Uttarakhand never fails to please and this time we set out to explore Mukteshwar, the quaint little town sitting on the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand, around 350kms away from Delhi and 50kms away from the district headquarters at Nainital. Mukteshwar, as the name suggests has a religious connotation to it and is a spot for the followers of Lord Shiva – the transformer, the auspicious one, the God of Yogis, one of the three deities of Hinduism. Mukteshwar gets its name from a 350-year-old temple of Shiva, known as Mukteshwar Dham, situated atop the highest point in the town.
The town was in the news recently as most of the forest land was engulfed in a huge fire that left it devastated. However, the nature has it’s own way of recuperating as the burnt trees have started to shed the destroyed bark and the burnt ground is getting covered with pine leaves.
Mukteshwar doesn’t offer any option to stay in a star rated property and has nothing to offer to the luxury patrons. However, it is an epitome of breaking the city routine and staying in the lap of green and hills.
Is it a spot for solo travellers?
Travelling with like-minded people is always fun, but travelling solo is magical too. Mukteshwar is ideal for introspecting; it’s cooler in summers (8-18 degrees in mid-May). Not yet bitten by the commercial bug contrary to it’s neighbours like Nainital and Bhimtal to some extent. The place offers you natural scenic views, abundance of pine and oak trees and the peace to hear one self. It’s ideal for natural photography and nature trails and the residents are happy and helpful souls.
The forests of Mukteshwar are home to the rhesus monkeys, langur jabbers, deer, rare mountain birds, mountain leopards, Himalayan black bears and different birds like the Himalayan rubythroat, white-crested laughing thrush, red-billed leiothrix, and black-winged kite. There are few spots around Mukteshwar which could offer you personal swimming ponds with clear water. If you are lucky and it has rained recently, you get to see multiple waterfalls too. Pick a spot near Padampuri and you have a perfect natural pool party.
Chauli ki jaali, which used to be the ideal quiet sunset point till an year back has now become a hub for adventure activities such as zip-lining, rock-climbing and rappelling. The venue is is famous for its legends, . It is said that a battle was fought between a demon and a Goddess here. A shield, an elephant’s trunk and faint outlines of a sword can still be seen. If you re feeling more adventurous and fancy a flight, Paragliding at khutani is another option.
Apart from the ancient Shiva temple next to Chauli ki Jaali, there are two more prominent religious venues such as Rajarani Temple, constructed in the 11th century and has a beautiful stone sculpture of Rajarani. The Brahmeswara Temple is a prominent shrine constructed in the year 1050 with a wide collection of fine sculptures and stone carvings.
Views of mighty Himalayas?
Sitla, a beautiful hill station, nestled at an elevation of 7000 ft, is a famed tourist destination located in proximity to Mukteshwar. The hill station spreads over an area of 39 acres and offers spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas.
A beautiful hamlet known as Nathuakhan, located in the Kumaon Hills, is another prominent destination that offers mesmerising views of the mighty Himalayan ranges. The region is covered with oak, pine, birch and kaphal trees and has rustic cottages, which enhance the overall charm of the place best suited for nature walks and trekking in the region.
The Indian Veterinary Research Institute established in Mukteshwar has been playing an important role in the growth of veterinary science in India since 1893.
Mukteshwar is the perfect venue to grow apples. Take a trip around late June to pluck fresh ripe apples from the trees. Satbunga is one place to do that.
There is a dearth of ATMs and liquor shops in the area, one needs to manage the same on the way to this town. To sum up, there is a lot to see, hear and do in this town, take a trip soon!