Jim Corbett, the world renowned hunter and nature lover came to shoot a tiger here and fell in love with the natural beauty of Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand. He saved the local people and has described the incident in ‘The man-eaters of Kumaon.’
I didn’t kill a tiger, but was absolutely enchanted by this tranquil hill station.
It was originally a British inhabitation, borne out of their affinity for cool mountain climes.Set amidst conifer forests and orchards, Mukteshwar is at an altitude of 2286m and is located atop a high ridge.
This sleepy hamlet is often referred to as ‘the apple country’, and other fruits like plum, apricot, pear, peach are grown here as well. Its not a typical hill station but has sweeping valley views of the Himalayas and its snowy peaks.
The serene and tranquil atmosphere walking from Sitla to Mukteshwar took my breath away. The colourful roses in front of the post office are a sight to cherish. There are a lot of buildings established in 1905 in Mukteshwar and a walk through this small hamlet will help you spot them. I roamed around the alleys and had a great time perusing the architectural delights that Mukteshwar has in abundance.
Here are some of my top recommendations for places to visit in Mukteshwar, courtesy of my considerable time spent there in May 2015.
Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI)
A space surrounded by thick coniferous forests was developed by the British as a Veterinary Research and Education Institute. The enormous building is an architecture lover’s delight. IVRI houses a museum and also the cold chamber – a refrigerator from the old days. Entry is restricted here and you might need special permission to go in. Photography is not allowed.
The villagers narrate that the town of Mukteshwar is associated with a legend of Lord Shiva who gifted immortality or ‘Mukti’ to a demon that he slew. This 350 year old temple can be reached via a winding path of stone stairs. The idols of Brahma, Vishnu, Parvati, Ganesh, Nandi & Hanuman surround the Shiva Lingam made of white marble. It is located in beautiful and very silent surroundings. There’s also Ram Temple nearby and has beautiful interiors and a well spoken Panditji who narrates some mythological tales.
Chauli ki Jaali
Further ahead of the Shiva Temple is Chauli ki Jaali, Mukteshwar’s highest point to sit and chill. There is a 270 degree view of the entire Kumaon valley for your taking from Chauli Ki Jaali. Rocks jut out of the ground with gloriously blue skies completing a marvellous show of nature. Chauli ki Jaali is a natural latticework on the rock. Locals hold this site in high respect. Various adventure activities like zip lining and rock climbing are available here. Marvel at the pretty landscapes and watch the houses scattered across in dense greenery. A perfect spot for the famed mountain sunsets and spotting the peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchachuli.
I had roamed on the road in Mukteshwar but couldn’t find this lovely structure. This hidden church set amid cedar trees was built almost 100 years ago. It is only open for a few hours on Sundays. This beautiful red and white structure with lovely stained windows and a steeple bell can be reached via a downward path just after the market. It is best visited in the evening when the light is just right for spectacular valley views.
The locals sell trinkets made out of pine cones. The market is a collection of old wooden shops and is a treasure trove for souvenirs and knick knacks. Delicious jams, rhododendron squash and other juices can be procured here. If you keep walking along the Sitla road, an entire forest of Oak trees will pass you by near the Forest Check Post; called Oak Avenue. Please your palate with a taste of local Kumaoni food at one of the small home restaurants on the road.
Mukteshwar Inspection Bungalow and PWD rest house
Wonderfully located gardens with a colourful variety of flora, close to the KMVN Tourist Reception Centre. A famous piece of history is attached to this place as Jim Corbett stayed here in 1929. An apt spot for a packed leisurely lunch. Rosemary, thyme and chamomile grow here, try and spot them and take in the delicious aroma. Walking to this place is a delight in itself with snowy peaks visible in the far distance while you amble in the midst of trees and take in the aroma of nature.
How to reach :
Kathgodam is the nearest train station at a distance of 72 kms from Mukteshwar. Direct trains from Delhi and many parts of the country to Kathgodam.
By road, it lies around 350 kms away from Delhi, 25 km ahead of Ramgarh and 60 kms away from Haldwani.
Where to stay :
There are various budget options in the form of guest houses and homestays in Mukteshwar; many upmarket resorts have sprung up recently too. There is a beautifully located KMVN Tourist Rest House.
December to March are cold when it snows. The weather is pleasant otherwise.