Everyone wants a social media ready holiday. One which looks pretty, is perceived as “classy” by their peers. Why? Or Why not? Is a whole different debate. But how about you drift off to a humble, unknown destination. It has its own charm, to go to a place never explored but there might be a reason why it is not popular, you know? I decided to go off the treaded path, literally.
One long weekend, when the world was flocking to popular haunts of Kasol, Manali, Shimla and the likes, I wanted to catch a short time in peace, few breathes of mountain cold air and some good views. It was coincidentally also my birthday weekend! I asked my “traveler” friends for references and on much probing I was mentioned about Mukhteshwar in Uttarakhand. The name got me at first! Everything else was pre-emptive! The fact that it was not very popular was enticing to be honest. I looked cursorily for photos of the place on google and looked for some good stay options, there was one which was at the top of the hills with cottages and good reviews. The deal was sealed.
It was a trip of firsts, I decided to take a “Bla-Bla” car which is basically booking a ride on a ride sharing app. All our new friend who was driving his car was very affable and we actually had a good time. We were dropped off at Haldwani which is the foot of the hill which has Nainital, which is a very popular tourist destination. On our way we saw Jim Corbett National park and wondered why we didn’t plan to visit the national park! Maybe a better planned and longer trip could include these as well. We hired a local cab which took us to Mukhteshwar. Haldwani was around 6 hours away from Gurgaon and Mukhteshwar is another two hours further. After spiraling upwards and downwards on the ghats we figured that our hotel was on a different hill, slightly away from Mukhteshwar. Exotic, I thought.
After the tiring long trip, I was welcomed in the hotel with friendly staff and pretty cottage rooms and view of the mighty Himalyan Mountains. The hotel was secluded and beautiful, exactly what I was seeking.
The next day we visited Mukhteshwar the actual city. I was blown away. It was around thirty houses and around evening time everyone was downstairs, mingling, chatting and playing. That was true happiness and simple life that I experienced there. It was blissful.
We moved on to trying the local cuisine, “Kumaoni”. I had not expected the state would have such peculiar cuisine! I had judged it by the size of the state but I stood surprised. There was a variety of rice dishes, simple and delicious. There is a special flour called, “mandwa” there which is claimed to be good for diabetics, I picked up some for my parents.
The highlight of the trip was certainly Jaageshwar. Around two hours away is the Shiv temple of Jageshwar built hundreds of years ago. The route to it is scenic, well maintained and has 4G connection pretty much all the time! But the real treasure is the temple. It is around a stream of glistening water by a mountain with coniferous trees rising on it. It is so picturesque, it is difficult to describe it well in words!
On our way back, we spent a quiet day at Bhimtal at a lovely homestay. It was the perfect way to end the trip.