From there we then headed straight for Haldwani, from where we boarded our train to Howrah. A day later, we were back to the plains of Kolkata…. It had been one of the most memorable experiences of our lives - the road trips, the sunrise and sunsets, the majestic mountain peaks, the temple and the forests, the people we met were simply amazing.
In a nut-shell
Total members in our group (family & relatives) - 18
Tour type - Self-managed family tour
Away from hustle and bustle of a metro city - October 17 to October 25, 2015
Tour expense (per head) - Rs 12,500/-
Day 1 – Howrah (Durgiana SF express)
Day 2 – Nainital (Howrah to Moradabad by train; Moradabad – Nainital by hired car**)
Day 3 – Dinapani (via Nainital – Binsar - Dinapani)
Day 4 – Munsiyari (via Dinapani – Patal Bhuvaneshwar – Munsiyari)
Day 5 – Munsiyari
Day 6 – Chaukori (via Munsiyari – Birthi – Chaukori )
Day 7 – Mukteshwar (via Chaukori – Jageshwar Dham – Mukteshwar )
Day 8 – Haldwani (via Mukteshwar – Naukuchiatal - Haldwani )
Day 9 – Howrah (by Lal Kuan – Howrah SF Express)
** It was difficult to find hired cars for Nainital from Moradabad. Kathgodam or Bareily are the preferred and convenient choices as rail head to Nainital.
Nainital – KMVN TRH, Tallital – 1 night
Dinapani – KMVN TRH – 1 night
Munsiyari – Hotel Leela Mount View – 2 nights
Chaukori – KMVN TRH – 1 night
Mukteshwar – KMVN TRH – 1 night
(KMVN TRH = Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam , Tourist Rest House)
Vehicle & roads:-
Vehicle used – Two rented Mahindra Bolero (s) throughout our journey from Nainital to Haldwani Railway Station
Total distance travelled ~ 1000 kms
Chauffeur-cum-guides – Chandan ji (contact no. 9410956568) and Prem ji (both from Nainital district)
Road conditions – Throughout our journey, road condition varied between good to great. Thumbs up to local authorities for their good job !
Phone connectivity & WiFi:-
We didn’t face issues with cellular network. Barring a few isolated cases, network (most of us had Vodafone or Airtel connection) was good throughout our entire tour.
I don’t remember whether or not the KMVN TRHs were WiFi enabled. We simply didn't need it !
If Wifi is absolutely necessary for you while checking in a hotel, kindly verify with respective KMVN officials. You can get all the necessary contacts by visiting the link provided here - http://www.kmvn.gov.in/contacts/index/23
Must do things while visiting Kumaon :-
Here is a list of things one should consider exploring while visiting Kumaon....These may prove to be your fondest memories - without an expiry date !
Watersports on Bhimtal or Naukuchiatal (separated by roughly 7 kms) - not frequented by many (compared to Naini Lake), these serene lakes amidst gorgeous mountains is heaven within your reach
Paragliding near Naukuchiatal - one of the few places in India where you can have this lifetime experience
Walk through the forests of Binsar - be mesmerised by the timeless beauty of the alpine forests , birding along and photographing (without flash :) ) as you go
Pay a day visit to the amazing caves of Patal Bhuvaneshwar - should be an unforgettable journey
On the way to Munsiyari, stop for few minutes at Kalamuni Pass - you shall find a mind boggling view of the Panchchulli peaks in front of you, and below would find numerous hair pin loops running along the mountains
From Munsiyari, can go for a trek to Khaliya Top - you can start early in the morning and come back same day if you are fit enough. Though, to and fro distance of the trek would be only 13-14 kms, its steep all along. So it would be an arduous trek for a beginner. But the view from the top would let anyone forget all the pain suffered along the trekking trail !
Visit Nanda Devi temple, near Munsiyari - find yourself surrounded on all sides by lofty mountains
Hike around 250 metres up to the nearest point of Birthi Falls (30 kms from Munsiyari) and try to spot the rainbow over the falls, if you are lucky enough, though !
Visit wonderful tea gardens in Chaukori - a virgin beauty
Visit the ASI maintained ancient temples of Jageshwar bordering alpine forests in the Almora district
Visit the temple of highly revered Golu Devata (Ghanti wala mandir) at Chitai, ~7 kms from Almora city. Devotees here tie bells of different sizes, all along the temple complex. They also write their ardent prayers on sheet of paper and tie it along with the bells, with a strong belief that their prayer would definitely be answered
Taste Bal Mithai (a sweet prepared with khoya and cane sugar) - a speciality in Almora and neighbouring area
Visit IVRI at Mukteshwar. Pay a visit to Mukteshwar temple - highest point of the area. Walk along the village road and admire the beauty of the fruit orchards and cottages of British era
Photograph Haldwani city lights at night, from Mukteshwar - an amazingly beautiful view !