Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand

19th Feb 2020

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

Ever since i started solo travelling i have been wowed by photos of Valley of Flowers, Almora, Munsyari and many such places in Uttarakhand but never had done a backpacking trip here. So when 2020 started i decided this would be the first place i want to travel to. I had 10-12 days in February for this trip and didn't want to add many locations. So after some googling and reading blogs i decided on travelling to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and places i planned on staying where Kasar Devi, Chaukori and Munsyari. Once the locations and itinerary were finalized, i booked my flight and train tickets and also booked my stay in Kasar Devi and Chaukori. For my stay in Munsyari i thought of looking for options once i reach there.

Now let me fast forward to the first day of trip.

Day 1:-

I took an afternoon flight from Pune to Delhi and after changing 2 metros reached Old Delhi railway station. With still 4 hours remaining for the train to arrive i sat in a corner outside the railway station listening to songs and watching videos on youtube. An hour before the train arrival i went to check the platform on which the train would arrive.

But unfortunately the display wasn't working and the people i asked were clueless on which platform the train arrives. Finally after asking few people came to know the platform number and minutes later the train arrived. I had taken Ranikhet Express which goes till Kathgodam and the plan was to get down at Kathgodam itself. But the person sitting next to me told its better if i get down at Haldwani since the buses and sumos to Almora start from there. My seat was lower berth and the fact that i had 2 backpacks and no one to keep a watch on it kept me awake for most of the night.

Day 2:-

The train was on time and reached Haldwani at 4am. There were hardly any street lights outside the railway station. I asked a fellow passenger directions to the bus stand and he told me to walk with him and within 10 minutes we were at the bus stand. On reaching the bus stand there was already a bus to Almora waiting and it got crowded very quickly, but i did manage to get a seat. The bus left at 5am.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 1/21 by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 2/21 by Adarsh

We did stop once for tea break, but since the journey was not that long i thought of having my breakfast at the hostel itself. The roads were in good condition and the journey was comfortable and it took 3 hours to reach Almora. Now from Almora i had to go even further to Kasar Devi where i had booked my stay for first 2 nights. A local guy pointed me to the sumo stand from where sumos for Kasar Devi depart. By 9am i reached Kasar Devi and in next 10 minutes i reached HOTS Hostel.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 3/21 by Adarsh
They had named her Shanti. This is the view from HOTS Kasar Devi
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 4/21 by Adarsh
HOTS Kasar Devi

I was very hungry by the time i reached the hostel, so ordered some breakfast and in the meanwhile sat on the bench overlooking the vast landscape and the blue skies. After having my breakfast and resting for sometime i got ready and started walking towards Kasar Devi temple. On the way i met a local who told me the directions to the temple, but few minutes later the same guy came on his bike and offered to drop me till the temple. From there it was an easy 5-10 minute walk uphill to entry of the temple. The premises of the temple were peaceful, clean and properly maintained and offers a good view of the mountains.I spend around 2 hours in the temple premises after which i had lunch at a hotel near the main road.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 5/21 by Adarsh
Kasar Devi Temple
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 6/21 by Adarsh

The walk from hotel to hostel took me around 30-40 minutes. I noticed lot of cafes and homestays on the stretch from temple to hostel but there were hardly any tourists that time and thanks to that the walk was peaceful. Once i reached the hostel i spend rest of the evening talking with other travellers staying at the hostel and sharing stories of our travels. We had a delicious dinner and spend few hours chit chatting before calling it a day.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 7/21 by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 8/21 by Adarsh

Day 3:-

The plan for today was to goto Binsar, but it was raining continuously from morning. But i didn't want to spend my entire day at the hostel,so after having my breakfast,i put on my jacket,took my bag and started walking from the hostel towards Binsar with the hope of finding someone going in that direction to give me a lift. But even after an hour of walking no passing vehicles stopped and neither did the rain stop. So i decided to turn back and walked in the direction of Kasar Devi temple to find a cafe to spend some time.

But after walking in rain for almost 3 hours i was bored to walk any more, so i stopped by a hotel on the way for lunch where they had lit a small bonfire. Spend some time talking with other guys at the hotel before heading back to the hostel. The rain finally stopped in evening and it got very cold by then. Thankfully the common area of hostel had an heater and that's where i spend remaining day after which i had my dinner and went off to bed.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 9/21 by Adarsh
Just after the rains
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 10/21 by Adarsh

Day 4:-

It was time to move to my 2nd destination of the trip which was Chaukori.After finishing my breakfast and paying the bill i went to the main road to find a bus or sumo which would drop me till Bageshwar. Within 10 minutes, i got a sumo heading to Bageshwar. The road conditions and weather were good and with just 3 people in the sumo the journey was a comfortable one. But Chaukori was still far.

After getting down at Bageshwar i was told i need to get an another sumo till a place called Kanda. An another passenger who was with me till Bageshwar was kind enough to walk with me to the other sumo stand which too around 10 minutes. But since i was the first passenger in that sumo had to wait for over an hour till the sumo filled up.Now this sumo dropped me at a point from where i had to catch another sumo. I don't even remember the name of the place where the 2nd sumo dropped me.But the 3rd sumo was already waiting and ready to leave.So i quickly ran with my 2 backpacks and sat in the last row. Now this was a 30 minute bumpy ride. At first i thought the sumo would drop me till Chaukori, but i was wrong. Again i had to get on an another sumo and this was the 4th one for the day.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 11/21 by Adarsh
My room in Kaaphal Homestay
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 12/21 by Adarsh

Once again i was the first passenger in the sumo. Even after 30-40 minutes no other passenger arrived and by that time i was exhausted and hungry. I asked the sumo driver how much will he charge to drop me till homestay. At first he told 250, but finally agreed on 200 for a 8km trip. From the point where the sumo dropped me it was a 5 minute walk to reach the homestay where the owner of homestay Tarun was waiting for me. I stayed at Kaaphal Homestay which is in the middle of a jungle surrounded by trees and lots of birds. Also i got a room which had huge glass windows with beautiful views of the jungle around. After freshening up and having a delicious meal i rested for sometime. Later tarun showed me around the place and lit a small bonfire where we spend almost an hour talking before heading off to dinner and calling it a day.

Day 5:-

My day started at 7am with a herbal tea,cool breeze and the chirping sound of birds. But after that i really didn't have any plans. So i walked up the nearby hill which gave a good view of Chaukori and areas nearby. I spend almost an hour at the top after which it started raining and had to take shelter under the trees. And once the rain stopped came back to my room and had breakfast.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 13/21 by Adarsh
View from the top
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 14/21 by Adarsh
Kaaphal Homestay

With nothing else to do i again went up the hill but this time took a different trail and kept on walking up for over an hour. The views weren't much different from the previous trail but i kept on walking to a point where i felt i heard noises from the jungle. Although it may have been just the wind, but didn't risk walking ahead and rested on a huge rock for sometime while enjoying the panoramic view of Chaukori and other villages.

I walked back down to my room and in sometime aunty called me for lunch. Food here was the highlight of my stay at this place, as not only was it delicious but everything was homegrown and organic. I didn't do much activity in the evening and spend the time lazying near the homestay.

Day 6:-

Today was no different from the previous day. Started with a herbal tea, then a walk uphill, spend some time there before coming back to have breakfast. But in the afternoon when i was in my room, it started hailing. Ever since i started travelling, it was the first time i had seen hail so i stepped out and recorded it on my smartphone.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 15/21 by Adarsh
View from my room in Kaaphal Homestay

It was hailing for around 30 minutes after that the weather turned windy and i spend rest of the evening enjoying the cool breeze. It was an early dinner today too after that i packed up my stuff and went off to sleep, since i had to get up early the next day to start my journey for Munsyari. To sum up my 3 nights in Chaukori, i didn't do much here. Infact all three days i spend in and around the homestay either chatting with Tarun or going for a stroll.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 16/21 by Adarsh
After the hail
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 17/21 by Adarsh

Day 7:-

I got up at 5am and had a cup of tea after which Tarun dropped me of till main road. He had arranged a seat for me in a traveller coming from Berinag and going till Thal.The traveller van was fully packed and i had to sit in a compressed position for 1 hour before we reached Thal. The sumo to Munsiyari arrived in sometime and this time i got a comfortable window seat. We did halt for snacks midway but I didn't eat anything heavy fearing a bumpy ride ahead would upset my stomach. But the journey was smooth and really good views on the way.

On the way we crossed Birthi falls and Khaliya gate which are must visit places in Munsyari, which unfortunately i didn't visit. It took me around 3 and half hours to reach Munsyari. Now i had not booked my stay in Munsyari and the area around the sumo stand was crowded. So i asked the sumo driver for directions to Sarmoli, a place about which i read while planning my itinerary. The sumo driver was kind enough to drop me till a homestay in Sarmoli.

Later i realized it was more of a lodge than a homestay. But i wasn't complaining. The room was comfortable, the place was away from the crowd and i had a clear view of Panchachuli peaks from the comfort of my room. After checking in and freshening up, i went for a walk till the bazar area and later spend and hour or so talking with the owner of the lodge.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 18/21 by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 19/21 by Adarsh
My stay in Munsyari for 4 nights

Day 8:-

My plan for next 3 days was to do local sightseeing and the first place on the list was Nanda Devi temple. After having my breakfast i walked towards the market area which was just a 15-20 minute walk from Sarmoli. From the market it took me around 1 hour to reach Nanda Devi temple. On that day the sky was clear and the weather was cold and breezy and to add to it, the views of the peaks on route were just amazing.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 20/21 by Adarsh
Nanda Devi Temple
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand 21/21 by Adarsh

There is Rs.20 entry fee for this temple and the temple is in the middle of a small garden with multiple view points offering a panoramic view of the mountains. Besides me there was only an another family and few workers around that time. There is also a small stall for snacks near the temple. I wasn't hungry by that time so thought of having my lunch after visiting the museum or maybe after reaching the market. I spend more than an hour at the temple after which i walked back to the market area and asked for directions to the tribal museum.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

This museum was built by Late Dr. Sher Singh Pangtey and all the artifacts displayed in the museum were collected by him. There is an audio guide playing on speaker, and you just need to follow the guide to understand the history behind all the items displayed in the museum. Do visit this place when in Munsyari if you want to know about local tradition, utensils, birds, clothing, lifestyle and more.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

After spending around an hour at this place i started looking for a place to eat.Unfortunately most of them were closed, but after some walking around managed to find a restaurant which served dal,rice and some local sabzi. It was already 3pm and i walked back to my room where the owner talked about the history of Nanda Devi temple and other mythological stuff. I spend rest of the evening editing some photos on my laptop and gazing at the snow clad peaks from my room.

Day 9:-

It was my third day in Munsyari and the plan for today was to visit Mesar Kund. After asking few locals they told me to keep walking on the main road till i come across Milan Inn and few meters ahead of it there will be a sharp U turn. From there i had to get off the road cross the wall and there would be path that leads to Mesar Kund. It took me around 1 hour from the homestay to reach the U turn. From there it was an easy trail uphill, but it was hot that day and i had to take multiple breaks.

There are 2 ponds and both are named Mesar Kund. This is the 2nd one

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

Mesar Kund

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

After an hour i reached the top where there is a small meadow and a pond which is the Mesar Kund. The pond itself was okayish but the view of the snowclad peaks from the top where mesmerizing. While i was resting, a group of 2 arrived with a guide. I chatted with them for sometime and at the same time the guide told me there is an another big pond just few minutes ahead. I walked along with them while the guide was talking about the history of this pond. Soon after that the group left while i waited for sometime and clicked few photographs. I spend sometime sitting on the meadow and listening to a stream of water flowing nearby.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

The downhill walk was very smooth, but by time i reached the main road i was feeling hungry. I was hoping to find some restaurant on the way or someone who would drop me till the sumo stand. But hardly any vehicles passed by and i had to walk all the way till the market area where i had a delicious chicken thali for the first time in this trip. There was nothing much to do after this so walked back to room, freshened up and rested for sometime. It was a relaxed evening wherein i spend some time editing photos, listening to music and adoring the huge peaks which were visible from my room.

Day 10:-

This was the last day of sightseeing on my Uttarakhand trip. The plan for today was to visit the handloom village of Darkot which is around 8kms from Sarmoli. It was a sunny and humid day and the road from Sarmoli to Darkot didn't have any shade or shelter. I started sweating just few minutes into the walk but took only 1-2 breaks during this journey. There were very few vehicles going this route but i didn't try to stop them since i thought of hitchhiking while coming back.

Maa Durga Temple, Darkot

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

After entering Darkot i first spend some time in Maa Durga temple, before walking down further in the village. It was afternoon time and i hardly came across any people while walking in the village. I wanted to find someone who could show me the handloom equipment and how they create shawls and caps. I saw an old lady sitting in a nearby house and inquired about the same. She called out an another lady from a nearby house and asked me to go to her house.

After exchanging few greetings, she started talking about how handloom has been her family business for many years,from where they get the material, as well as the efforts and cost involved in it. We spend over an hour talking and i also bought a stole and winter cap. She showed me the handloom machine and how they use it. When she realized that i haven't had my lunch, she arranged lunch for me which she had actually prepared for her family. After having my food, it was time to head back to Sarmoli.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

I waited for 30-40 minutes hoping to get a ride till Sarmoli, but only one sumo passed and that too was fully packed. So i again had to walk back to my homestay which took around 2 hours. After reaching the homestay the owner told me he has booked a seat for me for my next morning journey to Kathgodam. I had an early dinner, payed the bill, packed my bags and went off to sleep.

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

Panchachuli Peaks

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

Day 11:-

I got up around 5am since the tempo traveller was to come around 5.30am and it finally arrived at 6. It was a smooth but very long journey with stops for breakfast,lunch and snacks. The sumo goes via Thal,Almora,Bhimtal before ending its journey at Haldwani. I got down at Kathgodam at 5.40pm but still had 3 hours before my train arrived. I spend that time watching videos on youtube, listening to songs and had my dinner later.

View of a village as seen from Nanda Devi temple

Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh
Photo of Backpacking in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand by Adarsh

The ticket for my journey from Kathgodam to Delhi was not confirmed so had to take a general ticket. Since the train starts from Kathgodam i managed to get a window seat, but it got fully packed in the next 2 stations. I couldn't sleep well due to noise in the compartment, but somehow managed to take small naps. The train reached Old Delhi at 4am,but the first metro leaves at 5am. So had some tea and snacks in that time and waited near the entrance of metro. I was barely able to keep my eyes open but thankfully didn't fell asleep. I took an another metro from New Delhi to Airport before getting on a flight back to Pune.

I will post my itinerary and cost below and if you want to see photos from my other trips please follow me on Instagram at techie.traveller


Day 1 - Pune to Delhi to Haldwani to Kasar Devi

Day 2 - Kasar Devi Temple and places nearby

Day 3 - Kasar Devi (If you have your own vehicle or a rented scooty, goto Almora or Binsar)

Day 4 - To Bageshwar to Chaukori

Day 5 - Chaukori (There is a waterfall in a nearby village. Ask the locals for directions)

Day 6 - Chaukori

Day 7 - Chaukori to Thal to Munsyari

Day 8 - Munsyari (Nanda Devi temple, Tribal Museum)

Day 9 - Munsyari (Mesar Kund)

Day 10 Munsyari (Darkot)

Day 11 - Munsyari to Kathgodam

Birthi Falls in Munsyari can be covered with your own vehicle which entering or exiting Munsyari, since its far from the town center. There is also a Rest House at Birthi. Same applies for Khaliya Top. But for Khaliya you have park your vehicle at the gate and from what the locals told me its a 1 hour trek to the top.


Haldwani to Almora bus - 165

Almora to TRH Deenapani - 40

HOTS Hostel(per night excluding food) :- 399

Kasar Devi to Bageshwar sumo - 200

Kaaphal Homestay(per night) - 1500

Thal to Sarmoli - 200

Martola Lodge(Munsyari) - 700

Munsyari to Kathgodam - 700