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Mary Budden Estate – Binsar

Mary Budden Estate is delightfully hidden away in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, directly below the Binsar Zero mark on the milestone. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the great Indian Himalayas. The sanctuary was established in 1988 after a prolonged local movement for its formation. The sanctuary encloses an area of 47.04 sq kms. There is one entry gate for tourists, at Ayarpani, located on the south-east edge, and only one motorable road climbing in a north-westerly direction to end at the government run Forest Rest House. The sanctuary serves as a home for leopards, ghorals, wild boar, kakars, monkeys, Indian red fox, jackals, pine martens, Himalayan black bears, and porcupines. In addition to this, it also houses more than 200 species of birds that are of both resident and migratory. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its wide variety of flora ranging from 25 types of trees and 24 types of bushes to seven varieties of grasses. The higher altitudes of the sanctuary are covered with oak and rhododendron forest.

Budden estate sits on five serene acres of land, perched at almost 8,000 feet above sea level. It is one of only five privately owned estates in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Lovingly restored for comfortable and elegant living, it still retains its original charm.

Ms. Budden was the daughter of the Reverend John Henry Budden, who in 1850 was appointed by Captain Ramsay of the British government to run a charitable mission in the Kumaon Hills. Choosing Almora as his base, Reverend Budden dedicated two buildings in the Almora Bazaar to the mission work: one was used as a Mission Chapel and the other as a school. The Budden Memorial Church stands tall in the Almora bazaar even today. The work of the mission station continued largely under the supervision of Reverend Budden’s wife and his daughter, Ms. Mary Budden. Mary Budden dedicated herself to charitable works, establishing and operating a school for girls, a hospital for women, a boys & girls orphanages and a refuge for homeless women. A plaque in her memory stands perfectly within the Budden Memorial Church in Almora.

Budden Estate is named in memory of its last known inhabitant in the 19th century, Ms. Mary Budden. In 1990 Ashwani and Serena Chopra bought the estate and with it they inherited an enamel jug, some of Mary Budden’s books, an old armchair and the ruins of a girls hostel that held on to the memories of her life in Binsar. Almora (close to Binsar) served as an administrative centre under the British. Almora’s bracing climate and green forests attracted many colonial officers to establish retreats in the adjacent hills. Most high profile officers built estates consisting of large bungalows set within several acres of land surrounded by forest. Over time the estates changed hands and were eventually passed on to Indian owners. On 8th July 1899 General W.I. Mc Gregor authorized his attorney Shyam Lal Shah, to sell his estate to Mary Budden.

Mary Budden Cottage : Each room is kept warm by a fireplace or bukhari. Staff is available to prepare & serve meals and provide other services. Budden Cottage is always warm and inviting. It can comfortably sleep six people plus two children in tastefully furnished rooms that are decorated in the spirit of elegant country living. An intimate front porch, antique kilm carpets, rich pine wood and numerous nooks add to the charm of the cottage, which is available for rent year round as a single unit. Budden Estate has been tended to with love and passion and we hope you will join us here so we may pamper you too.

Rhododenderon Cottage : This beautiful, airy and romantic cottage has beautiful views and sits comfortably in the vicinity of Mary Budden Cottage. Rhododendron Cottage is named after the beautiful red Rhododendron flower that grows wild in the Binsar forest. Though the cottage has been recently constructed and is a modern addition to Mary Budden Estate, it never loses the magic of its old colonial predecessor. It has all the amenities of Mary Budden Cottage and is further enhanced with a larger living room, a cozy library and picture windows to bathe each room in sunlight. Pinewood ceilings, a fireplace or bukhari and elegant furnishings adorn each room to create an ambience of serenity and homelike comfort. The cottage has a front porch, two levels and an inner courtyard, all of which add mystery and intricacy to the beauty of the cottage.