my diary.

Almora has the most intriguing zig zag road
That was my first glimpse with trekking. Technically that was my second solo trip in 2009 when as usual I was disillusioned with my monotonous life of existence, and decided to find some solace in the lap of Himalayas. However, at that time I was not as seasoned, and lack of experience in mountains made my trip a bit painful.

Day 2 (11:30 am): Binsar (I started with Day 2 because that’s where my pain began) 

“My legs can’t tax my body anymore and I curse myself for my youthful romantic folly and hitchhiking spree. The wonderful Himalayan peaks and dense forest can’t make me happy anymore. I was drenched in rain, one shoe torn down and a nail pricked the heel. Just a few minutes ago, a villager passed by and looked at me with wonder. He warned me of bhalu (bear) and sher (leopard) in the jungle, but he took the short cut in the middle of jungle and invisible in front of my eyes. I almost finished my lunch that I packed from the Dolma Restaurant in Kasar.

Desi Breakfast at Almora
Just 2 km and I’m wondering whether I could really reach it or not. Hopefully I would get a ride when I back from the sanctuary.

(2:30 pm) – Last 2 km I traveled to Binsar sanctuary by a car. It’s good to feel when you raise your thumb and a car stops. You silently open the door and throw your backpack and get inside. Anyways, I’m hopelessly disappointed with the sanctuary. First, the rainy season makes it difficult to catch Himalayan peaks from the height of 7,913 ft. Secondly, there are lots of family, kids, couple, click happy people all around, so there is no peace for a while. I am sitting in a place where less people can intrude. Smoking is a bad habit, especially in this mountain but still this is my third cigarette.

A few minute ago I tried to meditate and instantly I forgot my surroundings. So, I guess mountains have something related with meditation. 

Travel Info on Binsar

Khali Estate in Binsar
Binsar does hold one claim to fame – you can watch unparalleled view of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Shivaling, Trishul and Nanda Devi peaks from here. What else? If you are a bird lover and sport a good binocular, you can sport at least 150 species of birds in the region. And then there are butterflies…colorful, wonderful and a treat to your eyes. If you are daring enough, go for a leopard chase in the jungle (not advisable by me though). There are plenty of other things that you can sneak peek around Binsar such as Jageshwar Temple, Archaeological Museum, and  the Dandeshwar Temple Complex.

Day 1: (8:45 am) – I’m standing in the crowded street of Almora and seeking a cobbler who can fix my backpack. It’s a cheap and extremely uncomfortable giant sack, too heavy to carry, irksome piece of shit. I breathe a refreshing air in Almora, which was once a favorite place of sages of India and others. The twisty, winding hill roads with cool and bracing air make my day after a whole night journey.

I don’t want to stay in Almora but can’t decide where to go.

Himalayan peaks are pretty prominent from Binsar
(10:30 am) – I’ve booked a comfortable and clean room in Dolma Restaurant. It’s not so cheap (Rs.300) and bathroom is not attached. But I see the whole range of Himalaya from the balcony of this restaurant cum hotel. Also, need to mention, Kasar Devi temple is just behind the restaurant, so I must visit there where Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda) meditated for long.

(6:30 pm) – This temple (Kasar Devi) is a small and quaint and residents are two opposite poled sadhus. One is surely not Indian, quite looking like Osho. He is the chic one, sporting a long white beard and a colorful hat. And second one is rough, hashish smoker and talked all about atman (soul) and parmataman (oversoul or supersoul). These two sadhus have a nice tug of war going on. I don’t understand if they are sadhus, why they have certain ordinary feelings like jealousy, anger, pride etc. May be they need some grace.

Kasar Devi temple near Almora
Day 2: Road to Binsar – I come here at the wrong time; the whole valley is covered with fog and cloud. Trekking in the mountainous terrain is no joke. It was almost 25 km trek to Binsar from Kasar Devi, and due to rain I’m almost fully drenched. This heavy rucksack and disgusting army boots make my life more miserable in these mountains. 

It is wrong that I’m not having fun here. I sit and smoke, read, talk with the villagers, and walk. I haven’t heard a single noise except cars’ engines and chirping of birds. The whole valley is deliciously quiet and serene. 

Day 3: Waiting at the Haldwani bus stand, fully drenched and standing almost 5 hours now. Let it be!

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  • masterymistery says:
    February 12, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Epic journey. Thanks for sharing.

    masterymistery at
    cosmic rapture

  • shailesh gururani says:
    April 10, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    The pictures captured by you are better than all the bloggers who have clicked Almora. But I don't understand why you are depicting this glorious journey as tiresome.

  • wacky wanderlust says:
    April 18, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    Thanks for your comment Shailesh. The journey was indeed glorious and an experience in a way, but it was tiresome. Tiresome doesn't mean 'not enjoyable', it was thoroughly enjoyable and prepared me for next solo travels what I did in last 5 years.

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