On Nainital and Mukteshwar: A Lake, Deodars and Maple Leaves - part 2 of 2

We left for Mukteshwar at around 11 AM. Somehow it got cloudy again and the roads got under thick white mist. It took a while to drive out of the town since there were many people on the road. Soon it started to drizzle and it felt good. Mukteshwar is at a height of about 7200 ft and is right in the middle of Banj Oak and Deodar forests. The forest is evergreen and mostly covered in mist. You can see that green moss and lichens have taken over the whole forest since it rains here almost every day, even in summer. 

The road goes through Bhowali, which is another settlement on the way but I found that it has been hijacked by too many people and a lot of apartments were being built. The place was almost sold entirely for new construction. I hope they leave a few trees so that the place is recognizable. Crossing Bhowali, you get to Bhatelia which is about 6 kms from Mukteshwar. It is a quaint marketplace similar to almost every mountain market in Uttarakhand. There are fruit shops selling fresh apples, plums and kiwis which are grown in the orchards nearby. The road was lined by apple trees growing in fenced orchards. A few apples find their way outside the fences and they are eaten by children who can jump really high. The apples were big and red, all drenched with rain. You could see the water droplets shine on them, it was sweet. 

In the dense mist, the drive was slow and enjoyable. We could see clouds floating in the valley below, we were gaining altitude and the clouds were getting beneath us. The road was smooth and the trees looked were crooked and beautiful with vines slithering around them like thin green snakes with feathers on their bodies. It was like the whole forest was under a magic spell and made more beautiful under the mist and the clear water droplets on the trees.

We reached Mukteshwar around 2 PM and started to look for a place to stay, I wanted a room with a big window or many windows. I wanted a room on a cliff. We looked at many places, including the government KMVN rest house. It was quite isolated and at the very top but it had an ordinary view. So we went to at least five places before finding the perfect room which had huge windows right on the cliff.

When you walk out on the single road which takes you from one end of the place to the other, you realize that it is a very small settlement in an unreal setting. It is right in the middle of a dense forest where it rains and snows. There is a bank and post office here, at such a beautiful place and for a moment I curse all the people who are lucky to work and live here. However, there were a lot of “Land for sale” boards on vacant lands and orchards. While one can look at them with hope, the other can look at them with sorrow. There are some restaurants which can cook all the fancy food for you. There was no cultural essence in the place, at least from the outside. It is all in for the nature that people come here. If you have time, you can go for a hike to a waterfall called the “Bhaalu Gaad”. I spent a lot of time sitting in an open space staring out the steep cliffs. The clouds kept coming and leaving. They would form right in front of me and then rush upwards to the room and come rushing through the windows and fill the room completely. If you have never felt it or seen it with your own eyes, you would never believe it. The road goes from the beginning where there are few restaurants on the left and a forest on the right.  There are old guesthouses and some abandoned old colonial structures on the right with tall chimneys, now overgrown with grass and shrubs. Kumaon has had more colonial exposure than the other parts of Uttarakhand, while it also shares borders with China and Nepal. Since these places have been used for trace since ancient times, there are a lot of old structures spread throughout the region. I would like to go and see those abandoned structures someday. They might have been rest houses or offices for the British. I have never stayed in a place with chimneys but watching these long stone chimneys makes me happy and nostalgic for a feeling I have never felt before. The white walls of these old buildings are now greenish with moss and looks like painted with old mosaic patterns. A walk can be a long journey if you are watching. You can observe yourself walking in the middle of a forest and for once, you can be one with the brown trees and the grass growing on the road side.

You can walk on stones and on wet fallen leaves and look up to see the forest canopy, with all the trees almost coming close at the top but never touching. Whenever the weather clears, the sunlight comes filtered through the tree leaves and makes crazy patterns like tiger stripes on the road. It is difficult to recognize the essence of a forest or any natural place without respecting and accepting its power over you. We are small and we have existed only for a fraction of time compared to the trees and the forest and the land which has given us these friends. These birds, these flowers, these leaves and these butterflies, unless you are ready to be a humble guest, they will never open up their doors.

Mukteshwar is a magnificent place which fills one with humility and gratitude for the existence of true beauty. The night was beautiful and I slept peacefully. When I woke up it was drizzling, everything had disappeared. The clouds were on a riot but we had to leave. We left while it was raining, again, through the apple orchards and the red apples staring right at us. If you think you are somebody, just walk among the Deodar trees. 

(Post contributed by our friend traveller Nikhil Godiyal)

Vow, what a trail it had been from Nainital to Mukteshwar. Enjoy these delicacies, but remember:
A cleaner environment is an article of faith for us. We owe our future generations a greener and better planet
So do your best to leave these natural wonders in the cleaner state than you leave received on your arrival.

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.

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