I am glad to say Mukteshwar hasn’t changed much; it continues just to be a “point” which can be ticked off in the excursions list from Nainital. Standing on the top of the Chauri Jhali gazing into the vistas of the Almora valley and the tremendous view it commands.
I don’t know much of suicidal tendencies, but when you are at the edge of the peak, I do sometimes have the urge to jump in the abyss. Over the years when its cousins across distance have been flooding in with more tourist, more hotels, more taxis.
Mukteshwar is more like the hippie village of Kasar Devi which remains known to few.The beauty of the place is unparalleled to any of its cousins. Jim Corbett himself fell in love with the place in 1929 when he came to Mukteshwar in search of a Man eating tiger.
This pearl of a place would continue to be hidden from the world, it might well be just a trek route from Bhowali, if not for a disease Congenation in Pune. The Pune city was too crowded to conduct any research on the subject, Mukteshwar, which was undergoing a cattle disease (Rinderpest).
The disease link between the two places and the cool zephyr Mukteshwar offers to its visitors worked in the small hamlet’s favor, and Imperial Bacterial Laboratory was set up in 1893. After Independence, it was named Indian Veterinary Research Institute.
What to do in Mukteshwar?
At a height of 7,500 ft above sea level, filled with lush green forests, Mukteshwar is as good as it gets. What one needs to do is get rid of the car and walk into the rhododendrons and pine forest. Following trails which often leads to nowhere. It is a good place to get lost and wander.
Just before you hit Chowfulli a road leads to the Methodist Church; the road has been well carved out now. Methodist Church is one of the places to visit in Mukteshwar that offers the architecture of the church as simple and elegant much like the people inhabiting the small town. The Church has been well preserved with a tin roof and painted walls.
Mukteshwar Temple is one of the best places to visit in Mukteshwar. Its is after which the town is named, Lord Shiva granted Mukti to an Assur. It is a hike for those who are religiously inclined.
After a short walk from the temple lies Chauuri Jhali which is certainly a spot not to be missed when going to Mukteshwar. The jhalli comprises of a series of the rocky ledge which reminds me of the tales of big cats which might have been hidden in the forest.
The Chaurri Jhalli promises you with spectacular views of the Kumaun Hills and on bright days the majestic Himalayas. The place is a focal point also for activities like grappling, rock climbing, etc.
It’s flooded with tourists especially in the day time, though as the night approaches the crowd recedes. One can then witness a beautiful sunset over the Himalayan range. The glittering lights of Kumaun valley add another dimension to the view. According to local folklore, wishes are made at Chaurri Jhalli comes true. .
PWD Inspection Bungalow is a place where Jim Corbett stayed during his visit. The Bungalow is currently owned by KMVN and is another point from where one can admire the Himalayas. The likes of Nanda Ghunti(20,700 ft), Trisul East(22,360 ft), Nanda Devi (25,645 ft), Nanda Devi East (24,391 ft), Nanda Kot (22,510 ft) and Panchachuli (22,650 ft) are visible.
Apart from the ‘points’. You can always enjoy apples, plum, pears and apricot around Mukteshwar. We had an IIM Ahmedabad Prof as a guest speaker who gave half his lecture appreciating the pears he had had in the area. It is also a hub for birdwatchers who frequently visit to get a shot of White crusted laughing thrust, and Black-winged kite.
The travelers get to witness the warm hospitality of the locals. I had drifted away from the well-trodden paths when a young lad, Deepak, came out of the way to help me and only went back when I was at the gate of the guesthouse in which I was staying. He works as a full-time cook in a resort which paid him a meager amount of Rs 3000 per month. This trickle down effect of the economy where petite of what is made from tourism reaches the locals. It’s a big cause of worry and a one of the major reasons for migration in the hills.
Where to Eat in Mukteshwar?
Mukteshwar, being a relatively small hill station, offers its tourist some of the finest cuisines. Many restaurants have cropped up which provide food ranging from 100% organic food to Italian cuisines.
The locals still prefer to eat Alu-Raitha/ Cholle at small food joints.
When to Visit Mukteshwar?
Mukteshwar is accessible throughout the year. We suggest visiting the place along the summer and the autumn season. When the weather is clearer and so is the view of Himalayas. Mukteshwar receives heavy snowfall during the winter months. Due to the dense forest and altitude, it takes some time for snow to melt down.
How to Reach Mukteshwar?
By Train: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station to Mukteshwar. It is located at a distance of 73 km from the hilltop. Taxis available from this rail-head to Mukteshwar, promise a comfortable journey to the tourists. Kathgodam through the rail network is connected to the major cities of the country.
By Bus: The nearest Bus station is Haldwani. Buses regularly leave from ISBT Anand Vihar Delhi to Haldwani/Mukteshwar. (For prior reservation go to Uttarakhand Roadways website).
Cabs/Shared Cabs/ Buses are available from Haldwani to Mukteshwar. On a recent visit, we found the road from Kuthani to Mukteshwar is not in good shape. It’s better to ride all the way to Bhowali and then head to Mukteshwar touching malla Ramgarh.