Munsiyari is situated in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand state, covered in the snow capped peaks of the Himalayan Belt. Munsiyari located at an altitude of 2298mts above sea level in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand. Munsiyari offers exotic panorama wide angle view to capture natural scenic beauty.
Munsiyari Uttarakhand, without a doubt in my head, is the most beautiful place in Uttarakhand. So this article might be inherently biased towards my love for the place. If you are first time visitor to Munsiyari I feel so envious to you. You can read our first rendezvous to Munsiyari from here.
Munsiyari (2290m) is one of the most scenic places in Uttarakhand. The paranoiac view of the Panchachuli(6000 m) range at all time, from anywhere in the village can make you sigh. Munsiyari is often called “Miniature Kashmir”. This is especially true for winters. The small valley is barely 5 kms wide and 2 kms long.
Munsiyari literally means “A Place with snow”. Traditionally it has been a very important for trade, today Munsiyari is visited by many trekkers for which it is a base camp. The Milam, Namik and Ralam Glaciers treks being major treks. The place is also getting popular for winter sports and Bird-Watching.
Munsiyari tourism is yet to kick off. The distance between Delhi and Munsiyari is 565 kms, which has kept it safe from tourist. There are only few who even know the gifts of the place.
History of Munsiyari
Munsiyari has always had an ancient presence. It was the locus of trade between India and Tibet. The border with Tibet was closed off after the unfortunate war with China. Things have never been the same. Since the economic and the cultural experiences between With that came a momentous change in the economy and culture. It affected many aspects of life in these valleys. This has lead to migration at astounding levels in the nearby areas. Munsiyari also falls on the ancient salt route from Tibet and is at the entrance of the Johar Valley.
Things to do Munsiyari :
Musiyari is your regular Himalayan sleepy village; 2km downhill from the bazar, the small Tribal Heritage Museum, run by the charming scholar SS Pangtey. Dr. Pangti has retained the artifacts, books on history and culture of the region. It is a modest attempt to preserve years of cultural heritage and diversity in the region.
In springs lower reaches forest are ablaze with rhododendrons forests, the place is rich in Flora and Fauna. Famous among Bird watchers, Munsiyari has a rich species of a variety of high altitude and rare birds such as Himalayan Monal, Rock Bunting, Snow Pigeon, Bearded Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Whistling Thrush, Wag Tail, Hawk, Cuckoo, Falcon, Serpent Eagle and many other. Wild animals like Leopard, Musk deer, Panther, Mountain bear, are found here in abundance.
Apart from its natural beauty, the place offers ample of opportunities for adventure sports, especially in winters, Khaliya top offers various opportunities for skiing for beginners and experts. The are pans to start paragliding here. Paragliding in the backdrop of the Panchachuli Range.
Shopping in Munsiyari:
Munsiyari is famous for its hand-weaved woolen clothes, floor mats, and many other things that are made up of pure wool of sheep and angora fur (rabbit breed). One may buy these from the local shops, from the Saras Bajar (market) or one may directly ask for it in the local villages.
The place is also famous for its locally produced organic products like Munsiyari Rajma, Potatoes , and other natural herbs used in cooking like jamboo, gandhrani and cordyceps .
Where to eat in Munsiyari :
As due to the high terrain and the coolest place in the region, the major meal includes non-vegetarian food for the locals. One may try the Arji and chicken pakora in the local Shops. Dhabbas are Indian wall hole-in-wall-eateries, they serve simple, fare and best value. Here in the Himalayan foothills, they serve rice, dhal and chappatis with the odd deep fried dish, The dishes are fresh, cheap and convey the nuance of the local produce and flavors. Do check out the local beer made from traditional ingredients.
Places to visit in Munsiyari :
Khaliya Top Trek:
It is a day trek. The height of Khaliya top is 11500ft and 12 km away from Munsiyari . The trek offers panoramic views of the greater Himalayan ranges. Towering peaks of Panchchuli, Hardeol, Rajrambha, Nandadevi, and Nandakot are clearly visible in this range. These snow laden mountains surround the Khaliya Alpine meadows. When you set foot on the Top, the entire Himalayan ranges unfolds straight ahead in front of you.
In winters, Khaliya top is full of opportunities for skiing. The Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering of Uttarakhand offers various courses for skiing, trekking and rock climbing for the youth.
It is also known as Mehsar Kund by the locales. According to myths and legends, a Yaksha used to live in this small lake. The Yaksha fell in love with the Sarpanchas daughter. Angry sarpanch and other peoples of the village dried the lake to avenge upon him. Yaksha cursed the village after this incident and Munsiyari suffered from drought for a long time until they came to him and apologized. This ritual practice is even continued today. Maheshwari Kund is just a few kilometers walk from Munsiyari. Panchachuli peak can be seen from here.
Temple is one of the oldest Temples developed in ancient days. It is beautifully designed and decorated. People worship Nanda Devi Temple with great reverence for the bottom of their heart. A 3km stimulating trek from Munsiyari will take you to Nanda Devi Temple. A fair is organized every September in celebration for the presiding deity.
Excursions from Munsiyari
Dharchula: It is about 90kms away from Munsiyari. This beautiful place is situated on the banks of River Kali and is also trading point with Nepal and is also acts as a base for the ITBP (Indo-Tibet Border Police).
Narayan Ashram: It is about 50kms away from the town Dharchula. Famous for its spirituality and tranquillity. The road is kaccha but motorable. Taxi’s are available from Dharchula to Narayan Ashram.
Thamari Kund: is a natural lake and is surrounded by paper trees.The lake is known for a significant population of musk deer which come here for drinking water. It is perfect place for peace lover tourists
Birthi Fall: Birthi Fall is located 35kms before Munsiyari and is well connected with the highway. The fall is a pleasing cascading surrounded with verdant colours, falling from the height of 126mts. Birthi Falls has a KNVN guesthouse too if you want to visit the beautiful villages around the area.
Madkot: this small village is located 22km from Munsiyari en route Jaulgibi-Dharchula. The place is situated at the banks of River Gori Ganga, and is a home of various birds.
Jaulgibi: it is about 60km from Munsiyari on the way to Dharchula / Pithoragarh. The place is a confluence point of the River Gori Ganga and Kali and placed at Indo-Nepal border. The place is famous for river rafting on the river Kali that flows across the Indo-Nepal border.
Major Treks from Munsiyari:
Distance-57 km, Duration 5 days
Munsiyari acts as a base camp of the Milam Glacier trek. The route passes through Lilam, Bogudiar, Rilkot, Martoli, Burfu and Bilju. Stretching across 28 km, the Milam Glacier is the largest and remotest in the Kumaon region and is situated at a height of 3,438 meters. Although 52 peak in this region, the most majestic of them is Trisul.
At the snout of the Milam Glacier rises the Gori Ganga River. The Milam Glacier Trek gives a lifetime experience as the trek passes through several solitary hamlets, lush green alpine meadows dotted with wild flowering plants and the evergreen forests is truly magnificent.
The trailing track to Milam Glacier starts from the month of May to the end of October.
Distance-42 km, Duration 4 days
Chiplakot is a small village in Pithoragarh district, popular for skiing. The alpine meadows of Chiplakot Bugyal are about 30 km from Munsiyari and dotted with tiny lakes.
Ralam Glacier Trek:
Distance: 45 km
It is another Exhausting trek that takes Munsiyari as a base camp. The trek passes through Lilam Patan Gaon (15 km),Sophiya Udiyar (15 km), Ralam (15 km).
Distance-56 km, Duration 5 days
The trek commences at Munsiyari and the route ascends up the Gori Ganga River gorge which separates the Nanda Devi group from the beautiful peaks of the Panchachuli group. The initial parts of the trek lead through the high Himalayan ridges to open up into the wide expanse of the gentler trans-Himalayan region. There are quaint Himalayan settlements on the way and villages, like Rilkot and Martoli, has houses that are apparently over 150 years old.
There are several options available for accommodations in Munsiyari. KNVM, Pandey Lodge and Millam Resort are some of the well known which are located at the heart of the city.
Weather in Munsiyari:
Munsiyari temprature falls within hours. A warm sunny morning might give way to mid-day showers. Munsiyari receives heavy snowfall in the winter season.
Summer: It starts from March and remain till June. The temperature ranges from 20 to 30 degrees in summer on most of the days. The sky remains mostly clear and Panchachuli peaks are visible.
Monsoon: Starts from mid July till mid September. Temperature ranges from 15 to 25 degrees in monsoon. The place Munsiyari manly includes heavy rainfall and the route remains landslide prone.
Winter: starts from November last till March starting. Temperature ranges from -15 to 25 degrees in winters. The place remains covered in snow mainly throughout the winter.
What is the best time to visit Munsiyari ?
They correct answer to that question is it depends. For adventure seekers, people interested in winter sports and who wish to see Munsiyari in all its might, it would be
How to Reach Musiyari:
By Air: Normally there is no flight available for Munsiyari. But the KMVN has started a Helicopter tour for the tourists; one may call and ask for availability.
By Rail: the nearest railway head is Kathgodam about 300 km away from Munsiyari.
By Road: Munsiyari is well connected with the road and local Taxi and Buses are also available from Kathgodam (Haldwani).
One may take the route Delhi-Kathgodam-Almora-Berinaag-Thal-Munsiyari. The distance between Delhi and Musiyari is 630kms.
Or may take another as Delhi-Kathgodam-Almora-Pithoragarh-Munsiyari
One may take the route: Delhi-Kathgodam-Almora-Berinaag-Thal-Munsiyari- Pithoragarh-Almora to make a complete circuit.