IS IT WORTH VISITING-MUNSIARI
The start of Pre winter always invokes a suppressed desire of stunning views of snow capped Himalayas, trekking in snow up to knees, chilling winds, crystal clear sky and lots more in me and this desire took me to the trekkers paradise of Uttarakhand Munsiari in the last winter 2017. If I describe Munsiari in my words than it would be -Rajma, Panchachuli Peaks, keeda jadi and Khaliya top. There are other things also but to me these matters most. Munsiari is a small town in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and is easily accessible. Munsiari is popular with high altitude trekkers and adventure enthusiast as this place is the base of one of the best destinations Milam, Ralam and Namik glacier and Nanda Devi East Base camp, also it has Khaliya top and the stunning view of Panchachuli Peaks (5 distinct peaks of Himalayas).To be unbiased I would say that Munsiari is not a typical hill station and it will only caters to two types -one who are adventure seeker and the other who embraces calmness, stillness and nature. Now the one who has an imagination of Nainital or Himanchal kind of hill station Munsyari has nothing to offer.
We left for Munsiari on 29th Dec 2017 from Rudrapur city of Uttarakhand and took Almora-Seraghat-Berinag-Thal -Munsiari route. It took us around 12 hrs to reached Munsiari. Now the best thing about the Munsiari is as soon as you come proximity of the town the awe inspiring view of Panchachuli peaks will left you speechless if you are lucky,and we were lucky .We reached Munsiari around 8’O clock amidst little showers, ice- cold wind and darkness but was greeted by the enchanted snow clad moonlit Panchachuli peaks. Our hotel which was technically owner’s house which is separated into decent rooms with toilet attached also with full flexibility to use kitchen is at the starting point of Munsiari which seems to be a best bet. The owner was a very decent guy and he made further arrangements as per our demands also for 31st which includes murga, bonfire and a delicious kumauni dinner. We were totally enervated so decided to hop into room, had little dinner and then lost somewhere in the beautiful dreams of coming day. Next morning my phool patti, chidiya lover friend woke up early for some morning shoots which ultimately breaks my sleep but it was an advantage as I got the opportunity to watch the golden radiance of the peaks by the morning sunshine.
The next day we decided to wander .The first place on our list was the Nanda Devi Temple. Nanda Devi Temple is a small white structure dedicated to goddess Nanda or Parvati at a distance of 3 km from Munsiari town and can be approached by a short 200 metre track from road. One can get some strikingly breathtaking views of the Panchachuli ranges from here.
After blessings of Maa Nanda we decided to look for other places the second on the list was Madkot-Hot water spring, it was suggested by our’s hotel owner so we decided to check it out, but sare plan ki lag gayi.The place was around 20 km from Munsiari town and that to downhill, I don’t know about it’s previous grandiosity but at current there was small ponds where hot water from a small outlet is collected and locals were washing their clothes nothing else.
We bid a bye to the place with damp eyes and steered our vehicle to the next destination which is in Munsiari town “The Tribal Heritage Museum”.
The Museum is actually a private collection of Mr. Sher Singh Pangtey ji and one of its kind which provides a glimpse into the history and culture of Bhotiya Tribe of Uttarakhand. The museum showcases the history, culture, lifestyle, tradition of Bhotia people, the museum holds various items that includes household items, utensils, bags made of yak skin, dried Himalayan flowers, medicinal plants, jewellery’s, traditional dresses, books and the famous Himalayan Viagra Keeda Jadi.
After enriching ourselves with the knowledge in museum we decided to halt and have some food. The food in most of the hotels is the same kind that we generally eat tikki, chowmein, roti sabji etc. I dont think the tourist will have the oportunity to taste local cuisine but in our case we have opportunity because of our home cum hotel and our hotel owner served us with the local varieties.
The last stop of the day was the hike to Thamri Kund.
Well thamri Kund is a small pond located in the forest in Munsiari, it is approximately 10 km before the town .The trail to Thamri kund is well laid out and it is around 3 km from starting point and will take roughly 4~5 hours going back and forth.
After exploring too many places in a day we were completely enervated. So finally got back to hotel, Had dinner and then settled in our beds. The Next day is a exciting one because it was 31st of dec 2017 and the day is reserved for Khuliya top trekking. The next morning was bitterly cold and everything ouside seems to be frozen.
Anyhow we managed to woke up early, geared up had a light breakfast and our home cum hotel owner family packed alloo k gutkey, puri and aachar for the trip which we enjoyed at the top of Khaliya. Khaliya top trek starts from Balanti farms, there is a gate which is marked “Khaliya Top” and is at bend to Munsiari on main road. Well I had an experience of trekking few places before Khaliya so I’d say it is a good beginners trek. There is a snaky kind of rocky well laid out trail that will directly leads you to khaliya and there is no need for any guide. Khaliya top is approximately 5~6 km from starting point and after 3.5-4 km you will find a KMVN rest house other than that there is nothing in the way so keep water bottle, chocolates or whatever one need. khuliya top trek passes through the dense forest so if you are lucky than you will see varied bird and animal species.
The first half of the trek i.e up till KMVN guest house is moderate but uphill climb from KMVN to Khuliya top is little steep. In our case the trail was covered with snow so it had become a difficult climb also I slipped twice or may be thrice. It took us 3 hrs to reach at khuliya top and believe me all those efforts are well paid off. The magnificient panaromic view of the majestic Panchachuli along with other peaks were breathtaking. The view of Munsiari from top was spectacular.
Finally we were at the Khuliya top but there is a catch ,when you reach on Khuliya there are two points one where trishul is inserted and the other one called zero point which is further 1~1.5 km away from the Trishul area which gives you 360° view and we went up till Trishul point.
As the chilling wind at the top started blowing heavily and the weather seems to be unfavorable we decided to start our downhill trek and completed it in 2 hours. It was an ecstatic moment for all of us and a best way to bid a buy to 2017. The day was Our’s as well as Night as party is yet to started.
The Next day was 1st of 2018, it was a beautiful morning filled with hopes and accomplishments, we packed our bags, paid our greetings, regards as well as 3 day bill to our home come hotel owner and left Munsiari. On the way we stopped at Birthi falls for a quick breakfast, shoot some pictures near fall and the steered towards our addresses.
After the journey what I have to say is:
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.'”