Mary Budden Estate: A 19th Century Luxury British Property In Binsar, Uttarakhand

  • 17 Jun '22
  • 4:07 pm by Ria Kanal

The ethos of endearing ecotourism comes alive at this luxurious hideaway in the Himalayas; nestled in the verdant forests of Uttarakhand, Mary Budden Estate is remote yet reachable. Putting Binsar on the map, this colonial British estate features a cosmic aura deeply woven into old-world charm. It is situated at a historical energy contour center – The Van Allen Belt which is said to be the pinnacle of mental and physical wellbeing (drawing visionaries like Bob Dylan, Swami Vivekanand, DH Lawrence to their spiritual journeys of awakening). There are several ways to reach this picturesque hamlet, right from taking a helicopter from the nearest helipad, or catching a flight from the Patnagar airport which is a 5-hour drive to the estate’s location.

Mary Budden is situated at the energy center of spiritual awakening in Binsar. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

Named for its founder, this charming estate was established in the late 1800s as a private residence, and was then converted into a school for local orphans. Cut to a hundred years later, when acclaimed photographer and writer Serena Chopra bought the property and turned it into her home in the mountains. While Chopra continues to own it, the property is currently being managed by MRS Hotels and stands as an elegant getaway. Our visit to the property, right from the old-world architecture to the heady mountain views, transported us to the 19th Century.

Mary Budden Estate is spread over 5 acres of land overlooking the primeval forests of Binsar. The property features a mix of rustic wooden cottages and four lodges, where time stands still. Detailed to perfection, the residential spaces boast colonial stone washed walls, striking decor collectibles of the past, and majestic wooden ceilings. They carry a tangible legacy of the 19th Century with certain accessories and pieces of furniture that were hand-picked by Lady Mary Budden herself! Spacious yet warm, the drawing and dining rooms with period fireplaces, logwood accents, and cozy furnishings add to the immersive experience of British living.

Authentic British antiques and 19th Century architecture, all within a wild mountain setting. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

The lodges are classic and expansive, looking out onto the grand views of Binsar’s Wildlife Sanctuary. Each lodge features 4 en-suite bedrooms and 2 separate dining rooms to indulge in the best of the Himalayan cuisine, complete with handpicked antiques, local artisan-made carpets, and provincial decor. Amongst the many sustainable efforts of the property, it is worth noting that the bathrooms use harvested water which is heated through solar panels. The layouts of the cottages and lodges include a mix of quaint patios and al fresco areas fitted with hand-carved wooden seatings.

The lodges feature hints of ancient Oriental design. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate
One of the many outdoor stone patios at the estate. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

The true essence of the estate comes alive while walking down the stoned pathways set amidst Pine trees, the endless forest trails, and postcard-worthy skies. One can walk to different forest points, all of which promise picture-perfect views, stunning seasonal blooms, and the occasional rare bird too! Ornithology enthusiasts can note that the The trails are home to endangered species like the Red-Headed Vulture and The Himalayan Quail.

The dining experiences at Mary Budden Estate are curated perfectly amongst these varied settings where nature plays architect. One of many such feasts is The Himalayan Lunch that offers re-interpreted yet seasonal cuisine of the Himalayan ranges – right from Nepal to the Kumaon regions of Uttarakhand, India. Even the table decor comprises natural wood and fresh Pine tree needles! Indulgent yet refreshingly hyper local, the dishes are prepared from a mix of healthy ingredients like wholesome grains, indegenous leafy vegetables and regional produce. One of our most memorable drinks? A seasonal, all-natural juice made from the famous Rhododendron flower that blooms only between the months of March to May.

Mary Budden Estate hosts a number of unique dining experiences complete with exquisite views. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

Another delightful al fresco experience is the famous Wildcat Brunch that pays tribute to the majestic Leopard’s of the mountains. Amidst the crisp mountain air, this vibrant affair embraces the wildness of the location. Our hosts inform us that the thrill of this meal (apart from the sumptuous spread) lies in spotting a leopard if lucky! This dining experience is inspired by the Japanese “Shabu Shabu” method of cooking, wherein we were meant to make and manage our own hot-pots and live grills. The Wildcat Brunch truly sheds light on the unadulterated Kumaon beauty; the panoramic views of the colonial estate are an added bonus to this immersive culinary journey!

Tranquil al fresco dining spots add to the luxury of the establishment. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

One of Mary Budden’s most unique experiences by night is The Milkyway Dinner wherein you are served quite exquisitely under the stars. Here, traditional mountain cuisine served in gilded dinnerware is accompanied by mystical candlelight and stories of the estate. Throughout Mary Budden, there lies a compelling dialogue between luxury indulgence and authentic mountain traditions.

Provincial setups feature statement pieces in the dining rooms within the cottages. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate
Warm, wooden interiors tie together the narrative of mountain design. Image Credits – Mary Budden Estate

DP Loves –

  • The highly-curated dining experiences that merge fine-dine philosophies with authentic Himalayan culinary traditions
  •  Mapped hikes to peaceful meadows, and forest trails from the property that offer an immersive experience of the sanctuary
  • Unmatched comfort and services in the quaint, British-Era lodges
  • Quick visits to Almora Town, a rustic village set in the heart of Binsar’s Wildlife -Sanctuary. The town offers outstanding views of the majestic forests and Himalayan peaks just 10 kilometers away.