Dhaulchhina is small quite village up in the mountains of Binsar. whichj is a region in Kumaon division in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Its located on top of the Jhandi Dhar Hills. Its located about 30 kilometres from the nearest town Almora. For those who are not familiar with the place, Almora is about 60 kilometres from the famous tourist location Nainital. Binsar is located at an altitude of almost 2500 meters. One can from the hilltops of Binsar, see the mighty Himalayas towering and imposing in its presence.
In fact, there is an interesting story behind our trip to this place. This is where my parents and their good friends go and chill out. You could say it’s their version of a Mar-a-Lago :P
But this time my Dad’s birthday was due to fall when they were in Binsar. Since we had an extended weekend, we decided to surprise them by dropping by unannounced.
How to get to Dhaulchhina
We live in the capital of India Delhi NCR. The easiest thing to do is to take an overnight train to a station called Kathgodam. Ranikhet Express is a popular train. There a few others too. But I prefer this one owing to its timings. It leaves Delhi at around 10 PM and reaches its destination at around 5 AM in the morning. All in a good night’s sleep.
Please note this train leaves from the “OLD Delhi” railway station. We made the mistake of landing up in the regular New Delhi Station (NDLS). The Old Delhi station is a good 30 mins drive from the new one. We had to make a mad dash and reached the station just as the train was leaving the platform.
The tickets are reasonably priced. They start out at USD $3 (INR 210) for a sleeper seat to USD $15 (INR 1250) for first AC.
You can take a bus directly from Delhi to Almora. Or you can go by train and then once you reach Kathgodam one can take a bus to Almora. But then you will need to figure out transportation for another 30 kilometres. You will need a cab.
However, I prefer direct cabs since I can directly reach Dhaulchhina. We took a cab from Kathgodam Railway Station. It took us around 5 hours to get to Dhaulchhina in Binsar. The cab was tad expensive compared to bus, but reasonable considering the distance to be covered. It cost us around USD $50 (INR 3500).
The final 500 meters to the hotel we had to walk since the climb was too steep for the cab. Thank god we had packed light.
Maa Anadamayee Hotel
This is a nice budget hotel in a quiet part of Dhaulchhina. Located on a hill the place has a nice lawn with a stunning view. The morning sun falls directly on the lawn. Great place to have that cup of desi chai with your biscotti while you gaze at the valley below.
The rooms are decently furnished with clean bathrooms. The food is made using indigenous techniques of cooking. The local cuisine is mouth-watering. While we enjoyed the vegetarian fare, fresh fruits and Sajan took the opportunity to sample some of the local wildlife.
The rooms rates are reasonable. They come for approx. USD $35 (INR 2500) per night. The rates usually include breakfast; however, one should check with the vendor before booking. Given the Covid-19 situation you can expect prices to drop dramatically.
If you are looking for a longer stay such 15-20 days you probably can get in touch with the hotel directly and speak to them. Below are the details.
Address: Almora - Berinag Rd, Dhaulchhina, Uttarakhand 263624
Phone: +91-94103 63088
Places to Visit around the Hotel
There are many places around Binsar including wild reserve areas and ancient temples such as Chitai Golu Devta Temple and Patal Bhuvaneshwari . We managed to go to a few of them. I will share them in our next post.
However, the most exciting part was exploring the nearby jungles and mountains near the hotel.The hotel is located halfway up on a joint where two mountains join. So, there is a significant bit of trekking uphill or downhill possible. Naturally being curious one tends to go up hill. It’s a treasure trove. From ancient tantric temples to jungles to lookout points to a quaint little Ashram up in the mountain. It was simply fantastic.
Trekking up the Hill
We went up hill and was pleasantly surprised to find a path. We kept trekking for almost 10 kilometers. From time to time the team split up to explore different interesting aspects of the landscape and re-joined ahead later. There were large open spaces before the mountain curved downhill. Wonderful place to re-discover the latent child in all of us. I made it point to roll in grass wherever possible. Also took as many pics as possible. :P
Halfway up there is a beautiful quaint little Ashram, which belongs to an organization founded by the Indian Saint Maa Anandamayi who happened to spend a few days in this place when she had visited Binsar.
Her very senior disciple then, now probably a master himself. Sits in contemplation in this ashram. He is generally not available to meet people. But the owner of the hotel is a big devotee and maybe able to arrange a meeting if that is what you desire.
Then there are small Tantric hill temples which stay closed in the day but open late in the night. These are temples with energies that support occult practices. One can see the Dhuni (Fire Pit) used by Tantrics who practice various occult processes.
We also reached a lookout point which gave us a clear view of the Himalayas. Oh! How I wish I could be there now during the lockdown to see the unpolluted view! One can clearly see the snow-capped tips of famous hills such the Nanda Devi from the lookout point.
Great place to sit and gaze the natural wonder ahead. Also, a great place to picnic or have a drink. The place is quite remote kind of gives people a great place to just chill with complete privacy. We made it a point to go there pretty much every day in the morning for Tea!
Hope you enjoyed our write-up on Binsar. We will share more interesting things about our visit in the next couple of posts as well. If you wish to know anything about the place, we will be more than happy to help.
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