The Mary Budden Estate lies within the Binsar Wildlife Reserve in Uttarakhand. As per the current pandemic scenario, all paperwork had to be in order before attempting to cross the Uttarakhand State Border. A COVID19 Negative Test report ( within 96 hours prior to entering the State ), all communication / passenger / vehicle details and identification. On the drive from Gurgaon – Delhi – Binsar, our two SUVs were stopped 6-7 times to check paperwork. This was in the early part of September 2020 – things might be different now. Best to check online for yourself.
The gates of the Binsar Wildlife Reserve are open only from 0700 hours to 1800 hours. Plan your trip accordingly else you will not be allowed to enter the Reserve and hence will not make it to the Estate for your first night.
The drive was terrible till we reached Uttarakhand – mainly because we did not plan the route properly and ended up driving through what felt like every single village and town in Uttar Pradesh AND these places barely had any roads. It was one hell of a bumpy ride. Had I not been accompanied by some great company and fantastic music ( Hello Fleetwood Mac! ), I might have lost my mind.
Once we entered the gate of the Binsar Wildlife Reserve, the hotel staff accompanied our vehicles all the way to the Estate – which took about another 40 minutes. At least I was too trashed to be able to anything that night – except stuff my face with food that reminded me of my childhood & crash into a surprisingly comfortable bed with a hot water bottle under the covers.
THE WAY WE WERE : GETTING BACK TO BASICS
Wake up early morning – because that’s what the mountains do to me! No alarm clock needed. Journaling. Cold coffee with a side of fabulous mountain views. And then just nothing to do all day except soak in the green and the clean air. I did get a mild headache because I ran up too many steps on my first day in Binsar. It’s more than 2000 meters above sea level and you need to give your body *some* time to acclimatize.
DISCONNECT TO CONNECT
If you’re planning to go to The Mary Budden Estate, you should plan to get absolutely no work done. There is some mobile network and some WiFi – it can be great sometimes and non-existent sometimes. Eventually, the WiFi got really good and I felt bad. It was nice to be entirely disconnected from the rest of the world. I don’t watch television, so that was one I thing I didn’t even register. Did the room have TV sets?! I have no idea. This was also a good opportunity to actually connect with the people I was living with! Who would’ve thought that you can have a perfectly great conversation with a fellow human being, without checking your phone! Wonder of wonders! /sarcasm
Dinner under The Milky Way, which is visible to the naked eye?! Yes please. Can we do this every night?
FIND YOUR STORY
The first few days at The Mary Budden Estate were difficult for me. I was not feeling useful AT ALL. I don’t think I know how to relax entirely. I constantly have to be doing. Something. Anything. And MBE really gave me a chance to do nothing. Which I only saw and accepted after a first few days. Prior to that, the resistance was STRONG. Once I figured out that I was truly meant to do nothing, I really got into it. The bonfires helped.
SEEK YOUR WILDERNESS
After many days of lazing around, a walk in the forest was overdue. I’m a huge fan of lazing around but even I was excited to FINALLY step into the forest and soak in its sights and sounds. There are several trails that you can explore as a guest. Depending on your stamina, these walks can range from an hour to the sky is the limit – and you can vary the terrain and path-difficulty accordingly. I took the easiest one.
HEAD UP IN THE CLOUDS & FEET ON THE GROUND : BE ELEVATED!
It was a privilege to watch Karan and Siddharth work to put a room together – for me to photograph it. I had been looking forward to an opportunity like this since 2017. I’ve been a photographer for the last 16 years and yet there was SO MUCH to learn. During whatever little time I spent with Karan, I’ve begun to see my own photographs in a new light. I saw how a vision in someone’s head could be translated into an elevated photograph by putting boots on the ground and relentlessly asking for better.
RELAX & REJUVENATE
Reading, eating freshly baked goods from the kitchen, falling asleep in the Sun with not a care in the world. Staring at Cosmos flowers swaying in the mountain breeze. My mind was empty and my heart was full.
BOBO, LAYLA and RUFUS
TILL WE MEET AGAIN
I spent twelve days at The Mary Budden Estate. I came back home to Gurgaon less than a month ago and I am ready to go back to the mountains again. Some days, I find myself sitting at my desk, contemplating one of the many introspective moments I had in Binsar. The twelve days felt like some of the most intense personal growth that I’ve ever had.
Obviously, I cannot wait to go back to see how the MRS Group ( Karan Singh Vaid & his team ) make The Mary Budden Estate even more welcoming & luxurious. If there’s one that can do that, it’s them.
Word-sparks borrowed from Karan Singh Vaid.
Gratitude for the hospitality & love by the staff : Prem, Reva, Gobind ji, Ajay, Vijay and the others.