Going Crazy in Mukteshwar and Nainital

The trip to Mukteshwar was born out of our strong desire to go somewhere. Anywhere. We started with a plan for Dharamshala, moved to Rafting in Rishikesh, and, at last, zeroed in on Mukteshwar. Main reasons for choosing Mukteshwar were:

1) Relative nearness to Delhi (10 hrs drive in a Qualis)
2) The fact that none of the group members had been there
3) It sounded peaceful

So after basic planning (booking hotel rooms and a cab), we started on Friday Night at 11:00 PM. The road from Delhi to Kathgodam is pretty bad so it definitely wasn’t a smooth ride. The journey till Kathgodam was uneventful and many of us (esp. the ones in the middle seat) spent it catching up on their sleeps. As for the front rider and the unfortunate fellows sitting at the back, they spent their time trying to keep others awake.

The drive from Kathgodam to Mukteshwar is very scenic with breathtaking views of Bhimtaal and lush green valleys. The end of spring and a sunny morning also meant vividly colored trees and the sweet fragrance of flowers blooming in the morning. In spite of having hardly slept during the night, we were wide awake during this drive. Except some people in the middle seat who were sound asleep all through.

We had booked our rooms in Krishna Orchard Resort which is about 5km from the 0 milestone of Mukteshwar. I would like to specifically mention here that the resort is reasonable, location is good, rooms are comfortable with excellent views, and the staff is extremely helpful. I will gladly recommend this resort to anyone who goes there with family or friends.

Krishna Orchard

We reached the resort, had our breakfast, got ready real quick, and headed to our first adventure, a trek in a jungle. This is a 1.5 km long trail into the deodar jungles and locals recommend that you should take a guide with you. But, brave as we were, we ignored the suggestions and headed out on our own. The trail started with a muddy track and quickly transformed into a moss covered ‘pagdandi’ amongst the tall deodar trees. I am sure we went much farther than 1.5 kms and the trail became increasingly dangerous with each step. Though most of the young members of the group were excited about going further or taking alternate paths through the jungle, sensible (a.k.a. not-so-young) members ushered them back. The entire trek took about 3 hours to and fro and the only sound during the entire duration was a chorus of unidentified birds and the winds amongst the trees. You cannot believe what a racket these can create!!
Jungle

Our next stop was Mukteshwar Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. We expected a crowded, monkey-infested place but instead found a very quiet, little temple set aside at a great height looking down upon the deep ravines and valley and, surprisingly, no monkeys. The place was so tranquil that half of us drifted out alone and used the opportunity to reflect upon our lives. Rest of us were wondering how to ask them to make it quick without sounding rude.
Mandir

After that, we set out for a little walk towards “Chauli Jali” which is the most spectacular place in Mukteshwar. Grey rocks jut out of moss covered green hills into nothingness. While sitting here, you feel that you are on the terrace of the world. Though I do not like people engraving their names on such places, the name of one Christian couple caught my attention. The date that was engraved beneath their names was 1969. I don’t know why, but it really touched my heart.

Booking.com

Chauli Jali

Anyways, the main reason for us to visit “Chauli Jali” was to view the sunset. But we were in for a surprise when we found that we had the opportunity to do Mountain Climbing and Rappelling. Brave ones amongst us (which means everyone else except me) opted for mountain climbing. The total height to be scaled was about 30 ft and there was only one narrow rocky ledge between you and the bottomless ravine.

Mountain Climbing

Next we tried rappelling. This is where the cowards (me) stepped in too. With my fear of heights, it was a huge deed for me. Everyone else did it quite easily. The height from where we had to go down was 40 ft and again only a narrow ledge between us and the valley. For me, it was a near death experience when the instructor told me to push my body back towards the valley with my feet at the edge of the cliff.
Rappelling

And yes, the sunset was spectacular too.
Sunset

After this we headed back to the resort where we had asked for a bonfire. We had to share this with another family. The resort had a karaoke machine that gave you scores based on how well you are able to match your words with the tune of a song. Some of us tried our luck with this. Rest of the time was spent playing dumb charades and the usual antakshari with the family with whom we shared the bonfire. After dinner, we walked around the resort that was surrounded by trees and bushes that looked decidedly spooky at night and the cowards amongst us (me again) freaked out at the first mention of a ghost. After long walks and some heart-to-heart discussions in the room, we slept at 1:30 AM.

The next morning started early at 6:00 AM when we started out for a morning walk. This was a 5-6 km trek, half of it uphill. This is where, I think, we finally lost it. We took turns imitating the koel with each subsequent ‘koohoo’ at a higher pitch than the previous. Soon the valley was echoing with the songs of four completely out-of-tune koels who instigated all the dogs within a radius of 4 kms to start barking. I guess we were not really popular in Mukteshwar after this and decided to leave right after the breakfast.

But this is not where the craziness ended.

The distance between Nainital and Mukteshwar is about 35 kms. We had come about 5 kms when some of us started feeling sick. We got out of our car and decided to walk some distance till we got better. It was a comfortable down-hill trek and the weather was pleasant. Hand-pumps had been installed at regular intervals and the water from these was really sweet. We asked our cab driver to go on for 5 kms and wait for us there. After 5 kms, we did not feel like getting into the cab so sent it forward again. We ended up walking about 20 kms downhill till we reached Bhowali. On the way, we played the ‘koel’ game again with the same response from all the Dogs in the valley. We also made it a point to drink water from every hand pump on the way.

Nainital was just 10 kms from Bhowali and the road went uphill. So we decided to board the cab at last. Nainital meant the usual activity of walking around the Naini Lake, One hour in peddle boats and a shopping spree on the mall road. One thing we discovered was that the maximum capacity of the boats available in the whole of Nainital is 4 people + the row man. We had to hire a two seater and a 4 seater for the six of us. We had our dinner at a pure-vegetarian restaurant called “Naani-Naanu”. The food was not so great but the prices were reasonable.

Boating in Nainital

We started from Nainital towards Delhi at about 9:00 PM on Sunday and reached Noida at 5:30 AM on Monday.

Trip Summary:

No. of People: 6
Nature of the trip: Spiritual, Religious, Adventurous
Total Duration from Delhi to Delhi: 3 nights/2 days
Total hours of sleep: 7.5 hours
Meals per day: 2 (Brunch + Dinner)
Total Distance travelled: 750 kms
Total Distance travelled on foot: 40 kms
Total Expenditure: A little above 3000 per head
No of Cameras: 4
Total No of Pics taken: >500
The Group

  • :) seems like you guys had lot of fun. I didn’t know that you can do rappelling at Chauli Jaali.

    Did you guys not go to KMVN guest house ? Actually just outside KMVN guest house there is a good view point, from where you can see Trishul and other peaks. They have a very nice stone-engraved illustration as well, right at that spot, that helps you to identify whats what. You get a panaromic view.

    I been there few years back, we were on the way to Binsar and mostly used Mukteshwar for rest and to relax and do nothing.

    Hang around. You sort of disappeared from ghumakkar.

  • RamP

    Nice write up!
    yeah, It was a nice trip, except that we didn’t get to talk to any ghost.

  • Ram Dhall

    Beautiful description. Some good pictures, especially the one of the grey rocks is simply captivating.

    Would look forward to your next post.

  • Priyavrat

    Nice story and boy I am sure you must have had a great time…walking in hills and jungle is fun anytime. Each turn you take gives you a new view.
    From Bhowali, I think around 10-15 kms is Saat Taal, I find this place very exotic. Quite, peaceful, wild, deep waters and you can go for Kayaking, deep water swimming in the lakes, river crossing, rock climbing and if u try this out in rainy seasons and unlimited supply of leaches :), you will realise the presence of leaches only when u feel the hot blood gushing out from somewhere :))
    One thing which I have observed in all the pics in Garhwal/Kumain region that I have clicked and saw in this story as well, the colors do not come very sharp. Any particular reason? The camera that I have is a Canon IS 5S and normaly the results are pretty good.

  • Neerja Dhall

    Your account is very vivid and has indeed refreshed my memory of Mukteshwar.

    It’s a very scenic and serene place but I couldnt manage to see much during my visit because of time constraints. I am sure you know that there are many legends and myths associated with Mukteshwar……..one of it being, that lord Shiva bestowed immortality on a demon here.

    I was not aware that you can do trekking and rappelling at Chauli Jalias we just visited the place for the view………which indeed is “picturesque” in the evening and “nerve-racking” during late evenings ………The bizarre angle at which rocks just poke out of the hills is overwhelming!

    Once again…Thanks for sharing your experience!!!!

  • I guess one reason for the pics not coming out well is that the weather was not really clear. Otherwise also I have seen that pics in Himachal come out better

  • Vijay

    I agree with few others who said that they were not aware of rappelling and rock climbing at Mukteshwar. When i went with my wife nearly a year ago, we got our accommodation booked at the IVRI guest house (which is conspicuously not mentioned in this write up) through one of our contacts. The best place to stay is the PWD guest house facing the hills and the second best would be the IVRI guest house (V.O.B.Annexe). Chaulli jali is a short walk from there and its adjacent the Shiva temple. Nothing much to do at Mukteshwar except laze around. The IVRI campus is fabulous and vast and a walk within it (no special permission needed) is strongly recommended!!

  • JNATH

    We drove up to Mukteswar, last year in October–as I said we look for quiet -places–and we loved it-.The place we stayed was heaven We diodint,frankly cared for Krishna Hotel- which was a multi story concrete hotel like any in towns. Going to Mukteshwar and staying KRISHNA, IS NOT MY IDEA.We stayed just about 3 km before the town and about 2km away from Krishna in a rough and ready resort “SOMERSET LODGE” .Its right in the Plum & Apple orchard, run byVIMAL mahara,who is a mountaineer and an artist. Food was great and freshly cooked whenever you want and as much as want PLUS break Plums and eat them.Camp fire at night with lights out in the open surrounded by hills. Anyone whjo wants to contact Vimal can do atphone 05942-286165(Lodge) (Resi-286507). JATINDER SETHI

  • Yes, we were very near the IVRI guest house but decided not to go there as it was already pretty late by the time we completed the trek from Chauli Jali and Mukteshwar Temple. Trishul and the snow-covered himalayas mentioned by Nandan were not visible because of the light mist all around.

    We did see Somerset Lodge during our morning walk and the camps looked inviting. Never-the-less we had a great time at Krishna as we hardly stayed there. We were mostly out on our feet. :-)

    Thanks to all for reading the writeup. Mukteshwar is a great place :-)

  • Bhooma

    I like the humour in your write up very much.You have really conveyed how much you have enjoyed.

  • Thanks Bhooma,

    I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • Nice… almost like what we did when we rode till Mukteshwar. but our trip was marred by almost torrential rains with winds gusting upto 40 kmph… scary to venture out in such conditions…

    Imagine doing rappeling and rock climbing with a gaping 2000 ft drop below… Tough luck with the PWD lawns… would have been a mind boggling view of the snow capped peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, Pancha Chuli and Annapurna…. we were lucky enough to be able to see them when we decided to detour there while coming back…

  • Yes, I have seen those peaks from Ranikhet. They were magnificient.

  • Anil

    Hi Vibha,

    Very engaging read. A couple of us families are going there tomorrow. Am really looking forward to enjoying our trip. Thanks for the blog.

    Anil

  • JATINDER SETHI

    Vibha says “she saw the camps which were inviting” but that not the Somerset Lodge. The lodge is further down,right inside the orchard. It has about 20rooms with attached bath,single story, with kids play-room asnd kids library with dinning hall, and good parking space, As faras her trek into jungle–if its thesame which look like the Corbet–that really leads onto the road which takes you to Almora. And just inside the jungle,just before the Anmora road there is anothe r beautiful resort –SITLA ESTATE run by Vikram Maira.who used to work in advertising agency in Mumbai. Lovely Khumanis .fresh from the trees,Pity is that Vikram normally like to book the whole resort of 7 double rooms to one party.Normally Bombay ad.agency people fix up their seminars there..
    All this info, with the idea of sharing it with your future readers who may be interested–the idea is not to bore. Jatinder Sethi

  • manish khamesra

    Beautiful write-up Vibha. You have generated lots of interest in people and reminded them of their beautiful experience and made them come forward to share their experience/tips. I think its the beauty of good write-up and for readers like me, we know of so many good options. Thanks to Jatinderji, Nandan and Vijay.

    Chauli Jaali seems to be a very inviting place. Views from here should be superb. It was also interesting to know that finally you ended walking for about 40 Kms. A great achievement :)

    Pictures, experience and description of rappelling and rock climbing too make the whole description awesome.

    Looking forward to read more from you …

  • My parents have been living in Nainital (Haldwani to be more precise), for the last couple of years. Whenever college schedule has given me some free time, i have always rushed back home to get as much of nainital as possible. Such is the charm of the place :)
    Last year, i also had the pleasure of visiting Mukteshwar. But the trip i made was relatively a very short one as i didn’t have much time at my disposal. Also, since i made the trip by car, my trip was nowhere near as adventurous as yours was (Given that you people did a lot of rappelling and rock climbing). Your description has brought back those fond memories and i am pining to get back to the hills. I had also thoroughly enjoyed the Mukteshwar trip and blogged about it.
    http://fitsoffantasy.blogspot.com/search?q=mukteshwar
    Btw, did you people also see Bhawali on your way?

  • Anand

    JNNATH is right. Although Mukteshwar is very, very good, but this concrete building of Krishna Orchard resort has spoilt it. The resorts in hill stations should take care to match the architecture with the surroundings. Somerset Lodge, Mountain Trail, Camp Purple etc. are better private options. Of course who can match the locations of KMVN & IVRI accomodations?
    Moreover, the distance between Mukteshwar and Nainital is 52 kms and not 35. But very nice post otherwise. Although I had been to Mukteshwar twice earlier, I didn’t know there was rock climbing and rappelling at Chauthi Jali. thanks for the information.

  • JATINDER SETHI

    Hello Anand. Can you let me know where thisKMVN & IVRI places are as we plan to go back to Mukteshwar some time later,–though we like Somerset Lodge. Also how to contact them.Please.Thanks.

  • Jatinder – KMVN is right at the point from where one takes a look at Trishul and all the hills. You can book the resort and get more information from this website http://kmvn.org/admin/trhdetails.aspx?Destination=Mukteshwar

    Anand would have more info on IVRI and Somerset. I am not too sure how often he checks this site so if you dont hear back from him, I would try to send a small note.

  • JATINDER SETHI

    Thanks, Nandan. I think I would still love to stay at Somerset Lodge, the place we know,Thanks again for the info.

  • Shilpa

    Hey, it seems, u ppl go out frequently… I must say, nice photographs with nice write-up…

  • Vibha

    Thanks Shilpa, We do try to go out often though it is not as frequent as we would like it to be. :-)

  • Because of this comment I read this story again, though more of quick browse-n-read and I think you should write more.

    Its a good distraction from the usual mundane stuff.

  • Landed here while researching on Mukteshwar. Looks like you guys really went crazy in Mukteshwar :)

    Enjoy
    Sruti

  • rohit

    Hi we visited mukteshwar quite some time back and enjoyed our stay. We stayed at Om mountain resort which was around 9 kms from mukteshwar temple passing through the IVRI forest. There was 180 degrre himalyan view from the rooms and they say that satkhole is the place from where one can enjoy complete himalayan view. We enjoyed bonfire with guitarist. Even our 2 year old was having fun there. Overall it was peaceful and very nice

  • Sourabh

    How much time it takes to go to mukteshwar from kathgodam? Actually i need to know from nainital to mukteshwar .

  • Hi Sourabh,

    It took us a little more than one hour to get there. But that was mainly because we had to make frequent stops because of some of us feeling sick and also because our cab driver was inexperienced on mountains.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Vibha

  • vinay k dhingra

    Dear all,

    It takes around two hours to reach mukteshwar from kathgodam, there are two routes available one through bhimtal via bhatelia and another through bhowali and ramgarh.

  • JATINDER SETHI

    Hello Vibha/ Any one elsepeepin here,please…

    We had gone to Mukteshwar in October2006,as my comments above show. NOW, we are booked atMountain Trail ,from Good Friday,the 6th April to 10th.(Not fooling on !st). WOULD LIKE ANY NEW INFO about the
    ROAD CONDITIONS.I understand that one doesnt have to go through RUDERPUR/RAMPUR as there is a By-Pass.
    Last time we went by SWING, this time its SKODA(Octavia)
    WELCOME ANY LATEST LATEST INFO–if any one listening/peeping.Nandan ?

  • sanjay dhingra

    Hi all of u.i m planning to go to mukteshwar.just i want to know is how is road from delhi to kathgodam nowadays since ur post is of 2009.please guide lf possible.

    • JATINDER SETHI

      Hello Sanjay
      , Nice to know you are planning to drive down to Mukteshwar. First SEE MY post here”Mukteshwar Revisited,” as we drove down as recently as the Good-Friday Week-End(March 6 to March10)
      Roads with all the by-passes are pretty good and you can average about 70kmph(if you are not a rash driver)
      At few places,however,roads are being widened/carriageways being expended. Two place where the roads are little rough are–just before Ruderpur——Why don’t you read my Post here at ghumakkar.
      Two good places to stay(my take) are Somerset Lodge and Mountain Trail.
      If U need more ,ask.

  • Alin

    Information is helpful.
    You are beautiful:)

  • Of Course Mukteshwar is the only best place near Delhi-NCR where you can see the natural beauty. Here, you can enjoy Fruit Orchards, Greenery, Himalayan ranges, Cool weather round the year and lonely and quiet place to explore.

    You can book Cottages in Mukteshwar for your coming holidays.

  • Dear Vibha,

    Hilarious, I must say! A ‘beautiful’ smile interspersed with roaring laughters at every 3rd or 4th sentence stayed on my face throughout. Reason of going through this post was my desire to know a bit more about Nainital and Mukteshwar where I have a wish to go to.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience. The ‘koel game’ is really worth trying here in Company Bagh, Saharanpur also.

    Regards,
    Sushant Singhal

  • Anubhav

    Hi , Krishna orchard rooms /hotel was haunted and whole night our family was scared as everyone felt someone else in their rooms and spend the whole night together …
    So it a big No to stay there ever and suggest every one not to stay there,especially in duplex rooms

  • 8 years gone, a lot has not changed. I can still see all of you on a lot of days. :-)

    • Hey Nandan, because of your comment I read this post again. Brought back a lot of happy memories. The fact that so many people I have known for years are still around all the time, is a constant source of comfort for me. Touchwood!