A Backpacker’s dream It was in December 2014, Bhattji calls at night “Tomorrow we are leaving for Munsiyari Tour”. Munsiyari, a small hill station nested in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It has been on our travel list for sometime now. It was supposed to be a bike trip but in that season riding Milkha (our bike) would not have been a good decision.
So we turned towards the roadways. The plan was to catch the bus that comes from Delhi to Munsiyari in Bhowali at 1 A.M. We got to Bhowali at nine in the night. The policemen positioned in Bhowali bus station were happy to share the burning embers & some lively stories about the crazy things they encounter.
Here we also met a 75 year old man who accompanied us to Munsiyari, Trivediji. Trivediji had heard about “Panchachuli” since childhood and always wanted to go to Munsiyari. Following your travel dreams at that age was initially a big surprise and later an inspiration to us.
Flying on Wheels:
It was 3 A.M and our bus was still not there. We couldn’t help but twist our necks on the slightest sound of a whirring engine. But we were adamant that we will take the bus as planned. It was 4:30 AM when the bus to Munsiyari finally showed up. The bus seats were the most comfortable thing we had to sit on that night.
The Bus was moving at its usual slow pace until the driver changed in Almora. Came in, Rajeev. He is the reason why drivers in hills are referred as Pilots. He was practically flying the bus. We were later told that he was an expert and well acquainted with every twist & turn in the road.
We started interacting with fellow travelers on the way which provided us good information about the place. When you get to travel with so many people living in such remote areas, something in you changes, you realize how small are your life problems and how much resilience can people develop living in this part of the world.
Love at first sight:
The minute we crossed Thall, the view changed, the floating river, the huge mountains were there accompanying us. We knew we were in for a treat. The Birti Fall is a landmark. It truly is. Our Pilot continued to defy the laws of gravity which added new thrill to our journey. We reached Munsiyari at 5:30 PM. We were then greeted by Panchachuli and it was love at first sight all over again.
The sun was about to set, it is one of the great wonders of mother nature to see sunset through the point of view of Panchachuli. The perpetual colour change in peaks lead to the wonder that was the moon, a full moon. It was so breathtaking, that lost in that moment, we forgot to capture it with our cameras. We were just mesmerized with what we had witnessed. Later I met a lady who proclaimed that she comes here every full moon all the way from Delhi to see the moon rise. This bird you cannot change:
Next day I was up early for my jog and for the sunrise. We will be eternally grateful to Panwar Sir who let us tag along with his group for some action on Bird Watching front. We looked for the state bird (Monal) for quite a time but as it often happens with the royalty we were not able to get a glimpse of it. Himalayan Vultures did bestow us with their presence. The rest of the day was spent Bird-watching with the group, wandering and checking out local delicacies.
Today We lunch at Khaliya Top (AHU! AHU! AHU!):
The day after, we decided to trek. The thumb rule is no visit to any hill station is complete without a hike. We trekked to the renowned Khaliya Top. It was an 8 km trek. Initially it went through dense woods. The vibrant flora and fauna of the woods was breathtaking. Every time I took a glance at the Panchachuli I couldn’t help but exclaim, ‘Is this for real?’.
After 6 kms of uphill trek, we finally reached the Bugyal ( Meadows). This was a new world, This was Narnia. We had our lunch at about 2 P.M. Caught up in a trance, we kicked ourselves for not bringing the tents along and slowly dragged our heels back. I was all for taking a shortcut in the way down, but my wise friend resisted. We went down leisurely. No one comes back sad from a trek, try it. We went to sleep seconds after we fell into the bed.
The next day, we had to leave. We said goodbye to all the warm hill folks. The bus back home was spent in deep thought on figuring out questions about happiness, love, life and peace.The questions that lie dormant in your normal routine life suddenly stare back at you in the hills and you often you ‘find’ yourself’ wondering.