Mukteshwar: Freedom from humdrum in lap of Himalayas

Exploring soul and landscape at Mukteshwar in Kumaon

Tourism

September 18, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Mukteshwar: Freedom from humdrum in lap of Himalayas

The view of snow-capped peaks from Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) Guest House in Mukteshwar

Mukteshwar is where you can pick an interesting book to read quietly in a corner while savouring hot ginger tea in meditative silence. About 350 km away from the capital, Mukteshwar sits way up in the lap of the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand. A place where one can truly experience eternal peace while witnessing the glorious set of hills, Mukteshwar stands true to its name and liberates one’s soul.

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As I turned the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece Sherlock Holmes, I was constantly distracted by the majestic view upfront. I was looking at the conjoined set of snow-capped mountains, popularly known to the world as Nanda Devi (the bliss-giving goddess). However, my reverie was broken by a call from a friend for breakfast. I sighed and went back inside the guest house. All I wanted was to capture the vast expanse in my nickel-and-dime memory, not being able to ever forget the marvel that I had just witnessed. I had my bite and came back to savour the scene. But then, I desperately craved another cup of tea to get back to my “reverie” again.

I was reading the “Final Problem”, the part of the story where the final broil between Holmes and his greatest foe, Professor James Moriarity took place at the grand Reichenbach falls in Switzerland. I could perfectly sync the story with the view up front. When I looked up, I saw the opulent peaks. It gave me shivers, so I continued reading.

At a distance, I could hear the locals chatting constantly in a hasty dialect that sounded like a fusion of Chinese and Hindi. After questioning a local, it turned out to be Kumaoni, a language spoken in Uttarakhand. I thought they talked that way because they wanted to break the monotony of silence.

Places to visit

Mukteshwar Mahadev Temple

While there are many bends and cuts on the path to the temple, one can never feel hopeless while reaching the top. You can spot the iconic set of peaks from the temple itself. The entrance of the temple leads to two paths: Chauli Ki Jali and the other to Mukteshwar Mahadev Temple. It is said that Lord Shankar had killed a demon here and blessed him with ‘Mukti’ (salvation), hence the name Mukteshwar.

Chauli Ki Jali

According to a myth, if a woman, who is not able to bear a child, passes through the Chauli Ki Jali during Shivratri, the festival of Lord Shiva that is also a celebration of the union between male and female souls, then she is blessed with offspring. It is also famous for many adventure sports including paragliding, ziplining, rock climbing and trekking.

Zero point

To witness the snow-capped mountains, bathing in the rising sun at the break of dawn, one can reach the gates of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), from where one can reach Zero Point easily.

Here, you can have a panoramic view of all the mountains, including India’s second-highest peak, Nanda Devi at 7,816 metres. The Nanda Devi National Park is home to many vulnerable wildlife species including snow leopards, Asiatic black bears, musk deer et al.

Some visitors come equipped with powerful magnification lenses. Not only does it provide an up-close view of the peaks, but also, one can occasionally spot some wildlife here, including the snow leopard.

How to reach?

Mukteshwar is easily accessible by road and rail. The nearest railway station is Kathgodam. Just over 60 km away from Mukteshwar, Kathgodam is well connected to the major cities of India.

From here taxis and buses ply regularly to Mukteshwar. Moreover, it is well-connected by roads too. Buses are available from New Delhi to Nainital, from where one can take a taxi to Mukteshwar.

Where to stay?

The Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) Guest House, run by the local tourism promotion office, provides a comfortable stay for most visitors and also offers a regal view of the peaks. Moreover, it also has a dining hall, where visitors can dine with pleasure. But there are many mid-range alternatives too where one can get a room between INR 3000 to 8000 per day.

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