Last year I decided to take a break from the city din & drive down to Mukteshwar from Lucknow for a short break with my family .I was told that the road from Sitapur towards Bareilly & Kathgodam is in very bad shape ,so we should avoid taking that road.Therefore after a lot of research I decided to take the following route :
Lucknow-Sitapur-Lakhimpur Kheri-Puranpur-Khatima-Sitarganj-Chorgalia ( by-passing Lalkuan & Haldwani ) -Kathgodam-Bhimtal -Khutani-Padampuri-Mukteshwar.
We were a group of 7 adults & 2 children and on 2nd October,2014 we set out for Mukteshwar at 5 am in one Hyundai i-20 & one Alto K-10 car. The 4 lane highway between Lucknow & Sitapur is superb & we drove at a speed of more than 100 Kms /hour.From Sitapur we took a right turn to Lakhimpur Kheri on a fairly good road and reached Puranpur at 8 am, covering a distance of 225 Kms in 3 hours.Some stretches between Lakhimpur & Puranpur were a bit bumpy but overall the driving experience upto Puranpur was quite good.After a 40 minutes breakfast halt at Puranpur we took the road to Khatima .The Google map showed the road passing through a Tiger Reserve along the picturesque Sharda Canal & we were indeed looking forward to a very exciting journey.
But after travelling for about 15 Kms the nighmare began.The view was gorgeous but the metaled road ( classified as MDR -Major District Road ) began transforming itself into a dirt track ;and all the time we kept moving on ,thinking it to be just a small stretch of bad road.After another 2 Kms , it became un-motorable .There were boulders & deep craters & we had reached a point from where it was not possible to turn back. It seemed that we were driving on the river bed in the hills. It was pathetic. Maximum possible speed was less than 10 km/hr .The cars could have met with a major break down anytime and there was no way to tow the car to a workshop in case of a breakdown.This is the point where we realized,what it would feel to drive on the surface of the moon,with craters that deep. Anyhow, keeping our fingers crossed we kept moving & the moment we entered Uttarakhand the same road became a very smooth metaled road. Roads in Uttarakhand are very well maintained ( unlike U.P.) & driving is always a pleasure , in plains as well as in the hills.I would like to add that such travails could not deter us from stopping for a photo shoot on that terrible stretch of road.The enchanting forest & the hypnotic Sharda Canal were a perfect backdrop for the photo session.
A short distance from Khatima is the beautiful Nanak Sagar, an artificial lake created in the holy sikh town of Nanakmatta. The tranquility of the lake had a soothing effect on us after the nightmarish drive from Puranpur to Khatima.
The road between Chorgalia & Kathgodam passes through lush green forests and it is a treat driving on this stretch.There is very little traffic but over speeding should be avoided as there are numerous humps ( not bumps ) on this road. However,this road should be avoided in the monsoons as a number of seasonal mountain streams cross this road causing disruption due to strong water currents.
As we approached Kathgodam we got the first glimpse of the majestic mountains which was a treat to our parched senses.We reached Kathgodam at 1 pm & after a 5 minutes halt, started for Bhimtal located approxmately 25 kms from Kathgodam .Bhimtal boasts of a beautiful lake but it has become a bit crowded as all the tourists going to Naukuchiatal ( another popular lake resort near Bhimtal ) have to pass thru Bhimtal. A traffic constable advised us to take a mini by-pass at Bhimtal to avoid the crowd there and we finally stopped on a secluded spot on the road in Bhimtal to have lunch that we were carrying in the car. As, photo shoots were a mandatory component of the trip we had a session while having food.We had travelled a distance of 382 Kms from Lucknow and were now fully charged for the 33 Kms uphill climb to Mukteshwar . Mukteshwar is at an altitude of 7500 feet.
( I WILL LIKE TO ADVISE EVERYBODY THAT THERE ARE NO PETROL PUMPS AFTER BHIMTAL AND IF YOU ARE TAKING KHUTANI-PADAMPURI ROUTE TO MUKTESHWAR , YOU SHOULD GET YOUR FUEL TANK FILLED UP AT BHIMTAL SINCE MUKTESHWAR ALSO DOESN’T HAVE A PETROL PUMP).
The breath taking view of the hills and forests made our trip thoroughly enjoyable and the fresh mountain breeze made us forget all our worries .It was a memorable experience travelling on the serpentine road running along deep gorges with towering pine trees along the road .
The road was good but I personally feel that one should take the Bhowali -Ramgarh Road from Bhimtal to Mukteshwar ( instead of Khutani-Padampuri Road ) as it is in excellent condition and offers more picturesque view of the country side.As we approached Mukteshwar we could see a number of Resorts lined up along the road & 4 Kms before Mukteshwar we stopped at a small & beautiful tea stall cum restaurant to have a cup of garam garam chai. Finally at 4.30 pm ( approx.425 Kms from Lucknow ) we reached KMVN Tourist Rest House,Mukteshwar which is located at the end of the road,just above the PWD Inspection Bungalow & offers a magnificent & panaromic 180 degrees view of the Himalayas.
The reception at the Rest House was warm , staff courteous & helpful , rooms very good . After checking in, we decided to visit the famous Mukteshwar Temple located at a walking distance from the Hotel .One has to climb a lot of stairs to reach the temple. The dinner that was served later in the night was vegetarian but savory ( they serve vegetarian food only at KMVN Tourist Rest House but you will definitely relish it ) at which time the staff members suggested that we should also go & watch the Ram Lila at a place located close to IVRI and oh boy…. it was great fun.Almost all the guests of the hotel were there , enjoying the Ram Lila.The two little ones in our group had a nice time there and it is indeed a pity that we miss out all these activities in cities & metros. An effigy of Ravan was also kept in a corner in the Ram Lila ground & the 2 year old member of our group kept bowing to it presuming it to be another God. The next day went for a trek (where we experienced the beauty of the nature..walking through the jungles, where we had a brief encounter with a beautiful snake) & spent a lot of time sitting in the garden enjoying the spectacular & pristine Himalayan view .
The words cannot describe the beauty of this place. One has to visit it to experience the beauty and peace this place offers.
I’m sure if you visit this place, you would never want to come back to the stressful city life…