It is one thing to pass through a forest, enjoying the trek, the adventure, the exercise, the mild aches in legs…and it is another to feel every leaf, every plant is alive and talking to you, feeling love for it.
Binsar did the latter to me. I had earlier also trekked through the forests, but never had this experience I felt this time. I can’t say if the current experience was aided through a recent yoga/spiritual retreat that had one message- all life is one, all life is connected. Despite certain exercises/practices in that course, I never felt that connection, but Binsar forests provided me that experience, that inner calm.
Before I delve on the beauty of this place (? every place), let me explain Binsar’s location. Binsar is a wildlife sanctuary located in the Almora district of Uttarakhand, 96 Kms from Nainital and 405 Kms from Delhi. It is located at a height of 7913 ft above the sea level, and its height and the dense forest here ensure cool temperatures. The place has many uniques- dense forest, minimal population, and mesmerizing scenes of sunrise/sunset and their reflection on the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas- the Uttarakhand Himalayas with glorious peaks such as Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli amongst others.
All this could have been enablers for the experience one may have in this serene place. As we trekked through the forest, my attention was caught by swaying slender grass. I tried to pull one, in vain, when my son suggested it was Bamboo and the guide reconfirmed it. Groups of young Bamboo ranging from around 1-7 feet in height across the trek held my attention steadfast. There was something peculiar about these beautifully swaying grasses. They seemed happy, as part of the jungle ecosystem, standing in contrast to the tall oak trees that formed the main body of the jungle. It was as if these little plants seemed as much, or more resilient, a part of the ecosystem, their flexibility providing them a survival virtue bigger than the sturdiest of trees. What are their counterparts in the human ecosystem?? People who may never be talked about, who live life as it should be led, with least resilience, and who make the race, any race, richer.
Besides the Bamboo, a wild rose plant, solitary, here and there, caught my attention. The rose plant, even without any rose, and along with its thorns, seemed the most beautiful creation of nature. The multicolour of its leaves was heartwarming, and it looked so fresh. What gave it its specialty was its obliviousness to what was besides it. Its beauty was for everyone and unaffected by everyone. It was not seeking attention, and therefore, there was no reason it would ever despair.
Similar to the young Bamboos and roses were bunches of some grass on the path we were trekking on. Their colour was a beautiful admixture of shades of green. Tall blades swayed, and trampling by whosoever walked over them, seemed to cause them no harm.
Then I stopped seeing; and looked around. Every leaf seemed alive. Every life seemed beautiful. There was a patch of 3 green leaves, dark and happy. They seemed to acknowledge my touch and pleasure was mine. Every tree thereafter looked so beautiful. I could not stop admiring the varied colours of nature, and the harmony they were in. There was a silence and peace that I felt deep within, that I felt one with, and all human sounds became external. Such was the magnanimity of nature; such the littleness of humanity.
This forest trek has thus left unforgettable memories and treasured experiences.
A few other things about Binsar gel with the nature experience of jungle. The place has no electricity. The guest houses therefore here provide solar electricity for around 3 and a half hour in a day- 5.30 pm to around 8.45 pm. After that, if one doesn’t sleep for a while, there are candles, set in two beautiful bedside lanterns and one in the bathroom. The KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) guest house, where we stayed, and the place, necessitates a healthy discipline. Tea is served on the terrace at sunrise-actual sunrise- at around 6.20 am, hot water in buckets at 7.30 am, breakfast between 8 to 9 am, lunch from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm, dinner from 7.30 to 8.30 pm. The time in between is available for treks or visit to viewpoints such as the sunset point. If you are staying in KMVN guest house, for sunrise viewing, you just have to get on the terrace of the guest house itself. The experience is indescribable. As the sun rises, the Himalayan peaks bask in the brightness and look magnanimous. Binsar/Uttarakhand is also the first place when I got to experience Himalayas. Reading about it in geography textbooks or seeing a peak too closely to miss the bigger picture does not have the same impact as seeing the Himalayas as a range, standing distinctly and marking the royal landmark of a place. These peaks are the compass of the place, and everything is with respect to them. The peaks of these mountains are also not just masses of land, but revered places, places that draw admiration and awe. They reveal their facets, when sun is bright and the sky is clear, and remain mysterious and foggy otherwise. Sometimes, they, along with the sky, take on the reddish hue of the sun, at sunset time.
One goes back from this place thus getting a glimpse of nature at its best.