10 Offbeat Places to Visit in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand, is the land of Gods, they say. Now that is not too difficult to believe because it is a magical place, a place where the most powerful angels are even hypnotized to fall from heaven.
These aren’t exactly commercialized conventional ‘tourist destination’, these are ‘travellers’ destinations’. A tourist visits places but a traveller explores and drinks in new sites with all the exotic experiences that will come along.
In this article, we cover some of the most uncommon places of this Shangri-la. Let us take a look at the 10 offbeat places that Uttarakhand has in store for us, travellers:
If I had to describe Binsar in one word, it would be 'timeless'. Binsar is timeless because a place as rich in natural beauty as this has no comparison with the stereotypical, automated life that we live in. Located on the Jhandi Dhar hills, Binsar is where travellers come to lose themselves to the nature.
Binsar is situated in the lap of an exotic wildlife sanctuary that scores for its rich fauna. It is strange how a sense of profound peace seems to enter the very human soul here. All you need to do is walk by the forests and close your eyes then see how your senses are taken over. The variety of sounds coming from the birds will make you wonder how many hundreds of varieties must be there in the vicinity. There are supposedly around 200, including Eurasian Jays, Monals, Koklas, Magpies, laughing Thrushes, Nuthatches and Forktails among innumerable others. The forest here, declared a sanctuary in 1988, is also home to a vast variety of animals like flying squirrels, pine martens, Sus Scrofa etc. If you are an animal lover, I hope you can handle the delirium of joy. You need to buy a ticket if you want to explore the sanctuary but it is worth it, trust me.
While in Binsar, you must visit the zero point but you may lose your bearings for a while when you reach the spot. The sight is unimaginably breathtaking. The beauty of the ranges here is the kind that invokes obsession in travellers. There are peaks like Chaukhamba, Nanda Devi, Nanda Not, Kedarnath and Trishul among an endless list of other enchantresses. Binsar has a number of interesting temples in the vicinity. The 'past' features quite eminently in Binsar. We see the past at different levels here. The estate of Mary Budden and Sir Henry Ramsay's Khali Estate are grounds for a tete-a-tete with India's British past while Bineshwar temple of lord Shiva is a testimony to Binsar's medieval past under the Chand Dynasty. Kasar devi on the other hand bears witness to the area's hippie past. It is situated 9 km away from Binsar. On the whole, Binsar is a very beautiful place to be; from trekkers to animal lovers....for everybody!
Munsiyari, unlike it's name suggests, isn't just a place with lots of snow in winters, its a veritable Himalayan paradise. Located by Goriganga, this place is a common favourite to many. You could be a hiker, a mountaineer or simply an explorer. You'll love this place anyway.
Munsiyari is a destination of all destinations, being at the base of multiple routes Adventurers would be spoiled for choice here. You could trek to Milam, Ralam & Namik Glaciers, the Nanda Devi Temple, Khalia Top, Kalika Pass, Chiplakot Bugyal etc. The list goes on.Munsiyari bears witness to the journey across the ancient salt route from Tibet. When in Munsiyari, you must visit the Birthi falls, 126 mts high. It is situated 35 km away from Munsiyari. The legendary Mehsar Kund is a must-visit for the fanciful souls given that it is a testimony to a yaksha's love for a simple village girl and his revenge on the villagers for showing disrespect to his feelings. It offers a magnificent view of surrounding landscapes in general and the region's favourite Panchauli in particular. Panchauli is a cluster of 5 snow-capped beauties nesled in the lap of the magnificent Himalayan vista and Munsiyari offers the best vantage point for viewing this.
At Betulidhar, you will get to enjoy lavish colour splashes created by the Rhododendrons. This is an ideal spot for testing your skiing skills. Also pay a visit to the Tribal Heritage Museum at the Nanasen Village to delve into the region's history and heritage and to peacefully spend some 'alone' time with nature, i would suggest places like the Balanti Potato Farm, Thamari Kund, Dharchula en route to Mansarovar and Kalimuni top. From camping in the surrounding meadows to rafting in Gori Ganga, your options are uncountable. Do come and try them out sometime.
The most extraordinary hill station that fills with peace and comfort in the most beautiful way plus it is Dreamy! Thy name is Chakrata. It is a place where we easily get hooked on to and therefore very difficult to leave. This lovely hill-station falls en route to Dehradun via Mussoorie besides Vikasnagar.
Chakrata provides ample amount of opportunities for exploration in the midst of abundant alpine plants that colour up the whole place in the most amazing hues. Rhododendrons to oaks, the shades are endless. Hikers! Chakrata has a gift for you called the Tiger Falls or Keraao Pachad. This 312 feet high glory, 16 km from Chakrata, can be reached after a 5 km trek. There's more. If your trekking passion isn't quenched, then feel free to pay a hiker's visit to Moila Danda.
When in Chakrata, you must go to Deoban. 16 Kms away from Chakrata, the awesome view of the wide Himalayan ranges will render anyone totally speechless. Then there is the Chilmiri Neck at the military quarters waiting to take your breath away with the exotic view it offers. The Chinta-Haran Mahadev Mandir has a most amazing shiv-lingam and the Mahasu temple at Hanol bears witness to Mahabharat. The Ashoka rock pillar edict at Kalsi dates back to the 5th century BC and really takes you back in time. You might also like to arrange for a little picnic at the Ram Tall Horticulture Garden in the midst of the gorgeous apple orchards or organize an exploration camp at Kanasar, a forest that has Deodars with the most massive trunks in Asia. Do put Chakrata on your next tour-itenary. It is that one of the places can never be forgotten, a wild experience.
This is the kind of place that would immensely please Ruskin Bond. Sleepy, untouched, but extremely beautiful. That's Peora. We aren't just tourists; we are travellers, aren't we? We want to visit places that are still entirely nature's own. You may reach the place by a simple taxi ride from Kathgodam. Nestled in the lap of the Siwaliks, Peora, situated at a height of 6600 feet is an artist's dream and a nature lover's true retreat. It is only 10 km away from Mukteshwar but while the latter is really lovely, Peora is in a class of its own. It is a place where you come to rest and take long solitairy walks. Poets, this is the place you were looking for since forever.
You might consider paying the local NGO Aarohi a visit, because as travellers, every sort of experience is worth keeping from here. You might also indulge in a bit of cosmetic shopping from the local herbal factory. Peora looks like a blackforest cake in winters but so does all of Nainital District.Snowfall in a sleepy hamlet is just like a dream. The impressive Hotel Sequester and the deliciously decadent Dak Bunglow are the only options for a stay. Better don’t waste but make haste, travellers....before others discover this piece of paradise.
Khirsu is a lovely hamlet in the heart of Uttarakhand that can be reached within 12 hours via car from Delhi. Located at a distance of 19 km from the much publicized Pauri, this hill-station stands at an altitude of 1700 meters. This tiny Garhwal town affords a majestic view of spectacular ranges.Khirsu is a photographer's paradise and in any case, its beauty will stick to your mind's album. The forests in the vicinity have a definite element of mystery. It seems to take an individual to the interiors of a suspense thriller or a horror flick but that's only for the fanciful souls. The nature lovers would only be transported to their own personal shangrillas.
While in Pauri, you must pay a visit to the temple of the Ghandiyal Devta. It is beautiful and has done justice to faith of innumerable devotees. Khirsu can be visited throughout the year because it is always beautiful. With its fabulous treasure trove of apple orchards, it is the kind of place that will leave a traveller content. Places like Dhanaulti, Jageshwar and Munsiyari are within easy reach so do put in this place in your next itenary.
This is the perfect place for a person to reconnect with himself. Urban lives have a way of making us forget our ownselves and places like Lansdowne exist so that we are not completely lost forever. Lansdowne affords a perfect ground for establishing a union with nature in its earthiest form. It literally cleanses the soul and the mind. You come here, explore the place, and see what joy means but while you're at it, find yourself a perfect spot, sit down and read a book. You'll find out the true meaning of 'indolence' when you do this. Originally called Kaludanda, 'Lansdowne' came into being as we know it, in 1887. It was named after the viceroy of the time. While in Lansdowne, do make it a point to see the glittering waters of Bhulla taal which stands as a testimony to the toils of all those who built it. Don't forget to click pictures when you're boating or hanging out at the children's park or the bamboo machan.
On the ridge near the lovely St Mary's Church, stands the exquisite view point, Tip-In-Top. Painters, should not forget to get their watercolours when they come here. At St Mary's Church, the past comes alive. With awe-inspiring photos of the Raj and displays of regimental history, this church has a wonderful aura of timelessness. This cantonment town houses the Regimental Museum built in 1983 to present a most astonishing collection of Garhwal rifles. You are in luck if your visit coincides with the town's annual 'Sharadotsav' celebration. It is fun, colourful and very pleasing. Simple joys never felt so good and you will not want to leave this place if you tasted the actual essence. That is my guarantee for you, my fellow travellers.
This is the abode of the gods by all means.....this is the kind of place visited by monks in their astral journeys. This is the kind of beauty, a photographer can never do justice to. Located in the Nainital district and situated at an elevation of 1370 meters, this lake defines serenity.
Bhimtal has a fantastic aquarium on the island at the centre. Named after the great Indian warrior, Bheem, the lake undermines the very definition of ancient. Legend has it that the Bhimeshwar Mahadev temple was erected by Bheem himself when the Pandavas were in exile. It was renovated by Baz Bahadur in the 1600s. Nestled in the midst of the green Himalayas, Bhimtal's waters resemble a thousand glittering alexandrite stones. You get to see innumerable migratory birds here and can boat to your heart's content. While at Bhimtal, do pay a visit to Sattal and Subhash Dhara. The former is a magnificent collection of 7 interconnected lakes and the latter is a gorgeous fresh water spring. The Satvik Sadan and the Sat Tal Mission estate besides the Vankhadi ashram on Hidimba Hill are beautiful ashrams that stand simply as an extension of the spirit of the lake.
Bhimtal offers endless opportunities to an explorer. You could visit the Naukuchiatal and the Nal-Damayanti tal as well but please do not forget to pay a visit to the Butterfly Museum at Jones estate. Here, the world just looks more colourful. Bhimtal is beautiful throughout the year. The lake here, is larger than the one at Nainital and some would say a bit more charming as well but that is only if travel be considered a union between the traveller and the destination, because Bhimtal isn't a commercial tourist destination first. It is a gorgeous piece of heaven with no time boundaries to speak of.
Dhanaulti is the kind of place people must come to with a group of friends who share a love for travelling. Located at a distance of 24 kms from Mussoorie and 29 Kms from Chamba and perched on the mountains at a height of 2286 meters, Dhanaulti is a dreamland with endless treasures for photographers. The lush meadows, the Alpine forests and the exotic variety of flora and fauna is bound to make a lasting impression on your mind. The Eco-Park at Dhanaulti is a grand creation indeed. The 2 parks, 'Amber' and 'Dhara' have been recently constructed by the forest department of Uttarakhand. About 60 local youngsters are responsible for looking after this place. There are several opportunities for interesting adventure sports activities here. You may walk over a flying fox and even ride horses. To leave a part of yourself here, you must plant a sapling in the memory of somebody you love. Its a lovely tradition, isn't it? You might consider putting up at an eco hut. Do let us know how cool green-living is.
Shoppers are in for great fun because the Dehra-based Himalayan Weavers are in town amigos. Pashmina to eri silk, you can buy away to glory. The Surkanda Devi temple is located at a distance of 8 Kms from Dhanaulti. It forms a part of the triangle along with the temples Chandrabadni and Kunjapuri. Lastly, the government potato farm here serves as a sunrise point. Isn't that unique? But this is Dhanaulti. Here, everything is unique and unparalleled.
Perched in the lap of the Kumaon hills, situated at an elevation of 7500 feet, Mukteshwar is located at a distance of 51 Kms from Nainital and 72 Kms from Haldwani. The Shiva temple, known as the Mukteshwar dham stands on the highest point in the vicinity which is the veterinary institute's campus. Chauli Ki Jaali, the overhanging cliff nearby, is the most perfect place to get some practice in rock-climbing. The PWD guest houses has a fabulous view-point. You can see the sun wake up and also go to sleep from this place. Animal lovers are most welcome to visit the Indian Veterinary Research Institute. The Central Institutes of Temperate Horticulture-Regional Station has magnificent orchards. Besides, the sprawling alpine forests afford ample scope for exploration.
Jim Corbett, a man who belonged to the forests of Kumaon, is said to have fallen in love with this place and that shows how nobody stands a chance so far as resisting its charm is concerned. Mukteshwar has the word 'mukt' in it and quite rightfully so, because its sets the heart 'free'. It wanders every corner of this breath-taking place with its unimaginably beautiful treasure trove of nature's bounty. Come to Mukteshwar if you want to fill up the album of your mind with spectacular images of the amazing view of the Himalayas from here.
Lovely, so lovely! Situated between Tibet and the terai, this tiny hill station in the heart of the Pithoragarh district is like nothing you have ever seen. This place is straight out of story book written by an author with an amazing flare for nature descriptions. It is really a wonder how God manages to pack such excessive amounts of beauty within such limited boundaries. The tea gardens are simply amazing but surprisingly, so unlike the ones in North Bengal which are extremely pretty in their own right. You get a most spectacular view of the ranges from Chaukori. Nanda Devi, Nanda Not, Chaukhamba, Trishul and Panchauli cannot look any better than from this Himalayan hamlet.
If Ann Radcliff, the renowned writer of gothic romances, were an Indian, she would have certainly come to Chaukori to do her writing. This is the kind of beauty that made Wordsworth write poetry. You may visit Dharamgarh, located 9 Kms away, and take lots of pictures from Sarla Behn's cottage here. You may also take a trip to Berinag which is situated 10 Kms away from Chaukori and make sketches at the tea gardens there. There are several temples close by like the temples of Ghunsera Devi, Kapileshwar, Kamaksha, Arjuneshwar Shiva and the Jayanti Temple Dhwaj. It is really no surprise that the Gods want to live in close proximity to Chaukori. Visit this place but at your own risk because you may not want to leave!
Also Read: 30 Offbeat Places to Visit in India
-Suchandra @ Trodly
Suchandra is an English grad pursuing her masters at present. She is absolutely crazy about exploring places and loves to read novels when she isn't writing for Trodly. She hopes to do at least one-fifth of what her bucket list contains but we wish she does everything in it.
This post was originally published on Trodly travel blog.
Featured image by Sharada Prasad CS
is a destination of all destinations, being at the base of multiple routes Adventurers would be spoiled for choice here. You could trek to Milam, Ralam & Namik Glaciers, the Nanda Devi Temple, Khalia Top, Kalika Pass, Chiplakot Bugyal and the list goes on.