Saturday, June 27, 2015

Weekend trip to Mukteshwar

Fully loaded fruit trees, thatched roof mud houses and welcoming locals... Leaving behind the rush of the city life, we had entered a different world all together. Crisp air filled with pine fragrance welcomed us to this heaven. Just 8 hrs drive from Delhi, situated high in the Kumaon Hills at an altitude of 2286 meters (7500 feet), 51 km from Nainital and 343 km from Delhi, is this beautiful little town MUKTESHWAR.

We started early in the morning and driving through beautiful deodar and pine forest on lovely roads, we reached around 3pm. Our adobe was midst fruit trees some 10 kms away from Mukteshwar in a village called Dadim.

After having delicious lunch and relaxing with a cup of hot tea in the lap of nature we walked to the stream nearby. It took us no time to get into water to wash away the city pollution and stress. Fully refreshed we came back. Night was full of music laughter and gossip. Sitting by the side of fire we made new friends and chatted our hearts out with the old ones.

We woke up to a cool bright morning. It was mid June and the fruit trees were full with fruits ready to eat. Breakfast started and ended with fresh peaches, plums and apricots. I can still feel the taste of those fresh fruits in my mouth.
Mukteshwar is blessed with deodar forest inhabited by various beasts and rare mountain birds and offers a a panoramic view of 22 pristine snow-peaks that include Nanda Devi (25646 ft), Nanda Ghunti (20702 ft), Trishul (23360 ft) and the Panchachuli massif (22650ft). And it was a lovely cool sunny day to explore it all.

First we went to this 350-year-old temple of Shiva, known as Mukteshwar Dham, situated atop the highest point in the region. I sat quietly at back side of the temple from where the whole valley was visible. Those few minutes of silence, while the crisp cool air caressed my face and strong scent of pines and morpankhi went somewhere deep inside, bought back so many childhood memories.
No wonder Noble laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore started writing Gitanjali here at Mukteshwar.

Close to the temple lie these overhanging cliffs, locally known as Chauli-ki-Jali. A narrow lane to the left of the temple stairs took us to those cliffs. There is an excellent view of the valleys from Chaulli ki Jaali, where rocks jut out from the hill face at a bizarre angle. This is a great place to observe eagles and other feathered scavengers as they swoop down at their prey. 

Such a lovely place it was with an excellent view of the valleys below. I just wished there was a little less crowd.
Some of us did rock climbing, rappelling and zip-lining. For me the charm of visiting small town like this lies in enjoying nature, listening to air gushing through deodar forests, watching birds and feeling the silence, so I went deep into the forest and relaxed there.

Rather than going back in car we decided to trek back to our camps. It was a lovely trek of around 4km passing through pine forests. The way was covered with dry pine needles which made it quite slippery and difficult to come downhill. But at the same time it was fun. Short breaks to get the mesmerizing view of the valley, feel the crisp air on our face and enjoy wild berries. 

After a satisfying walk for around 2hrs we could see the village. And the first thing we noticed were fruit trees. We could not resist those rosy red plums hanging from branches and without any thoughts just barged in the garden and enjoyed those fresh fruits. The best part of the area is the locals (owners of these fruit trees). They don't mind you picking a few fruits and eating. God bless these simple souls.
Eating, chatting, clicking and enjoying the pitter-patter of rain that had started, we came back fully satisfied.


Places of interest:
Mukteshwar Dham, The IVRI laboratories, Orchards of Central Institutes of Temperate Horticulture-Regional Station and Snow-peak views from Chauthi jali 

Road route from Delhi:
Delhi - Mohan nagar - Ghaziabad - Gajraula - Moradabad - Haldwani - Kathgodam - Bhimtal - Padampuri - Mukteshwar

Places to stay:
IVRI hostels and the PWD rest house are the oldest ones.
Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) operates a tourist rest house (can be booked from Delhi as well as on phone/wireless from other KMVN guest houses). 
There are several hotels, resorts, guest houses and seasonal tent/hut-based camps in the area.

Tempted to go? Check ChaloLetsGo for a weekend trip with a group of travellers.
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