>  Explore   >  In the shadow of the Himalayas – 9 Furlongs Lodge – Binsar, Uttarkhand

The Earth has music for those who listen- William Shakespeare

The Hills are alive…. – when Julie Andrews sang this song in the movie “The Sound of Music” she was obviously referring to the Austrian Alps. I sang it whilst packing for the 4 day adventure that was to take my wife & me to the Himalayan heights of 8500 feet where the crisp and pure mountain air awaited us. Our 5 hour train ride on the Shatabdi express from New Delhi to the Kathgodam rail head was uneventful and a driver organised by the lodge drove us through the picturesque Himalayan foothills and 3 hours later we honed in to our destination. The last 9 Furlongs or 1.8 kms/1 mile we rode a second world war Willy’s Jeep which negotiated the near vertical climb with twists and the turns to the top – truly an exciting & exhilarating experience.

The lodges built by the legendary Commissioner of Kumaon on The Estate offer near 360 degree views of the mighty Himalayas with Nanda Devi as the star attraction and the Kakkar Kot lodge was to be our home for 3 nights. Marie Therese, a Belgian national wrote her book –“Epic journey across India & Nepal on foot, Bullock carts & local trains” whilst staying at this bungalow. Our home apart from offering solitude and spectacular views was also blessed with a fireplace which extended much required warmth to mortals like us from the plains.

The location of the 9 Furlongs estate in the midst of the Binsar sanctuary was curated by the Gods! A guest doesn’t have to be an ornithologist to enjoy watching the arrival and departure of 200 species of birds such as the Blue whistling thrush, Grey night jar, pheasants, raptors and wood peckers while also being home to wild boars, barking deer, porcupines, the flying squirrel and we were told the resident leopard does drop by for a “Dekho” (look) sometimes.

The walking trails are so inviting it goads the laziest to explore the forest and gaze at the stunning landscape. There are local Kumaoni villages to be discovered and an option to taste the cuisine while admiring their simplicity, courage & strength to take on the elements of nature which at times can be harsh, unforgiving and unrelenting. To us city dwellers the rhododendrons, cedar, cypress and the Himalayan oak trees offer much required serenity and on returning to the lodge there are books to read and do listen to the Estate manager who is an encyclopedia of knowledge and unravels the mystique and mythology of the feisty Nanda Devi. Time stands still here, the vistas are fantastic and the camera does not take a break except at night when we are asleep.   

The “Must dos” are the sun downer at Dylan’s point, the hike to hunter’s rock and the Kangarchina trek where a picnic lunch is served at the highest point on the mountain The staff are well trained, attentive and the menu was curated to suit our taste buds and truly the indulgence made us feel like Royalty. For breakfast there are many options, bacon and sausages while a Kumaoni thali with local delicacies is served for lunch. We loved the tastefully furnished bungalows with large French windows that look out at the forest, hills, peaks and yonder and to sip a single malt whisky by the fireside listening to the crackle of logs with a light shower patting the roof is a formula for attaining heavenly bliss.

The Estate has two other charming bungalows – the Saul Kot also called the writer’s bungalow as it was once the home of Tiziano Terzani an Italian writer and the name of the cottage was derived from the writing desk placed on the second floor with the most glorious views of the Himalayan range. There is also the one bedroom Stone cottage ideal for a honeymooning couple with a bedroom and bathroom and a fourth bungalow will soon be ready to receive guests which will feature 2 bedrooms and a new Dining room which will cater to the guests staying on the property.

The last verse of the song “The hills are alive:” are so apt for this near heavenly abode:

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely

I know I will hear what I’ve heard before

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

And I’ll sing once more


By Chopper– Fly for about an hour from Delhi to Dinapani and drive to the estate -25 kms and 45 minutes

Commercial Flight– Delhi/Pant Nagar/Delhi

Air India operates a flight four times a week on Wednesday, Friday , Saturday and Sunday from Delhi to Pantnagar and the drive to Binsar via Almora-140 kms /84 miles  takes 4 hours

By Train

New Delhi to Kathgodam rail station -Shatabdi express

Departure Delhi at 6.20 am and arrive in Kathgodam at 11.30 am. The drive to 9 Furlongs post arrival takes 3.5 hours

Kathgodam to New Delhi rail station- Shatabdi express

Departure Kathgodam at 3.35 pm and arrive in New Delhi at 8.55 pm. The drive to the rail station from 9 Furlongs takes 3 hours

The driving time and distance from Delhi to Binsar – 9 hours and 375 Kms /223 miles.

Fun Fact– A furlong is a measure of distance and equals 1/8 of a mile. It was the measurement of the distance in British India and in this case indicates the distance from the main road to the property at the top of the hill.

Signature dishes


Kumaoni veg thali

Veg quiche

Non veg

Kumaoni style mutton curry

Bhang chicken- An absolute must

Anglo Indian style lamb chops                                                     

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