Uttarakhand Tour: A Story Of a Gypsy Soul
We live a life where we hardly get time to spend with yourself. In the fast going life, all we do is to earn bread, take some stress, and then again stress about not living a life your soul has always craved for. There is no doubt how the gipsy soul inside us wants to Travel India and wanders the places hidden amidst of lush and sleep under the stars. Well, I always had a fantasy to go on a trip with friends, a random trip where we just pack our bags and escape our lives for a week or so and dive into the majestic nature.
Being born in India has many perks, it gives us the opportunity to live various cultures, taste the lip-smacking cuisine, and explore beaches, mountains, and not forgetting rich cultural heritage. For sure, India is a sub-continent and people may not find worth to wander, but for me, India is filled up with many hidden places which demand to be explored with friends. My heart desiring for a trip (here it means, a random plan to see and know the beauty of Uttarakhand) and desperately needed a break from the stressed and fast life. So, without giving a second thought, I and my friend had decided to escape from the hustle-bustle lives and spend some time doing things we all always love; Travelling India. Every one of us desired to travel as “Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara”, but very few of us travel like that in real life. I cannot forget the day when Kishor, Manoj, Ali, Ajay, and I decided to take a ten day Uttarakhand tour. We just packed up all the essentials like Maggi, oil, utilities, tents, raw materials, and went to explore the divine nature of Uttarakhand. It was nine at night when we took Innova and started our journey just after taking dinner from Bahadurgarh in Haryana. It was “our souls was screaming to go to the mountain, explore the divinity of Himalayas, lit a bonfire in the middle of nowhere, watch the sunrise, drive overnight, and live life; be it forever or for the week it doesn’t matter. Starting from Haryana, we made our way to Moradabad taking NH24 and after driving for approximately for long 8 to 9 hours (and if you’re the one who is driving continuously, I hope you feel my pain here *wink*), we reached to near the river Kosi; it is one of the oldest rivers in India and a place which made me feel fresh even after a long drive. The area was surrounded by some farms which gave us a chance to gulp some fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, but who wanna miss fresh, so we packed some of them for our long journey.
After a halt of 1 hour so we again started our journey to the mountains and the feeling that was rushing to me cannot be explained. There is a quote “You are not in the Mountains, the Mountains are in You,” I felt the same while driving through the curvy roads covered with lush and treating us with mesmerizing views in hills of Uttarakhand and we made our way to Mukteshwar to meet our friend who was at Club 10 Pine lodge, and I must say it was an amazing place to stay with friends. The location of the lodge is perfect; it is surrounded by the valley in somewhere between Bhimtal and Bhowali. To those who want to enjoy the majestic views of Kumaon range can choose this hotel in Mukteshwar to stay.
“Mountains are calling, and I must go.”
If you are this kind of person, then nothing can be a better option than to escape life for a week or so and making yourself comfortable in the midst of nature. This accommodation near Mukteshwar is the best place to stay with friends and family. This holiday home is located in an offbeat location, has two suites and four deluxe rooms to provide a mesmerizing experience to their valuable guests. Whether you want housekeeping service during your stay or want to enjoy a homely food while eating the first meal of the day sitting at a place surrounded by nature, this lodge offers everything at affordable prices.
After a short break, we again started our journey towards Mukteshwar and came across to the solitude village Lately Bunga. I have gone to many, but this one was special to me, maybe because I had done and seen things like an orchid farm, apple, humans, and other fruit farms which were filled with the pleasant aroma of those fruits that made me test my photography skills. *wink*
During the journey of day 1, we have done so many things like douching in flowing water which made us feel refreshed and sleeping under the stars. As the stars were shining and darkness was covering the sky, after discussing the route plan, we decided to place our tent near the river and parked our car nearby in a way that we can quickly reach to it in any situation, lit a fire to protects us from wildings, and here we were lucky to find a tree log waiting for us. Trust me; there couldn’t be anything much adventurous than sleeping under the stars in a jungle between wildings. After we binge on our food, we sat around the bonfire and “men will be men” we had our drinks, watched a movie to stay awake, and decided to sleep in 3:2 ratio. Thank God, I got a chance to give a rest to me and slept for 2 hours until there was some someone shouting “there is wild outside a tent at 3 in the morning.” This is how our day 1 and 2nd night of the trip ended and day two has arrived with a chilling breeze.
Started a day 2 with Parantha, milk, and tea:
Here, you might be thinking how parantha has appeared in the middle of the hills or near river. Well, as I have already told we came with all the preparation; we had raw materials, pickle, gas, cylinder, and the tea craving made us manage milk somehow (after exploring nearby villages, finally we got a milk vendor from where we bought 2 kg milk). Imagine sitting beside a bonfire in the chilled morning and having a delicious breakfast; no meal can be tastier than this.
While we were having breakfast, a group of fisherman came for fishing and there an adventure junkie inside us woke up and made us join them, but our hard luck, we failed to catch fish, yes not even one! Well, not to be disappointed this was an experience I am gonna cherish a lifetime. Again, the soul inside us was screaming to take a dip into the river filled with freezing water but the flow and the depth of the river were deep which made us stay outside. Then, there came an idea, and we took out a rope, tied it parallel on a boulder, and a group of 5 crazy friends (WE) dipped in the river without fear of getting lost.
In all the happening and adventure, time flew like a breeze when one of us realized its late afternoon, and we have to leave for Munsiyari. As Munsiyari was coming closer, the scenario was changing; the valleys, mountains, breeze, and everything was becoming more charming and picturesque than ever. In search of Birth waterfall, we took a halt at a tiny fall, which was like eye capturing in amidst green. But, it couldn’t make us stop thinking about the Birth fall, and every one of us was eager to reach to it and see the hypnotising beauty of the place. While we were lost in the thoughts of vistas, there we see a fall finally from far-off and heart start pounding to go near and dive into it. It was just 250 meters away from the road, and it took us to climb few stairs to reach the heavenly beautiful fall. The feelings are rushing inside us and it felt like someone from the top is pouring gallons of milk. Yes! It was milk white and a perfect place to rejuvenate the tiring souls captured inside our body. After reaching to this tourist place near Munsiyari, all I could wish “why this isn’t somewhere near to Delhi?” we sat and relaxed us for a journey, and few of us took a bath in the small pond near fall.
We again started our journey towards Munsiyari, and as soon as we were reaching near, the mountains were turning from green to white. Yes, they were covered with a blanket of snow, and the view was satiating our eyes, mind, and soul. The temperature was going down as we were going up and the chilled breeze has turned into freezing air. As the sun was going down and the city was coming closer, we decided to stay, but the idea of staying in solitude didn’t work at this place and made us move little further towards the city to find a place.
At 5 in the evening, we reached to the beautiful city Munsiyari, explored the city and decided to pace our tent in an open jungle to enjoy the nature at its best. But, nature had some other plans for us, and it started raining to freeze us in the chilly nights of the hill station. What will happen to you is I say “at 3 in the morning, you hear a noise of some animal in the middle of the jungle”, I am sure you would have run away from the place. This happened but thank god; it was a flock and shepherd was taking it to snow-covered mountains to reside with them. It was a little shock to us, but this is life, one has to go through roughs to get something. The sun was rising, and the panoramic view of the place was breathtaking. After a relaxing night, our stomach was hungry, and we started preparing our breakfast. The delicious paranthas, Maggie, and omelette; believe me, waking up in the jungle and making food is one of the feelings that wanderers will love to get, and this place in Munsiyari is best to go through this sense. This is how the day 2 and 3rd night of our journey has ended that gave me unforgettable experience with my friends.
Before going further with my ten day Uttarakhand tour, introducing you to Munsiyari is a must. It is a small town in the Pithoragarh district, located at the height of 2300m in between the border of Nepal and Tibet. It is known for its pleasant weather all over the year and for the splendid beauty of nature offering captivating views of the Himalayan Ranges. As soon as you come in Munsiyari range, it will introduce you to snow-clad mountains which made it famous as Mini Kashmir of Uttarakhand. The snow-capped Himalayan range in Munsiyari is a group of five peaks known as Panchachuli. This glorious view of Himalayan field seems like a chimney and is amongst the famous treasure amidst the peaks of Nandakot, Nandadevi, Rajarambha, and Nepal Himalayan range. Even from the distance of few kilometres, this place looks breathtaking and showers one’s soul with thrilling vibes of reaching there. This small village is a base of three glaciers Milam, Namik, and Ralam glaciers.
There is a saying “be a traveller, not a tourist.” Someone said this because to know a place and its beauty; one needs to explore it, indulge into activities offered there, binge on the delicious lip-smacking food of the site, know the history, and stay at least for a day. Munsiyari is surely a small place, but it knows how to satisfy the thirst of a traveller to try new things. Whether you’re staying there for a day or making a trip to Munsiyari for 4-5 days, it will offer tons of activities to do in Munsiyari. It is known as a base camp for mountaineers provides comfort to nature lovers, and the perfect choice for glacier enthusiast as the place provides the gateway to three glaciers.
If your stay in Munsiyari is for one or two days, then a short trek of 3 km to Nanda Devi can make your blood rushing fast through your veins. As you reach the Nanda Devi Temple in a backdrop, you’ll witness the striking scene of the Panchachuli Mountains. As you savour the glorious beauty of the hills, do not forget to visit Betuli Dhar, Thamari Kund, and Birthi Fall, cuddles with the refreshing breeze that rejuvenates your mind, body, and soul. It was a small trek to be done during a one-day stay in Munsiyari. During the trekking season, any adventure soul shouldn’t miss the trek Namik glacier, Ralam glacier, and Milam glacier. During these treks, you may get a chance to witness the origin of waterfalls and picturesque views of sunset and sunrise that cannot be found anywhere else.
There is another trek, Khalia top which is a proven delight for first-timers. During Khalia top trek, the glimpse of immense mountains will take your breath away, the chirping of the birds behind will play a role in music while you’re falling more in love with nature. The same spot in winters turns into popular skiing destination in Uttarakhand and the panoramic views of snow-covered mountains will work as a coffee for your tired soul. After completing treks and having some adventure, exploring the streets and market of Munsiyari is a next thing to do. For some shopping of Pashmina shawls and local stuff, head towards the Darkot market. Also, there are few things that you must bring back from there as a remembering of your trip like a hand-woven carpet of Himalayan saplings that cannot be found in cities.
Food is the next thing in the list of traveller which he/she doesn’t want to miss. Munsiyari is a small scenic village where finding a restaurant with multiple cuisines is a task next to impossible. Sometimes, it is good to dump the sophistication and being a traveller taste the roadside food and local restaurant to know the taste better. Here, at Munsiyari, you can search for some local dhaba to treat your taste buds with some authentic Kumaoni food.
Not forgetting the history of Munsiyari behind because history helps to know the place deeply. The small toy-town village is situated on the ancient silk route from Tibet. If you ever believe in Hindu Mythology then it is said “Pandavas started their journey to heaven from Munsiyari”, and the enormous Panchachuli peaks here represents the churches where Panchali had cooked food for her five husbands.
It was little about most scenic small village Munsiyari that I thought every traveller must be aware of. Still, there is much more to know and explore in serenity. So, if you’re desperate to know more about Munsiyari then without thinking twice, take a tour to Munsiyari.
Now, moving ahead with my journey which made me awestruck as soon I witnessed the splendid panoramas of natural beauteousness of Munsiyari, I realised there is nothing can be more satisfying than spending a day at such a heavenly place. Someone said right “all good things are wild and free”, this journey has proved it right till now. Here, we were joined by few friends and made our way towards Munsiyari town; to explore the places to visit and while going down the lane there we saw an unusual snake-type flower. We found ourselves lucky for not crossing the way with wildings of the hills. The flora, as well as fauna of this hill station, is unique; there is another unique plant in this hilly area that is known as “biccho dank”, and if someone touches it the pain will be equal as the scorpion sting, but the serene valleys around you will surely make you forget the pain. Yeah! The place is this much beautiful and glorious that even a two hours continuous to hilltop would seem like you’re lost in the meadows, walking towards your dream destination because you now the final reach will quench your thirst and will give never-ending comfort to your soul. As far as your eye can see, your eyes will strike at one thing, mountains covered in lush and snow. Gigantic snow-covered peaks in all the direction made it a perfect vista for a nature lover. At that moment, all we were able to do was capture the beauty in our camera and take it along with us.
Nature is the best therapy to cure your tired body, mind, and soul! The rich flora and fauna of Munsiyari are amazing, fields are filled with Pine, Rhododendrons, and Deodar trees, and witnessing the birds like Raven, Wagtail, Falcon, and Partridge Teeter will surely make you see some unique species. As we were exploring the valleys, the beaming rays of the sun were kissing the glorious white peaks creating a view as there is a huge white pearl shining at the top of the mountains. No matter how much I try to define a panorama in words, my words will lack to describe the beauty of Munsiyari. While the exploration, we didn’t realise how the time has flown, and it was a time to go back to our place. As my feet were walking towards the town and away from the heavenly view, my heart was wrenching to leave that area. Finally, we have reached to our destination by evening, and soon we decided to roam around the main town, and the only thing that my heart realized was “at every corner of Munsiyari is beautiful and mesmerizing, there are no such places like this.” We hadn’t spent much time here, but the place has already seemed so familiar to each of us that we can spend days without thinking of going back. As the sun was hiding in the mountains and the moon was peeping out from his home, the charm and allure of the place were getting deeper and enchanting. Where there are men how can anyone not think of partying hard. We started to make all the arrangements for the party all night but the last night rain made us worried. We were lucky to find a helping soul who offered us a room to spend the night.
We all have heard about the town with no doors, that place came to my mind as soon I saw the space we were going to spend the whole night. There were walls, roof, but no doors; still, we were very thankful to a forester who offered us a shelter to sleep in peace away in the middle of the forest. After all the travelling hunger pangs were increased, and our bellies were demanding a homely food. Thank God, Manoj was there to cook for us and treat us with some. At lone places in the jungle, we had best meals of our life. Then comes a time to sleep, the car was parked on the main road which we thought isn’t safe so with a mutual consent two of us slept in the car and other were sleeping at the room. This is how our 3rd day and 4th night came to an end in Munsiyari with all the chaos, beauty, calmness, and peace in nature.
How the night has gone and morning arrived, we didn’t come to know, maybe because we all were so tired. With the chirpings of the birds and the breeze entering through the doorway, morning knocked the door, and with this, our 4th-day journey has started. As soon as I took a step outside of the space, I felt refreshed, refreshed after watching the spectacular morning view. The sun is rising from the behind of Panchachuli peaks, and the first rays of sun falling on the snow were making it look more beautiful. The view and the sun had the power to fill anyone with confidence to face the ups and downs of life. I have heard, morning in the mountains is beyond the imagination, and the vista proved it right. What I was seeing and feeling is beyond to explain, all I can say to you is Visit Munsiyari ones to onlook the morning views of Panchachuli peaks. That morning, we decided to leave without having breakfast and follow the path without worrying about the destination. Sometimes in life, we should support a path or a road without thinking about the destination; you never know what you may come across with on your unknown journey. While everyone was lost in their thoughts and I was focused on my driving, there happens a blast in the mountains. This made us worried, and we stopped to find out what has happened. It was some construction work few meters away from us; the rocks were fallen as they were making a road for peddlers and travellers of the place. The sight and the work made us excited, so much excited that we took a halt to explore the area and have some fun with workers. Finding a crane in the middle is so much fun and not clicking pictures, crazy ones will not be fair with a crane.
I was thinking while moving forward that spotting a river at such place will be a special experience. And nearby, there was a river flowing called Kaali River. It steals our glare and we headed towards it. The sound of speedy flow of the river was making our heart pound and the water rushing through the rocks was making our blood flow fast while we were stepping towards it. At one place, suddenly my feet stopped on finding out a bird of mountain Partridge Teeter. This actually is a most loved bird amongst the non-veg people. The hunter (occasionally one) in me woke up to shoot it down. Although I am not a shooter, the unique bird made me. I took out my pellet gun to take a shot, but oops, I missed it. I must say a bird was clever enough to escape a gunshot, but we thought it was struck by the shot so we ran towards to see. Yes! Many of you will think how it is even possible when Grey francolin or Partridge Teeter don’t yet exist now, but here if the proof of their existence; the picture of a beautiful bird.
Driving where the road is taking us and asking locals for the way helped us to reach a point where we relaxed for some time and tried hands-on fishing, and again continued our journey. It is true that driving through the mountains will never disappoint you as you are unaware when you can spot a waterfall, but driving over them is surely something you cannot find everywhere. As we were moving ahead, each step was making us astounded by the natural beauty as well as the human-made work. The rock formation I spotted at some place, the road construction over the waterfall, and everything there made by BRO was simply astonishing work of them. As we came nearer to the waterfall, we stepped out of our car and enjoyed the mesmerizing view of the Mother Nature and nothing can be better than gulping a natural mineral water directly from the fall. While moving further with our journey, there was so much to decided and to see that might make you wonder “how does it still present?”, Just like a handmade bridge we crossed which was constructed years back and now it can be crossed by one vehicle at a time and at the same time we were looking for a green land to place our tents. The only thing that was going through our mind while crossing the bridge for fear as it involves 100% risk. We wanted adventure, we got, and doing that has filled us with tons of feelings at the same time.
After all the fun, adventure, and serenity, our hunger pangs were increasing and it was uncontrollable. At one side few of us were setting up to cook and at another side, Anand and Manoj were playing chess. After a delicious Maggi with bread and milk, we relaxed for some time and took a stroll to nearby hills. We were tired and had no plans to climb, but none of us knows what made us climb mountains when our body was demanding a rest. Maybe, our mind was in need of some lush and breeze which can rejuvenate it for an upcoming journey. The light of the sun was dimming and the moon was coming out from his home. The cold air was getting chiller as the temperature was going down. Finally, a time came when we had found our dream place to place our tents. It was a green land near the river where the sky was clear and has covered our tent as a blanket. The twinkling stars seem like fairy lights and the moon was our lamp. This was the best place we have found to spend a night in a tent. To stop the way of chilling breeze, we placed our car in front of the tents and went inside to sleep. How the 5th night of our journey had passed in the cold we didn’t come to know.
You might be thinking about I’ve told you everything about the day four except the place where this all has happened. It was some Madkot near Munsiyari. The sun was rising and we woke up with the breath-taking view of mountains, river, and green fields. The morning was beyond perfect; the only imperfect thing was “extreme cold” as we were not prepared for that. As the morning arrived, we again have started our tour with exploring the jungle and the nearby places. It was so cold that morning that we decided not to bath but which soul can deny dipping into water spring. While we were exploring the nearby areas, there we crossed our path with Warm Gandhak Potash Pond. It is believed by villagers that the pond helps to cure cervical and skin issues, it might be true, but our body surely was much relaxed like never before. The dip in warm water that is surrounded by scenic views pleasuring your souls is kind of once in a lifetime moment.
What it feels like living amidst of nature? I was thinking this while gazing the beautiful vistas and waterfalls that were mesmerizing me each time I saw them. And the house in the mountains is something that makes me gaze it long and valleys of Munsiyari treated me with such views. In the middle of nowhere spotting a mountain, the house has become my favourite job to do while wandering on feet. This place was no less than a fairy tale, I can spend a week here without a phone, Wi-Fi, and the internet, and all we wanted to do was to enjoy the moment at its best, so we started playing badminton. Now, don’t think how the hell badminton come from nowhere just like a Bollywood movie because in our stock we kept this too. After spending hours and capturing the moments in our camera, we started our journey following the Kaali Nadi. I don’t know where we are, where we were going, but the trip has filled me with positivity and somewhere I did not want it to end soon. Keep a memento of a place which made you fall in love with the place. So, we took few Himalayan bamboo trees for our gardens while moving towards some unknown destination because we truly believe in “just go with the flow”, and we were going with the flow of the river. It took us at some place called Jauljibi. At that moment we realized we had come near to Indo-Nepal border. It is a place where the two countries are divided by river and Jauljibi is a bazaar on both sides of the river that is connected through a suspension bridge over the Kali River, and this place is famous for the annual trade fair. This is located near pristine Dharchula.
There is no doubt how travelling in mountains can make you come across to the names that you’ve never heard. Dharchula was the same to us maybe because it is not so famous place in Uttarakhand. It is a remote town in the state which is untouched by travellers and has tons of scenic places to explore. The town is being celebrated for its unique traditions and culture which are the blend of Kumaoni and Shauna communities, the major ethnic groups of the state. The localities here are very shy and polite which will surely help anyone to know their culture and even can get a chance to live it for a day. This remote town is blessed with a variety of fauna and flora, from pine, apple, oak, and deodars to wild animals like leopard, foxes, bears, and deer can be found here. Not just this, one can also spot plenty of dry fruits here. Dharchula is adorned with many beautiful attractions and is an amazing tour for one day. A morning here will not be more beautiful than sunrise views from Kali river banks that make a wonderful start of the day. It is an ideal place for people looking for solitude and wishes to spend a peaceful day in nature. There are few tourist attractions in Dharchula which shouldn’t be missed even if you are visiting for one day. In your one day tour, you can visit Chikrila Dam, Om Parbat, Jauljibi, and a quick stroll to Askot Sanctuary will make your day. When you are visiting there, don’t forget to get your hands on local delicacies which are famous for tourists and the souvenirs which are a must. Dharchula is one of the important camping sites for Kailash Mansarovar route.
Few kilometres from Dharchula, there is a starting point at the height of 5334 meters of the holy Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The traverse point is known as Lipulekh pass that comes under Chaudans valley of Dharchula and is an international mountain pass amongst India, Nepal, and China. The pass was used by traders, pilgrims, and mendicants to travel between Nepal and Tibet in ancient time and the Lipulekh pass is open from June-September every year for cross-trade between China and India. As it is an international mountain pass, only Indians are permitted to trek to Lipulekh but that can proceed after the permission of the Government and foreigners are allowed only till Budhi on the trek.
This was little about Dharchula and the traverse point of pilgrimage Kailash Mansarovar. And we have had decided to visit the pass but after a discussion with locals, we came to know that phone networks don’t work there so we stopped and had stopped at the point that is 67km away from Munsiyari. When you are travelling, you must forget all the worries, become a traveller, and enjoy each moment of your tour. Besides being hungry, we were in the mood to turn in Dravid and Tendulkar, maybe there were no boundaries and one has to just strike the ball as far as they can. The time was passing and we didn’t realize when the clock struck 4 in the late afternoon. After having a hot cup of tea, we decided to go to Askot, one of the famous places in Dharchula to visit. Askot is known for its famous Askot Sanctuary that was established in 1986 to protect endangered Musk Deer. The town is located at an elevation of 3629 ft and the two renowned skiing destination of Askot Panchauli and Chiplakot forms the backdrop of the town. This Himalayan town has Pithoragarh to the south, Tibet to the north, Pithoragarh to the west, and Nepal to the east. There are many places to visit near Askot like Munsiyari, Mount Abbott, and Pithoragarh, also it has some of the famous skiing destinations of the country including Panchauli and Chiplakot. The famous Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary is at an elevation of 5400 ft and has a wide variety of fauna such as Bengal Tiger, civet, Himalayan brown bear, snow cock, serow, and more. The sanctuary is rich in flora too and one can find eucalyptus, teak, and other herbs and shrubs. This is a perfect and a popular destination amongst the nature lovers as well as wildlife tourists. After the visit to Askot, we took a road not taken by many which get ends after few kilometres. That’s the place this time where we have decided to place our tent and spent our night. As the night was chilled, we lit a bonfire there and had a chit-chat with locals who stay just opposite to our tent. It was already dark so we decided to have some men party and the locals have also accompanied us while telling us tales of the area. This is how the evening of the fifth day has ended and how our 6th night has ended we didn’t come to know.
Last night we slept peacefully and with the bird’s chirpings, another beautiful morning in the mountain has arrived. The morning began with an adventurous jungle walk and exploring unspoiled and untrailed routes of the Himalayan jungle on feet is the best one can do. The rich bio-diversity, majestic woodlands, and everything around will give you a chance to come closer to nature. After spending some time in wilderness and nature, we decided to go back and continue our journey on the road not taken by everyone. We took an offbeat road to Pithoragarh. There is no surprise for us now to find a waterfall in our way. Waterfalls now are usual to us but still, they hold power to make us drench into them. After all the fun, the waterfall, the panoramic views, driving through hills, spotting the first wilding in these six days, wandering into the woods and exploring other sides of the place, and the Kumaoni wedding. Yes! You read right, we have got a chance to witness and be a part of the traditional Kumaon wedding. What else can be a better way to know the locals, traditions, and their culture to make your trip worth? We were lucky and thankful to a friend who called himself a Robinhood Pandey who insisted us to stay and wander the nearby areas. The rituals, ceremonies, unique Himalayan traditions, who wouldn’t want to tie a knot in pahadi style; this was the only thought which was going back in my mind while I was into the fun going at the wedding. With this, we moved forward to our destiny Pithoragarh, a small town which is famous as a trekking destination.
Before I tell you about my journey, I would want to introduce you to the scenic place that lies in the lap of Mother Nature, Pithoragarh. It is located at the elevation of 1851 meters and is surrounded by spectacular valleys. The place is blessed with natural beauty that makes it a perfect holiday destination for those who are finding peace away from the hustle-bustle of the city. Be it a solo traveller or a group of nature lovers, Pithoragarh will never fail to amaze anyone with the best views of Himalayan range as one can glimpse the glorious peaks like Panchchuli, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nandakhat falls, and the magnificent view of Appi range in Nepal. Not just peaks, the district is blessed with some of the finest glaciers including Ralam, Milam, Sunder Dhunga, Namik, Balati, and Meola which will surely leave anyone spellbound with the views. The velvet-green grass on the grounds and mountains and the cloud play above in the sky makes each moment in Pithoragarh majestic. Often the place is referred as the Little Kashmir because of its exotic natural beauty; maybe it is the reason behind its pleasant weather across the year making it a perfect vacation place to rejuvenate the soul and keep it away from the stressed life of the city. The place isn’t only famous for nature but is also famous for its historical significance. It was a centre of power during the rule of the Chand Kings in the Kumaon range.
There are quite places which might interest you if you are a history lover like Pithoragarh Fort which was constructed by Gurkhas dated back in the 18th century and the Kapileshwar Mahadev a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Other places like Gangolihat, Thal Kedar Temple, Dhway Temple, Nakuleshwar, Arjuneshwar temple are placed to visit in Pithoragarh. One can include nearby places like Dharchula, Askot, Munsiyari, Gangolihat, Devidhura, Champawat, Chaukori, Rameshwar, Chota Kailash, Punyagiri temple, and other nearby places to Pithoragarh in their tour. The town also offers ample of things to do. One can indulge in some adventure activity like trekking as this place is a base for many treks or one can allow them to know the serenity of the hidden villages and the people living there by taking a village tour in Pithoragarh. If you want something more than trekking, then paragliding makes a perfect choice which will give you an opportunity to look around the town with the bird’s eye view and come closer to nature. In an autumn season, one may visit a famous fair Jauljibi to gather some unique local stuff like copper pots, woollens, and others. Also, there is another famous festival Kanar-Chhiplakot and ritualistic festivals like Beas, Darma Valley, and Chaudas are the ones which happen once in 12 years and shouldn’t be missed.
As soon as we reached Pithoragarh, we saw a milestone that made us drive little further. You might be thinking how milestone can make anyone drive further. Well, it was for Jageshwar that is just 137 km away from Pithoragarh and takes 3 hours to reach there. Until now we were truly mesmerized by the majestic natural beauty but the thought of tranquil and mystical setting of Jageshwar had made us see it. It is a halt en-route to the known pilgrimage Mount Kailash. It was a bit hot in Jageshwar so we decided to stay in the open and enjoy the nature’s AC with scenic views, but the locals informed that the area is little danger to stay out because of wildings and we have also crossed our path with them. The environment and the surrounding were so amazing that we couldn’t resist from placing our tents in an open field surrounded by velvety-grass and lit a bonfire to spend the seventh night in the lap of nature.
Next day, we started our journey with Jageshwar Dham. The uniqueness of old Jageshwar is its cluster of the temple that depicts ancient design and culture. Jageshwar Dham has two parts: new Jageshwar or Bal Jageshwar and old Jageshwar or Vridha Jageshwar. Bal Jageshwar is dedicated to Child Shiva and Vridha Jageshwar is made for Old Shiva. Folks who visit there generally visit Bal Jageshwar and forget to explore the serenity of the old one. It is believed that Vridh Jageshwar has some sort of energies, maybe which is the reason I was so attracted to visit that temple. The only thing that I didn’t like was to the bath as without bathing no one is allowed to step-in in Vridha Jageshwar and I am glad I took a right decision by choosing old Jageshwar to visit. As soon as stepped inside the temple, I was stunned by its beauty and the only thought that was going back in my mind was about its architecture and design, and I was wondering how it was made. It was so amazing, unique, and the ancient touch that still can be felt somewhere can make anyone time travel. Earlier, Jageshwar was en route to pilgrimage Kailash Yatra as there was no proper way constructed to reach to Mount Kailash. You might be thinking why the temple was divided into two. The reason or the myth behind this is “Lord Shiva used to come to this place for meditation and as the women of the village came to know about his arrival, they left their house chores and stepped forward to had a look at meditating Lord Shiva. The men of the village were infuriated with this and they visited the place to see the sadhu who captivated their women. Seeing this uproar, Shiva decided to be in his child look to avoid the hassle that was about to happen.” This is the reason behind happening of Bal Jageshwar, it was a place where he took his child form.
I decided to explore Vridha Jageshwar and it is all about ancient times, designs, architecture, positivity, peace, and everything else that can make your soul “a peaceful soul” for a moment. There are hundreds of statues and approximately 124 temples in Jageshwar Dham and the deodar trees with Jata Ganga enhance the beauty of the place. Mostly, the temples are adorned with stone lingams with august images around the altar. Apart from the stone images, there are some asthadhatu statues that add beauty to them and the rarest of rare in North India Ekamukhalinga can be found here. Words cannot define the beauty of the temple complex and the surrounding. The environment isn’t just peaceful to stay but makes it an important spot to connect your body and soul through meditation. The Jageshwar Temple has several temples but there are few main temples which shouldn’t be missed during the visit that includes Chandi-ka-Temple, Dandeshwar Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Kuber Temple, Nau Durga, Surya Temple, Navagarh Temple, and Pyramidal Shine. Amongst all the temple, Mrityunjay is the oldest where the Dandeshwar temple is the largest shrine. During the Mughal era, many of the shrines were destroyed, but the remainings of them hold power to attract and reflect the positive energies of the place. In simple words, you still can feel the presence of Shiva there. Everything there was so mesmerizing that we didn’t realize where the needles were in clock and as we saw it was already late afternoon and was the time to move ahead with our journey. We were out, away from homes for a week, and so we decided to end our tour here and drive back to Mukteshwar. We didn’t get a chance to spend even a single night in Mukteshwar; I decided to not to press brakes of a car before Mukteshwar. The scenic beauty of Mukteshwar has always attracted me and I always wanted to spend a night covered with a blanket of stars in Mukteshwar.
After driving for approximately 8 to 9 hours en routing jungles, rivers, waterfalls, and everything else that tried its best to tempt us with the beauty, we have finally reached Mukteshwar, final night of our tour in between nature. We decided to stay in the open and not to go the best place to stay in Mukteshwar, Club Ten Pine Resort. There was a fruit orchard farm nearby and we had parked our car on the road and climb uphill to do the arrangements of the night. All we wanted was to enjoy the second last night of this trip in nature and make unforgettable memories. Not just waking up in the lap of Mother Nature, but cooking a delicious food amidst gives you a feeling of another world. The bonfire, food, drinks, breeze, starts, velvet-green grass, and friends; the night cannot be more amazing this one. How the time has passed, we fell asleep, and the morning arrived none of us knows. How the last night of the camping tour in Uttarakhand has ended and the last day has arrived, none of us realized. The tour was filled with fun and adventure, and we didn’t wish it to end and go back to the chaotic life we left behind for a week or so.
As the morning arrived and the sun has welcomed us with warm rays and valour of its beauty, we woke up and as the sun was coming out, the fiery kiss of the sun to the sky had made the scene beyond picture perfect. The morning cannot be more beautiful than this, trust me! We decided to explore the unseen and unexplored place in Mukteshwar and started our day with some energetic and adventure trek in a jungle of Mukteshwar. As we were moving forward, nature was throwing a delicious surprise to us. How will you feel if an apple suddenly falls on you as it fell on Eve’s head? You’ll be surprised if it happens in a plain area, but in Mukteshwar, you must just pick, wipe, and grub on the mouth-watering fresh apple. The jungles of Mukteshwar will throw such apples, apricot, local fruit Kaafal, and other juicy fruits on you now and then. As we decided to wander in unexplored places of Mukteshwar, we have come across with some 3 or 4 hidden waterfalls which were not explored by tourist till now and I was thankful to God and humans too for not exploring them. The beauty of these places was untouched. The rays of sun refracting from the crystal clear water were making it look more beautiful. As far as your eyes can see, the only things that you’ll find are lush and mountains that make the place best to enhance your nature photography and so we had done. All of us had tried their hands and clicked endlessly to capture the best of the place. Pretty things like flowers especially if they are mountain flowers cannot be resisted from capturing and the unique ones like dandelion which cannot be found on the plains. The tiny droplets on the feathery petals of dandelions add tons of beauty to a simple white wishing flower.
The last day of our tour was coming to an end and all we wanted is to explore as much as we can. So, we asked our friend Nayal to come along with us and make us see things which shouldn’t be missed at any cost. So, he took us to a place near his home, a place that was filled with most amazing fruits and flowers in Mukteshwar. It was some sort of a village in Mukteshwar where we picked fresh fruits from farm to devour; followed with a delicious lunch that includes a local home-cooked food at his home. With all the wandering in hidden places in Mukteshwar and exploring the orchid farm in Mukteshwar our last day in Uttarakhand was coming to an end and the sun was slowly hiding behind the mountains and the moon was coming out of his home. We packed all our stuff and were ready to go back to our usual life. As we were moving towards our starting destination and leaving Mukteshwar behind, I wasn’t really happy because this place has taken my heart and satiated my soul for all the good reasons. Mukteshwar is a place that everyone must visit. Be it a nature lover, a loner, or an adventure junkie; it will never ever going to disappoint anyone with its hidden beauty and explored places in Uttarakhand.