Chakori To Munsyari via Mighty Birthi Falls

After Abbott Mount, Patal Bhuvneshwar and Chaukori, we were getting ready for our most important destination of this trip – Munsyari. The drive to Chaukori on the way up was via Tanakpur and Gangolihaat which we covered for the first time. We had saved the more familiar Bhowali-Binsar-Bageshwar drive for the way back. The luxury at Ojaswi had supplied enough strength for everyone to be ready for the last ascent. So we rev-ed the car and moved towards Thal.

The great Himalayan drive


We were now driving in upper Himalayas, and it being right in the rainy season ensured that it was green all over (and under and around). Thal seemed like a big enough town considering that it is way up and had its share of market, school and all the paraphernalia. We crossed yet another small iron bridge over a stream and moved on. It was too soon to make a stop.

Kali Ganga River alongside (I think so)

In no time, we were crossing a high-altitude Himalayan village/small-town when at a Bamboo-Barrier tool booth we were told that there is a landslide ahead. We were short of Nachni. Usually, when you are traveling the locals have the most updated info but it is always a good idea to cross-check a couple of times, the new things you learn. So we moved ahead, not heeding to the advice of the toll-man to take a halt. After all, if it was to be a landslide then we can always take a halt as we come close to it, which though is not a great idea. The day was rising fast and I knew that with weather gods not on my side, a one hour landslide can easily grow into something more elaborate. We moved on and after a couple of affirmations and then re-affirmations, we knew that there is indeed a landslide and it would be at least a couple of hours before we can move on. We decided to cross the small town and rather wait at some place more quiet and in a short while we reached one such place.

It was close to a rapta, the point where a river flows over the road as it comes down from one mountain and slide to another. A Mahindra Pickup was standing, right there making use of Rapta to cleanse the wagon of all the dirt. We watched the involved couple of driver and cleaner doing the act and decided to borrow the thought. After cleaning and general whiling around, we decided to move ahead and get as close to Landslide as possible and boy it was indeed a big one.

Landslide at Nachni - Pretty Bad

Nachni Landslide - Notice the vehicles to get a scale of things

I pulled the car at a good vantage point and after switching the engine off, moved a couple of furlong to get a closer look. About 100 truck worth of rubble had crumbled in a heap and a solitary JCB was in full act to make a small way, good enough for one file of vehicles, for the waiting cars. On the other side, there was a sharp drop that demanded exceptional skill and perseverance to move the JCB and then continue to do so for many hours.

There was slush all over so I didn’t go further and returned to share my assessment with fellow riders. We knew that we had good time to kill.

The break at Nachni gave a lot of calm to cabin crew and the drive thereafter was spent gazing at mighty Himalayan views, almost a sombre drive with not much of chit-chat followed. Kids found time to catch on some sleep and I quietly moved on from one Himalayan village to another till someone asked on a white line, visible from afar. As we continued to drive, we could witness the Himalayan beauty in full glory, the tall blue mountains, the green carpet of flora and the thick white line. After about 30 minute of drive, it was getting clear that this white line is the famous ‘Birthi Falls’.

Birthi Falls - Shot from a very long distance

You can see Birthi Falls from a long distance and as we got closer and closer the might was gradually beginning to unfold till we finally reached almost at the base of the falls. We knew that there was a KMVN at Birthi and the plan was to make a good long lunch stop.

Even though Birthi is one tall fall, there was no one around. Probably it was close to mid-day for any locals to be there and not the best of seasons for long distance tourists/travelers like us. We parked the car right at the base of the stairs which gradually takes you close to the falls. On the way up, there were enough opportunities to get beautiful shots.

After a climb of about 50 steps, we reached a place where this bunch of local kids were preparing for a party. The menu was steaming rice with fresh water fish.
From this point, one can either walk down back to the road or take another trail to KMVN which is almost adjacent or can walk up to get very close to the Falls. I was not confident of taking my 6 year old and decided to spend some time with her and the kids, while the rest of the gang moved on to get a close view. Right there itself, we were getting enough sprinkles from the pressure of the fall. In some time, I saw a boy coming with a fish, most likely caught just a while back. The main cook quickly engaged himself to remove the scales with a very rusty knife. I remembered my times back home when we would do the same, de-scaling fresh Rohu, fished from captive local pond, those were the days! After descaling, he meticulously cut the fish, put the customary and much needed turmeric and was ready to cook it. By then, our party was right under the falls, well almost right under the falls and getting drenched. I missed all of their waving calls, so was I told later and was busy taking photos of me and my daughter using the timer of my high-end (shamelessly borrowed) camera.

The mighty Birthi Falls

Birthi in Background - Get the scale

Cabin Crew

Another shot of Birthi

Party Time at the hall at the base of Birthi

The gang joined us back in about 30 minute and were gaga about their experience and we moved on to KMVN, dreaming hot and fresh food. KMVN was deserted, the solitary cook agreed to make something but it would take many hours so we requested him to make some maggi for us. We sourced the Maggi from a shop nearby and had it along with the tons of food that my wife carries, almost all the time and almost to all places.

Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Hotel at Birthi

KMVN Birthi - Another View of the Hotel

We had a good long lunch and rest at KMVN and I was wondering on why there were no guests, even though it was not a great season to be but still, the kind of location KMVN has is simply out of the world. I was told by the cook that in another month or so, the falls would grow manifold and one can experience the micro-droplets while sipping the great Himalayan sweet tea on the front lawns of the lodge.

Beyond Birthi, it was a different world altogether. We were quickly gaining height and with almost every turn, we would pass through a small ‘water fall’. We let go of initial few but could not resisted stopping at the next one. After a real quick stop, when we moved ahead , we got another one at the next turn. The tar was now giving away and it was beginning to drizzle. Over next half an hour or so, we would have passed many water falls and with the tar quality deteriorating, the drizzle not stopping, the gain in height and the visibility challenging the patience of the driver, the cabin crew got the flu. Now it was time, to quietly and safely drive through the upper echelons with no rush. I carried on since I knew that after some time, the green canopy would vanish and there was enough day-light left for us to safely reach Munsyari.

After one last big ascent, we started to climb down and we entered Munsyari, the Himnagari of Kumaon. This was the destination where we wanted to be. As we kept coming down, we noticed these igloo shaped eco-parks and gradually the road became much better and wider and when we entered the main town, we still had an hour worth of day light left. Woohoo, we have done it. I parked my car at KMVN, Munsayari where we had booked two large rooms each of which can bed 4 people. When we learnt that these large rooms are at the ground level, we decided to exchange them with regular rooms (forfeiting the extra money we have paid for bigger rooms) at 2nd level. There was no power so after checking-in, we decided to step out and get some food supplies for the night.

Munsyari - Zero Milestone

I had a contact there so after calling him, I reached the market. By now, it was raining heavily and as we entered into the office (cum storage room of camping gears) of Biru and made ourselves comfy amid the falling camping gears from all sides and had tea, the weather had gone worse. We didn’t have a long conversation with Biru since it was difficult for him to imagine a bunch of jokers driving through this weather all the way to Munsyari and when we left, thanking him for the great tea, he gave us a special look and a friendly advise to go back early in the morning, as soon as possible unless we want to be at Munsyari for next many days. We again thanked him and carried on amid rains to look for that special museum by Mr. Pangti, made famous by professor Khamesra.

Shree 420 - At Pangti Museum

The museum was closed so we rushed back. Bought some supplies and after pouring the much needed dark-water-of-life in thick silica glasses, we stepped into the balcony, only to be welcomed by the marvelous and humbling site of the great bunch of Panchachuli. Almost at an arm’s distance, almost like with arms-opened-wide for a warm hug after the sweet-sour drive.

Panchachuli - Right in the backyard

Welcome to Munsyari.

38 Comments

  • I really enjoyed reading the long post…I could completely relate to it! The pictures are great as well :) usually with travel blogs, I see the pictures first and rarely read the post…with this I read the entire thing :) keep writing Nandan…

  • Aditya says:

    Fantastic… !!!

    And the location of the KMVN near the Birthi Falls…. Ah! I can just feel it sitting right here…..

    “This was the destination where we wanted to be” Hope that sometime soon i’ll b there too…. :)

  • toddler ved says:

    really well travelled….during the month of June, moreover its a pleasure trip blended with some adventure too, as encountered at Nachni. I have not been much through Kumaon Hills but for once while visiting Kausani through Ranikhet, Almorah and Nainital but I am regular with Garhwal hills upto place near Surkanda Devi, Kanatal through Rishikesh and Chamba, at least once in a year since last nine years…….sensed myself travelling too while going through the post.. nice pics especially of Birthi falls…

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thanks Nandan (and Manish) for showcasing the beauty of the Kumaon region. I always wanted to visit this area, especially after reading Jim Corbett as a schoolboy. After reading your blogs and ogling at the visuals, I wanna drop everything and head for the hills.

    I am pleasantly surprised that the KMVN provides decent accommodation in remote locations; one wishes that the same could be said of sarkari hotels in other parts of our country.

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Nandan Bhai…Really loved the last shot of Panchachuli Range.

    During my trip I just faced a single landslide that too was not a major one.

    Very Good Detailed account of your Kumaon Trip. Actually you are a master of doing such trips.

    Sahil

  • jaishree says:

    well Nandan,

    You saw Birthi in its glory but missed out Munsiyari………Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Siddhartha – Thanks for the appreciation. Would try more.

    @ Astro – Its not that far. If you start in time, you can easily reach Birthi with a night-halt at Binsar.

    @ Ved – Thank you. At Abbott, we were having a conversation with the hotel owner and on a lighter conversation, he shared that all the religious places are in Garhwal and all the beautiful places are in Kumaon :-)

    • toddler ved says:

      yessss…, I totally agree with the hotel owner that the way to spirituality and beauty are poles apart, infact from delhi only, the way for the destinations are bifurcated (Kumaon through Moradabad and Garhwal via Saharanpur), but of course such we can observe when we are at lower planes only….. once we attain height (reach higher hills) we can feel the two badly entwined beyond comprehension….is not the Bhyundar valley or valley of flowers, one of the most beautiful destination of the Himalayas, is accessible through nearby located Ranikhet…..SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM……….ultimate of beauty is spirituality and vice versa…. :-)

  • Nandan says:

    @ DL – Please visit, these are really very beautiful and not yet corrupt places. Most of the KMVNs have a great location but I avoid all of them :-) since the hygiene, overall value is not good vis-a-vis the price one has to pay. Even this one could not manage a nice lunch for a small group of 4 adults and 2 kids.

    From the Sarkaari hotels, I am most impressed by MP Tourism. I have a feeling that all the investment (infrastructure, processes, methods etc) which MP is making for tourism would become a game changer in next 20-40 years.

    @ Sahil – I can not beat your energy :-), be it log writing or driving down.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Jaishree – Jise bhi dekhiye wo apne aap mein g.um hai….

    Not Munsyari but I would want to go to Binsar one more time at least in the right season to witness the magic of Himalayan Peaks.

  • ashok sharma says:

    great narration,superb pics,looks like out of this world.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Adventure with the landslide was really interesting !

    The iron bridges….those are experiences unmatched. We clicked a number of photographs trying to capture the crevices, not to mention those heart rending, apoplectic sounds when the vehicle passes across them…

    Mr Pangti’s museum is quite interesting – as interesting as the person himself.

    Panchauli brooding over Munsiyari – this is one of the most memorable Himalayan expression for us…

    Thanks for the article,
    Auro.

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    “@ Sahil I can not beat your energy :-), be it log writing or driving down”

    Kya Nandan Bhai – Aap to beizzati kar rahe ho. Kahan aap kahan hum chote chote trips karne wale.

    Kahan aap long drives wale….Kahan hum short drives wale :-)

  • Nandan says:

    @ Ashok – Thank you Ashok. Very encouraging.

    @ Auro – ….apologetic sounds… wow. :-) What a ear I must say. :-) I would pray that all of us get enough time in hills, in some quaint place with a bustling market not too far away.

    @ Sahil – At your age, the most I was able to do was to take the DTC and show up at my office, about 20 odd KMs away. :-). I see you breaking all records. Your Pithoragarh sojourn says it all.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Sorry to comment very late , I was on tour to chennai & Mumbai.

    Nandan, religious places are in Kumaon too :-) , like Jageshwari , Patal bhubneswar , Baijnath , Naina devi …etc

    Very beautiful a/c on Kumaon , pictures are also very beautiful.

  • Sandeep Sehgal says:

    I just read thru the complete account and am impressed and inspired by the same. The places you stopped at and the falls are enticing. My brother has been talking about going to this place for the last couple of years, but my wife and daughter do not do too well on the mountain roads. I am sure that prepping them up with a few more shorter hill journeys will do the trick.

    Do you feel the trip to Munsyari is doable on a city car, say an Accent?

  • ram dhall says:

    Enough has been said about the brilliant description of this series on Munsiyari. What more can one add. Nevertheless through your writings, it seems that I have had some wonderful experiences and just come back from Munsiyari having enjoyed the virgin beauty of the mighty Himalayas.

    As Sahil has said, hats off to your courage to drive through these difficult hilly terrains.

    Wishing you many more memorable journeys in the Kumaon Hills, the Devbhoomi, which I love to visit, time and again.

  • Amit Kumar says:

    What a journey…what a description….Hats off to you. I am not comfortable in driving in hills, don’t know whether I can feel this ever by driving self or not! But anyways this narration made me feel like I am already there. Thanks a lot for such a great story.

  • Devasmita says:

    Absolutely loved reading it. This post reminded me of how much I have missed traveling in India. These wonderful writings are my only means to connect to the traveling experience in India at the moment !!! Great post Nandan.

  • Silentsoul says:

    Gr8 fotos and excellent narration. Munsyari will be my next stop

  • Nandan says:

    @ Mahesh – Your comment is always awaited. Also, we are seeing less of you at Ghumakkar. Please try to be here as time permits. Yes, religious places are in Kumaon too. Probably Mr. Singh was hinting more at 4 Dhams.

    @ Sandeep – Sorry for a real late response. Munsyari does involve a lot of mountain-riding. I have personally seen that a lot of motion-sickness can be controlled via a mix of slow-n-steady driving, eating/drinking well, avoiding vehicular smoke etc. You can very well do it in Accent.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      I am sorry for that , due to some new responsibilities & sales closing of our foreign partners I am very busy , give me some time its my promise you will see same Mahesh in new year (2012).

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      I am sorry for that , due to some new responsibilities & sales closing of our foreign partners I am very busy , give me some time its my promise you will see same Mahesh in new year (2012).

      Wish u all a happy Ghumakkari !!!

  • Nandan says:

    @ Ram – Thanks a ton. Insha Allah.

    @ Amit – You can. Just take it out.

    @ DC – Thank you. Next time you are here then head for Himalayas. Its bliss.

    @ Slientsoul – Thanks.

  • Silentsoul says:

    Abruptly ended ??? i think there must be another post on Munsiyari too. I came to this site looking for Munsiyari and found this post first on 16th Dec which made me join Ghumakkar

    please write one more post on Munsiyari and around….

  • Nandan says:

    SS – We were there just for a night. Please read following post, by a fellow Ghumakkar, Manish.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2011/01/10/munsyari--the-final-destination/

    There is one more in the series by Manish.

  • Tarun Talwar says:

    Dear Nandan,

    Another destination added to the list. Hope I will get a chance to visit the beautiful Munsyari some day. Birthi falls looks really deserted and I think that’s a good thing for those who hate touristy places. Thanks for sharing.

  • ujjal says:

    nice picture s Mr. Nandan..we are visiting kumaon on 13 th oct to 26 th oct. we are a group of 10 people. what type of car u suggest.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @Ujjal – Thanks.

    I would recommend a ‘Tempo Traveler’ or a ‘Force traveller’. Both look same, both are pretty agile and there is no greater fun then to have the entire gang together. They are not the most comfy vehicles though so some more information about the group composition (college kids or families with elders etc) would have helped me to make a more informed suggestion. All the best and make the most of it.

  • Dear Nandan,

    I enjoyed the Ghumakkari of yours thorough out this log. I heard the sunset at Panchchuli peaks from Munsiyari is awesome. Let me find out your next log if you could see it.

    Thanks for sharing your travel story too.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thanks Anupam. Yes, sunset is awesome but we were there in Monsoons so it was all overcast. Now you talk about it and all those images are before me and I am getting this super urge to be in that town, may be for many many days. Mountains are indeed calling.

  • Oh, nostalgia, how can I say, I don’t need you anymore.

  • S.Adhikari says:

    I want to move to Munsiyari with my Wife for Honeymoon.Also want to cover some of the other places too.It will be in Decmber Second week.Is it advisable to reach there on that time?what will be the weather?Is the journey and place is safe?Please advice the places to stay and all other things in detail.We want to move Munsiyari from Kausani via Baijnath, Bageswar, Chakori, Thal.Please suggest any shorthest route if you know.Waiting for your kind reply.

  • S.Adhikari says:

    My Plan is as below:

    Day 1 (05.12.2015):
    Catch Durgiana Express from Asansol Station
    Day 2 (06.12.2015):
    Reach Lucknow Charbagh Station.
    Move to Charbagh to Lucknow Central Station.
    Catch Kathgodam Express at 08:05am and reach Kathgodam at around 3pm.
    Move to Kausani direct from KathgodamOvernight stay in Kausani.
    Day 3 (07.12.2015):
    Side scene in Kausani.Also cover Binsar and zero point.
    Overnight stay in Kausani.
    Day 4 (08.12.2015):
    Move to Munsiyari via Baijnath,bageswar,chakori and Thal
    Overnight stay in Munsiyari
    Day 5 (09.12.2015):
    Stay and explore side scene of Munsiyari.
    Day 6 (10.12.2015):
    Leave Munsiyari and reach Almora via Pithoragarh, berinag, Rajagar.Overnight stay in Almora and explore the place.
    Day 7 (11.12.2015):
    Move to Nainital from Almora.
    Do the local side scene in the second half of the day.
    Day 8 (12.12.2015):
    Do the lake tour and ropeway in first half starting from early morning.
    Move to Lalkuan from Nainital and Catch Lalkuan-Howrah weekly SF Express.
    Day 9 (13.12.2015):
    Reach howrah at 7:30 pm.

    We have only 9 day in our hand and want to explore snow, natural beauty and splendid lake view.Please review the plan and suggest if you have anything better than this.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear S. Adhikari,

    Here are my suggestions

    Day 3 – Only do Kausani and Baijanth and other things. Do not do Binsar, now.

    Day 6 – Instead of going to Almora, rather go to Binsar. On Day 7, do Jageshwar and then head towards Nainital.

    Day 7 – Based on how you are managing the cold, you may want to spend the night at sattal/Bhimtal/Naukuchiyatal. They are not as cold as Nainital and are much less crowded.

    All the best.

  • nsharma07 says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Liked your post a lot. Your posts make reader feel like he is there travelling alongside. Feel like visiting this part of Kumaon in coming Oct or Nov. Will that be good time to be there? I may be accompanied by one or two young lads (not sure about taking family there yet).

    Also, do you think i can make it there on my WagonR or does it need some SUV powered with 4X4?

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Hello Mr. Sharma,

      Apologies for a delayed response. I was away during the Oct 2nd long weekend.
      Thank you for your words of praise.

      Oct should be good but Nov would be very cold. As for car, WagonR is an excellent car and as long as you go steady, it should work out fine. Wishes.
      – Nandan

  • hemant kumar saxena says:

    hi nandan. we are planning a trip to binsar and munsiyari.. kindly guide us..
    thanx..
    hemant saxena
    9829051062
    hksaxena99@gmail.com

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