Another long weekend arrives. Going impromptu for a few days drive becomes entirely doable. Mukteshwar is another quiet resort in the Kumaon Hills, that is exceptionally beautiful. It is around 380 kms from Delhi. The road up to Kathgodam is same as you travel if you go to Binsar . The first leg by NH 24 to Rampur and then by NH 87 to Kathgodam. You would have to drive for seven hours to reach Kathgodam but you can also take the night bus or an overnight train Ranikhet Express from Old Delhi to reach Kathgodam by 6.15 next morning.
From Kathgodam you drive another two hours, or take a cab if you have come by train. It is around 60 kilometers away and an enjoyable drive up the picturesque Kumaon hills as you go past Bhimtal to reach Mukteshwar.
The cold of 7513 feet is intense
Do carry enough woolens as it gets unbearable chilly in the rains, and you meet the cold and gutsy Himalayan winds head on. Of course the mountain views you get makes it worthwhile, but the cold is unexpected and bone chilling. Do get a hotel booking in advance as safari tents are not advisable during the monsoon. You can get the details of hotels from the Internet or the KMVN office at Delhi.
Peaks to watch
Like Binsar, you can watch several of the Himalayan peaks on a clear day. There is the Panchchuli a congregation of five Himalayan peaks can be seen jostling with each other. Legend says that these are volcanic peaks and Bhim is said to have used it as a clay oven or Chulha to cook for the five Pandavas while they trekked up the path to heaven.
Apart from this you can watch the Nandakot at 22,510 feet that is visible during clear skies. If you are lucky and the sun shines brightly then maybe you can see the high twin peaks of Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi at 25,646 feet. Also to watch is the trident of Shiva that comprises of the three peaks of Trishul at 23,360 feet and several other snow-capped mountains.
The Mukteshwar Temple
The temples in this hilly region of Uttarakhand are many and each temple is associated with a legend and often a local spin to the myth. Atop a hill at the edge of the town is the century old Mukteshwar temple of Shiva. The trek up the hill offers the breath taking view of the Himalayas. A little further away is the Chauthi Jali, a rocky cliff that juts out around 500 feet from the mountain terrain behind the temple. It offers a breath taking view of the sunrise and sunset and the dropping rock face, but is a place where you need to be careful especially during monsoons.