Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Trip to Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand

The last bike trip had been that of Leh-Ladakh in June 2015, so this bike trip was in mind since long and made me immensely restless after reading through 20 places to go on a summer vacation in India26 places to visit near Delhi and offbeat weekend hillstations around Delhi.

I started filtering out places where I can go out for a day or two to just enjoy the scenic beauty and lower my craving for a bike trip since long. I wanted to go a place where there were less crowd as it was a scorching heat in NCR and everyone seem to elope to a hillstation.

Out of the list, Mukteshwar was finalized as I hadn't been there ever and the distance also seemed fair for a bike ride. We were four of us Ashish, Anurag, Sumit and myself, who started on two bikes, my Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS and Ashish's Royal Enfield 350 Classic.

Late night riding to Hapur

We started our trip late night from Noida home around 12:30 AM. The plan was to reach Kathgodam by morning ( a distance of ~270kms) so that we can start ascending further in the morning hours.

The route chosen was Noida - Hapur - Moradabad - Rampur - Rudrapur - Haldwani - Kathgodam - Bhimtal - Dhanachuli - Mukteshwar.

Noida to Rampur was a simple stretch with well laid roads via NH 24 - NH 9 - Moradabad Bareilly Expressway. Only few drizzles along the way which made the ride more pleasant.
Some lightning and scattered thunderstorms

At Rampur, 5:00 AM
Fields near Rampur

After Rampur, around 5 AM in the morning, the road conditions changed drastically with 1-2 feet long potholes and broken down road. The 35 KM stretch of Rampur to Rudrapur was so bad, it took us 1.5hr to cross it.

After crossing Rudrapur, there is a left turn which turns towards the Haldwani road and the road is suddenly engulfed in a forest with trees overshadowing the entire road. That was one wonderful experience as the road was full of flora all way along.
Rudrapur to Haldwani

Can't miss to click this!

We reached Kathgodam at 6AM. The first sight of the Kumaon hills add more to the excitement within. Mukteshwar was 65KMs from here now.

We started our ascend in order to reach our destination by 10. From Ranibagh (2kms) the road towards right takes you to Mukteshwar. The straight road would take you to Nainital. We crossed Bhimtal, then took a right U-turn from Kutani towards Bhatelia-Dhanachuli road. After Kutani the clouds surrounded the hilly roads and it started drizzling along the way.

Near Kutani

We took a small halt under a shade near Dhanachuli as it started raining heavily and it was difficult to ride. Some pics that we took here are below:

Captivating view!

After Dhanchuli, you have to turn towards left for Bhatelia. We reached Mukteshwar at around 9:30 AM. After checking-in to the Homestay, we went for a stroll in the town and returned after having lunch.
Our Homestay at Mukteshwar
Beautiful Flora at homestay

The dining area
Mukteshwar, being a very small town in the district of Nainital, is loved by tourists who are looking for crowd-free and small escape hill station. Mukteshwar is famous for a temple named after Shiv (Mukti-Eeshwar). There is "Choli ki Jaali" which is famous for its mountain rocks and cliffs overlooking the valley. After visiting these we came back to have a nap.

At "Choli ki Jaali"
At "Choli ki Jaali"

At evening when we woke up, the warm sunset right outside the window welcomed us. It was so soothing and relieving to see such a warm sight after so long. I was really craving for such moments. Sipping evening tea with a sunset view atop a hill.

Beautiful sunset view from homestay
Had dinner outside at a cafe on the outskirts. We tried "Bhatt ki Churdkani", a local Kumaoni dish made from black beans. It was good. 

Bhatt ki Churkani, a Kumaoni delicacy

Had bonfire at night

At night we had a bonfire and just sat back and relaxed our souls in the warmth of the bonfire and listening to the clear audible sounds of the nature, winds rustling through the trees and any honk of a vehicle from the valley. It was so quiet and serene that you could listen to people talking to each other at a distance. Exactly what I was looking for - Peace.
how can Maggi be missed here!

We sat near the bonfire till 1 AM in the night and then went to get some sleep.

In the morning, we got up to have our breakfast and it was the day to head back to Noida after pitstopping at known landmarks on the way. We went for a short trek to Mukteshwar temple and then had to start our day.

Morning breakfast - "Aloo ke Gutkhe" with tea.

On way to Mukteshwar Temple
Mukteshwar Temple

Started at 11:30 AM after enquiring about places to visit on the route, we took the road via Bhowali. It was such a pleasant drive through in the Bhowali ranges. Some pictures from the drive:

Leaving Mukteshwar
Bhowali Hills

We reached Bhimtal at 1PM but it was too crowdy and cars jammed the roads. We didn't stay there for long and moved forward to Naukuchiatal. It was much better staying at homestay at Mukteshwar than visiting these places as they were really crowded.
view of Bhimtal from a distance

Didn't stay for quite long at Naukuchiatal too. We started our return journey to Kathgodam and reached the same at 4:30PM. After having lunch at the outskirts of Haldwani, we headed back to Noida. Reached Noida home at 9:30 PM.

It was really a much needed break for me and Mukteshwar proved to be a perfect spot to enjoy the calmness and beauty of Mother Nature.