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Trip Report Kumaon: Himalayan villages and views, the best of them, Binsar & Chaukori.

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You can have a look at the pictures here:
Picture tall Himalayan peaks towering over the entire landscape, pine forests, old temples, green terraced fields, beautiful people, age old traditions and culture..that’s exactly what Kumaon is.

Me and my brother took a trip to Kumaon in the winter of 2009. So what makes Kumaon different from other hill regions is the brilliant views you get of the tallest and most beautiful Himalayan peaks like the Trishul, Nandadevi,Nandakot and the Panchchuli. Winter is the time to go to Kumaon, you get clear skies and the snowline is lower,so the peaks look more majestic(not that they look less majestic otherwise). Kumaon is also the place where you are most likely to see unadulterated rural life in India, untouched by dirty construction,sloppy roads and unplanned development(in most parts,not all). Despite Kumaon’s popularity, several parts remains very untouristy, especially Binsar,Mukteshwar, Chaukori,maybe even Munsiyari.

Our first destination was Binsar. We reached Kathgodam by train from Delhi, it wa cold,and soon we saw the best sunrise of our life. That’s when you realize what pollution has done to our skies. . The early morning journey was simply great with the energetic Kosi river flowing by. After almora the landscape changed and soon we were into some thick forests. The views were also great with the soft morning sunlight on the peaks. This was the signature Kumaon landscape we were looking for, and there it was,right in front of us, The towering,inspiring Himalayas, very different from the not so tall-snow capped peaks you see in Himachal Pradesh.

Our first halt was at the village of Katdhara,inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Katdhara was pretty much like the perfect Himalyan village. The oak and chir forests were very refreshing. The views of the Himalayas were great. The entire Himalayan range from Nandaghunti to Nepal was visible. Now was the best part of the village stay, excellent,hot,piping,organic,tasty,authentic meal, a Kumaoni lunch of masur dal and some local green vegetable. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering through the woods and being awed by the Himalayan views. In the coming days, we got a chance to eat more Kumaoni meals, rotis made from different millets(mandua,ragi), different varieties of vegetables, dals and “bhang chutney”. The best part was, there was no electricity, since the area was under the sanctuary. So with spending dark cold nights, being warmed up by hot food and angithis(charcoal fire) in a cosy village, I was living my dream.

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