Mukteshwer

Uttarakhand Kumaon Hills are dotted with many numbers of gorgeous hill stations, each with its own special charm and easy accessibility. One such splendid hill resort is Mukteshwar, 2300 m, a secluded retreat blessed with pleasant weather and heart-stopping vistas of the Himalayas.

The town of Mukteshwar is associated with a legend of Shiva who gifted immortality or Mukti to a demon that he slew. Mukteshwar was a quiet mountain hamlet till the turn of the last century. It owes much of its present day status to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, which possesses a large part of the land and most of the deep forests that surround Mukteshwar. Rhesus monkeys and langurs jabber in the trees, deer and birds abound, and the occasional mountain leopard and Himalayan black bear can be spotted.

It was in the forests of the Kumaon region that Jim Corbett hunted half a dozen of the famous man-eating tigers of Kumaon, including the notorious Champawat Tiger and the Panar leopard that had killed hundreds of people The evergreen forests and deciduous woodlands are home to the Himalayan ruby throat, white-crested laughing thrush, red-billed leothrix, black winged kite and a host of other mountain birds. The elusive Himalayan Mountain Quail was last seen in the Nainital vicinity near Mukteshwar. Beyond the forests, past fields and farms are lush fruit orchards that grow apples, plums, peaches, apricots and pears.

From Mukteshwar there is a divine view of the Himalayas, each peak with a sacred identity and myth of its own. See the 6596 m high Neelkantha (Blue-throated Shiva), the 7120 m Trishul (Shiva's Trident), Nanadadevi, 7817 m (Goddess of Bliss), Nanadaghunti 6310 m (the Veil of the Goddess) and the five-pronged chimneys of the Panchuli peaks Another awe-inspiring view is from Chauthi Jali, where rocks jut out from the hill face at a bizarre angle. This is a great place to observe eagles and other feathered scavengers as they swoop down at their prey. Ramgarh, 26 km away, has blissful fruit orchards, Bhowali, 40 km is a health resort and Ghorakhal, 37 km has the temple of Gollu Devta, an important deity of the Kumaonis. Other excursions are the Devidhura temple, 120 km, the Reetha Sahib Gurdwara and the Punyagiri temple.

How to Reach

Air - Binsar is 343 km from Delhi. The closest airport is at Pantnagar, 98 km.
Rail - Train Last station is Kathgodam 80 km from Binsar.
Road - You can take a tourist bus, taxi or drive up via Almora, 80 km from Kathgodam.

What to See Around

Mukteshwar Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the hilltop temple with white marble Shiva Linga and Copper Yoni is surrounded by idols of Brahma, Vishnu, Parvati, Hanuman, Ganesh and Nandi. You have to climb a series of winding steep stone stairs to reach the sanctum.

Sitla: 6000 ft high, Sitla is a hill station popular for its colonial style bungalows. Tourists can engage in trekking expeditions of varying difficulty levels organised by the resorts in this area.

Chauthi Jaali: Next to Mukteshwar temple is Chauthi Jaali, and area where it is believed that a Demon and a Goddess fought a battle. The place is marked with what is believed to be faint outlines of a sword, a shield and a trunk of an elephant.

Indian Veterinary Research Institute: Yuksom, an ancient town in Geyzing subdivision of West Sikkim in the Northeast Indian state of Sikkim was the first capital of Sikkim established by Phuntsog Namgyal who was the first temporal and religious king of the place. The coronation spot of the first monarch of Sikkim is known as the "Throne of Norbugang". Yuksom is where lies the Norbugang Chorten near the Norbugang throne, the place Namgyal was crowned, several monasteries and a lake. The Chogyal dynasty ruled over for 333 years.

View of Nanda Devi : Nanda Devi is the 2nd highest mountain peak in India and overall 23rd in the world. It stands as tall as 7,816 m above the sea level. This mountain peak is clearly visible from Mukteswar and tourists visiting Mukteswar must have a clear look at this mesmerizing beauty.