The recipe for a perfect cocktail if you ask me consists of a dash of snow capped peaks of the Himalayas, forests of oak, deodar, rhododendron and pine in the far flung areas of Kumaon, empty serpentine roads, a few lakes in complete isolation.
Cocktail was what I was looking for during the chilling winter of Delhi and the search of the recipes lead me to Munsyari, a small town in Johar valley on the bank of Gori Ganga at the base of Panchachuli peaks of Kumaon Himalayas in Pithoragarh district. According to Hindu mythology, the Pandavas cooked their last meal on their way to heaven on the top of those imposing snow capped peaks and hence the name Pancha chulli.
Once you reach Munsyari, you will be surrounded by panoramic views of peaks like Nandakot, Nandaghungti, Rambha and Shiplakot. The sun keeps playing around with the colour effects on these peaks right from dawn till dusk, Panchachulli transforms itself from red and pink during morning to yellow and burning gold as the sun goes to rest. I got to witness the Panchaculli in all its glory throughout the day and through the night…under a cloudless moonlit sky! The experience was mesmerizing and spell bounding, words fall short and you must be there to feel it nice and propah!
The neat and immaculately located KMVN resthouse gives you the opportunity to wake up to a glorious morning, the Panchachulli setting the backdrop for the birds to entertain you while you sip through morning tea.
You can trek to nearby places like Khalia top (10km) which presents awesome views of Panchachulli peaks; this is also a hot skiing spot in the often snowy winters of Munsyari. Darkot, 10 Km north of Munsyari on a mountain slope, is a typical picturesque village of Bhotia tribe. Birthi falls (31 kms) is a 500 metre trek from the main road leading to Munsyari. Although the falls itself is visible from a distance, to reach to its base you have to trek up through stairs and pasture lands amidst amazingly dwarfisque cows and goats. The Birthi falls is almost 125 metres high and the view is spectacular to say the least, both of the waterfalls and the view of spreadout landscape which will stun you! Munsyari also is the last town if you decide to trek Milam, Relam and a few other glacier treks, Munsyari is popular amongst the trekking fraternity.
Photo by: Salil U.
Before the Indo-China border conflict in 1962, Munsyari used to be a busy trading post leading to a prosperous Bhotia community. But the war stopped the traditional trade with Tibet and forced locals to seek out far and wide for a living. The high quality woolen shawl, pashmina, thulmas (quilt) etc. that you will see in the tiny bazaar is all but remains of an era gone by. A select few are still hanging on to their traditions, albeit with much financial jeopardy.
Road Signs: NH 24 from Delhi – Turn Left from Rampur after crossing Hapur and Moradabad– Cross Bilaspur, Haldwani, Kathgodam, all on NH87 – Diversion towards Berinag from Almora – Cross Dholchina, Barachina, Sheraghat, Rayagarh Bend, Thal, Kalamuni and reach Munsyari.
Fuel stations are aplenty, advisable for Bullets, Karizmas and CBZs to tank up from Almora. Services centers for Hero Honda, Bajaj, Honda and TVS motorcycles are located in Almora.
Accommodation: PWD Rest House and Kumaon Mandal Vikash Nigam Tourist Lodge. Private hotels are also available.
Altitude: 2290 Mts.
Distance from Delhi: 615kms
Distance from Nainital: 295 kms.
Motorcycle: Honda Unicorn ES
Fuel Average: 49kmpl