Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

About the Park

Set in the scenic Jhandi Dhar hills in the Himalayas, Binsar was the summer capital of the erstwhile Chand Rajas who ruled Kumaon between the 11th and 18th centuries AD. Elevated to the status of a wildlife sanctuary in 1988 after a prolonged movement by the local community, this sleepy hamlet in Uttarakhand spans an area of about 45 sq km that covers nine very picturesque and traditional Kumaon villages, with a total population of just 600 people. It’s a walkers and trekkers paradise between its villages and original forests.

Named after a 16th century Shiva temple dedicated to Bineshwar, Binsar provides a stunning view of the 300-km-long snow-covered expanse covering Himalayan peaks such as Badrinath, Kamet, Gauri Parbat, Panchachuli, Kedarnath, Shivling, Trisul and Nanda Devi. Owing to its proximity to the national capital, this wildlife park has become a popular spot for trekkers looking for their weekend’s dose of fresh air in a tranquil and breathtaking setting.

Binsar is a glorious slice of Himalayan flora and fauna, that has survive the ravages of Himalayan deforestation and development. Its broadleaf temperate forests are home to 200 species of resident and migratory birds; including Griffon vultures, laughing thrushes, sibias, jays, forktails, Kalij pheasants, and tits; making it one of the best birding destinations in the Kumaon. There are 25 varieties of trees, 24 types of bushes and seven kinds of grasses in the sanctuary; its higher altitudes are covered in oak and in winter a carpet of red from the rhododendron trees. If it’s your lucky day, you may get to spot gorals effortlessly climbing up oak-lined slopes or Indian porcupines peeking out of their rocky hideouts. These misty tree-clothed foothills are also known to shelter leopards, red foxes, common langurs, yellow-throated martens, barking deer, jungle cats, and the Himalayan black bear. 

With open patches of greenery frequented by hill jezebels, painted ladies, Indian tortoiseshells and red admirals, Binsar’s forests will certainly pique one’s interest in butterfly watching as you trek along the steep paths. If you plan a trip soon after the monsoons, you can also find reptiles such as the Himalayan trinkets, Kashmir agamas and white-lipped pit vipers lurking around the moss-covered forest floors and layers of fallen oak leaves.  

Conservatio efforts:

A proactive village based cooperative, Forest department and private sector have played key roles in encouraging the local populace to depend on sustainable sources of livelihood, turning their attention away from the forests’ depleting resources and instead look to preservation of both their natural and cultural heritage through the advent of nature and trekking tourism. Though signs of logging and forest fires are visible, extensive damage to Binsar’s fragile ecosystem has so far been avoided and quintessentially beautiful Kumaon villages, with their unique architectural heritage remained largely unscathed by ugly development seen now in many parts on the drive to Binsar. Furthermore a noticeable increase in birdlife and animal life is now visible, without the hunting pressures of yester year. Long may this continue.

What you can do in the park:

Binsar’s cooler climes make it ideal for a quiet trek in the lap of the Kumaon hills. You can soak in the soothing sights and sounds of the forests through nature walks led by guides familiar with the mountain’s flora and fauna. The wildlife sanctuary is also a visual treat for those keen on watching its winged visitors – birding and butterfly walks are two of the main activities in this park. A trip to Zero Point, the highest viewing point in the sanctuary, for a breath-taking view of the chain of snow-capped peaks, is worthwhile but gets crowded with trippers. 

What you can do near the park:

If you have a day to spare, consider a trek to the Jageshwar temple. Tourist lodges also arrange day-trips to nearby NGOs such as Panchachuli Women Weavers of Kumaon that focus on generating sustainable employment opportunities for the region’s villagers by helping them market local produce and handicrafts like jams, pickles, shawls, and preserves. 

How to Reach:

Air:  Pantnagar Airport (144 km). It is a 5.5-hour drive. Taxis can be pre-booked through your travel operator/lodge.                         

Rail: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station (119 km). It is a 3-hour drive from the wildlife sanctuary.                                                                   

Car: Almora is the closest town (33km). It is around 375 km from Delhi.

Entry FeesThe park charges a one-time entry fee of INR 250 per person for Indian nationals. Foreign nationals are charged a sum of INR 600 per person. Additionally, one will have to pay INR 250 per vehicle for entry into the park.  

How to Book: You can pre-book your trip through your lodge or tour operator.

Park Timings:The park is open for visitors from 6AM till 6PM. It is closed in July and August due to the monsoons.

Getting Around the Park:                                                                          

The region's hilly terrain makes it difficult to move within this pocket-sized park in a vehicle.  You are your best bet to make your way up and down Binsar’s forested slopes on foot.

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