I slowly peeked through the curtain onto the window only to see a thick cloud of mist covering it. I moved towards the door in anticipation. Maybe I could see the trees moving, gauge how windy it is and layer up accordingly. After all, the mountain wind is not very forgiving, you see. But again a mist covered glass. I managed to brave the cold, put on my warmest jacket and stepped out to witness probably the most surreal landscape I had ever seen. A fresh layer of snow now covered the otherwise dusty ground, while newer flakes were mid air. The whossing of the wind, pitter-patter against the roof and the cold window panes — all made sense now. This is the thing about Mary Budden Estate, it is a sanctuary filled with experiences; experiences that stay with you for a lifetime.
Situated amidst the wilderness in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Mary Budden Estate comes with a rustic charm, rarest luxuries and an opportunity to disconnect in order to connect deeply. If you happen to find (or lose) yourself here, engage in these 5 wholesome experiences and come back a renewed person:
The Wild Cat Brunch
Situated amid the lush wilderness of a wildlife sanctuary, the estate enjoys the perks of the woods, occasional leopard sightings, and a variety of Himalayan birds. And amidst this setting one can enjoy the Wild Cat Brunch at the property. With live grills, followed by a mix of hot pots and the warmth of the staff’s hospitality here, it becomes an afternoon worth remembering.
Hot Chocolate at Zero Point
There are plenty of things to do around Mary Budden Estate if you’re up for burning a few calories. We went for a not-so-short trek upto to the Zero Point, which offers an unobstructed 360-degree view of the mountains around. On your way lookout for rhododendron trees, the Himalayan coal tit and other varieties of migratory birds, turmeric plants and the Nanda Devi peak. Don’t worry if you can’t spot these — Hemu ji, the guide will help you out. Once you reach Zero Point, cherish the hot chocolate cuppa that the folks back at property packed for you.
On some days the mountains are all about sunshine, warmth and comfort food. And that’s exactly what the Himalayan lunch at the Mary Budden Estate entails. With a beautiful setup in the garden under the warm afternoon sun, portions of happiness are served on your plate. Right from spring rolls and dumplings to warm nettle soup, and noodles, everything is delectable. And mind you, it’s not food without thought. All produce has been locally sourced from the nearby farms and a lot of thought and efforts have been put in by Chef Ram Neupane and his team to bring the Himalayan flavours to our table.
Witness the magic of hills
The hills definitely have something magical about them. Whether it is a warm, sunny afternoon or a chilly, snowy morning, each weather type brings with it its own charm. And at Mary Budden Estate, finding cosy spots to cherish the varied moods of the weather is right up your alley. Whether you choose to sit out on the porch sipping a hot cup of coffee watching the snowfall, in the garden reading one of the many books that the property has, or simply sit under the giant tree a few steps below to watch the transition from dusk to dawn you’re in for a treat. For the lovers of the night sky, Serena’s garden is the perfect place to witness the moon, stars and the Milky Way in all their glory owing to minimal light and sound pollution. If you’re lucky you might even spot a shooting star or two.
Trek to the Dalar Village
If quaint villages, local folks and a walk through the wilderness into the hills are your calling, we suggest heading to the Dalar village. One of Binsar’s oldest settlements, it is typical of rural Kumaon. Pay attention to the sounds of nature, twigs cracking under your feet, slight rustling of the leaves and most of all the stillness of the mountains. What awaits you at the end of the trek is a traditional Kumaoni thali — including Bhatt ke dubke, pahadi raita (a personal favourite), bhang ki chutney, roti and jakhiya aloo. And to top it all off there is kheer. Need we say more?