Having been a part of the automotive industry for over a decade, being struck by wanderlust came easily and naturally to me. And the classic lines of the 4×43.0L Ford Endeavour, my true-blue SUV, has always fuelled my desire to travel. After some extensive searching on the internet and several family debates and discussions, we all reached a consensus on the destination–the Kumaoni hill station of Binsar.
At a distance of 380 km from the national capital and 33 km from the hill town of Almora in Uttarakhand, Binsar is a beautiful, tranquil yet wild hill station. It is also of some historical significance, having been the summer capital of the Chand Raj kings who ruled the Kumaon region in the 11th and then the 18th centuries. This much, we deciphered even before we embarked on the journey.
What we did not know, and could not have known, were the challenges the journey would throw at us. Thankfully, even without knowing it, we were already adequately equipped for the challenges, thanks to the touch-enabled satellite navigation and the shift-on-the-fly 4×4 system on the Endeavour. Not to forget the ample 380 Nm of peak torque from that powerful yet efficient 3.0L TDCi common rail diesel engine. Although the distance itself is less than 400km, given the perilous state of Indian highways,the journey took us a good 12 hours. But we were never short on adventure, be it the drive through the Jim Corbett Sand Dunes in a bid to avoid being stuck at level crossings or a short-cut through the narrow by-lanes of Rampur’s Agricultural outskirts. The icing on the cake was the fabulous drive from the Kumaon Foothills to Almora and then on to Binsar, in the cover of darkness.
It was during this drive in the pitch dark that we felt at one with nature. As we plowed on, the narrow, twisty and muddy mountain roads,with hills on one side and a sheer drop on the other, tested man and machine to the fullest.
The Zero Point rest house–our destination, was comfortably appointed and staffed by a friendly set of people whose politeness in their service was comparable to what one would expect at any good hotel. This, despite the remoteness of their location. Indeed, the electricity at the rest house had to be generated as there was no administration power supply in the vicinity.
Situated at an altitude of 2,400 m, Binsar is one of the highest hill stations in the Kumaon Region. So what one wakes up to is a phenomenal 360-degree view of the majestic Himalayas. During our stay in Binsar, we paid a visit to the famous Baneshwar Temple. Constructed in the 13th century during the reign of King Kalyan, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a must-see sight for any visitor.Surprisingly, we also found ourselves at the local post office! Vacation or not, my daughter’s school project work on the Indian postal system had to take precedence. What was amazing though was the fact that in this day of emails and SMS-es, I found myself gazing abstractedly at 10-paisa postcard, lost in the nostalgia it was able to evoke.
But as all good things come to an end, so did our trip. And it was not without some heartache that we embarked on the long drive back to Gurgaon.
About the author
Kasturi loves to escape into the wilderness every now and then and when she is away, music is her only companion. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org