Uttarakhand Kumaon Hills are dotted with many numbers of gorgeous hill stations, each with its own special charm and easy accessibility. One such splendid hill resort is Mukteshwar, 2300 m, a secluded retreat blessed with pleasant weather and heart-stopping vistas of the Himalayas.
The town of Mukteshwar is associated with a legend of Shiva who gifted immortality or Mukti to a demon that he slew. Mukteshwar was a quiet mountain hamlet till the turn of the last century. It owes much of its present day status to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, which possesses a large part of the land and most of the deep forests that surround Mukteshwar. Rhesus monkeys and langurs jabber in the trees, deer and birds abound, and the occasional mountain leopard and Himalayan black bear can be spotted.
It was in the forests of the Kumaon region that Jim Corbett hunted half a dozen of the famous man-eating tigers of Kumaon, including the notorious Champawat Tiger and the Panther leopard that had killed hundreds of people
The evergreen forests and deciduous woodlands are home to the Himalayan ruby throat, white-crested laughing thrush, red-billed leiothrix, black winged kite and a host of other mountain birds. The elusive Himalayan Mountain Quail was last seen in the Nainital vicinity near Mukteshwar. Beyond the forests, past fields and farms are lush fruit orchards that grow apples, plums, peaches, apricots and pears.
From Mukteshwar there is a divine view of the Himalayas, each peak with a sacred identity and myth of its own. See the 6596 m high Neelkantha (Blue-throated Shiva), the 7120 m Trishul (Shiva's Trident), Nanda Devi, 7817 m (Goddess of Bliss), Nanda Ghunti 6310 m (the Veil of the Goddess) and the five-pronged chimneys of the Panchuli peaks
Another awe-inspiring view is from chauthi jaali, where rocks jut out from the hill face at a bizarre angle. This is a great place to observe eagles and other feathered scavengers as they swoop down at their prey. Ramgarh, 26 km away, has blissful fruit orchards, Bhowali, 40 km is a health resort and Ghorakhal, 37 km has the temple of Gollu Devta, an important deity of the Kumaonis. Other excursions are the Devidhura temple, 120 km, the Reetha Sahib Gurdwara and the Punyagiri temple.
Best time: Mukteshwar is a year-round holiday destination. Summer temperatures range from 27º C to 10ºC, while in winter it is from 17ºC to 3ºC. August and early September are rainy months and can be avoided. Light woolens are fine for summer, but heavy winter woolens are necessary.
Distances - Mukteshwar is 350 km from Delhi, a drive of about 10-11 hours via Nainital, 53 km or Haldwani 49 km. The nearest railhead is at Kathgodam, 72 km, from where buses and taxis are available for Mukteshwar.
Accommodation: Government rest houses are available and deluxe cottages, luxury tents and Hotels resorts are available for stay.