Munsiyari, the name itself translates to mean “a place with snow”. Thus, the name of this hamlet in Uttarakhand itself introduces you to its identity. The small town of Munsiyari is a hill station perched prettily with the Himalayas enveloping its landscapes. The hamlet is placed between the borders of India, Tibet and Nepal. Munsiyari is the home of the Shaukya tribe who would carry salt. They would trek over the passes and mountains for a month at a stretch in order to bring back the essential every day material of salt. Today, the beautiful mountain destination is cosy as ever and still has a lot to offer its visitors. If you are planning a visit here, here are the 5 best things to do during your trip:
This is one of the most popular day treks from Munsiyari. Travellers trek up to Khaliya Top at a height of 3,500m for the stunning sights of not one but 5 peaks all at once! The peaks are Panchachuli, Nandakot, Rajrambha, Hardeol and Nandadevi. Even if you are visiting in summer, the trek to the top of this meadow will give you the opportunity to spot the snowline even in this season because of the sheer height you would have reached facing the snow-clad peaks. Trek through a thick cover of pines and oaks, popular mountain trees, along with spruce and cypress. The scent of the trees surrounding you will take over as you make your way. In fact, if you are visiting in spring the rhododendrons are generally in full bloom, making your path turn into a picturesque fiery red shade.
If you commence your trek from Balanti Farms, it is a shorter half day duration long trek. Balanti Farm will give you the chance to trek through its woodlands as you move to approach the view from its altitude of 9,000ft. Alternatively, you can visit the farms on another day and trek to Khaliya via Kalamuni which makes it a longer but still a single day trek, and a stunning one at that.
During the winter season, Khaliya Top is also popular for skiing. So, throw on your adventurous shoes and get swishing swashing through the white powdery slopes!
If the aforementioned sight of rhododendrons excited you then here’s a fun fact for you – the flower is actually the state flower of Uttarakhand. Yes, that’s right because that is the abundance in which the flower grows in the state. Betuli Dhar, with favourable weather, usually sees rhododendrons blooming like a layer of carpets. A garden in the summer time, it too gets converted into destination for winter sports during the later season. It is most popular for being the ideal spot in Munsiyari to catch the sunset with the orange glow of the setting sun glistening off the panoramic view of the peaks.
When you have passed through lush green gardens and seen snow-capped peaks, what more could add joy to your vacation? Let me guess, how about waterfalls? There’s something about the fresh water bouncing off the rocks in a cascading rush from a height, the touch of the water on your face leaving you feeling fresher than ever even if it is extremely chilly and without a doubt, the chance to splash your friends with some chilly water too! Welcome to Birthi Falls, a one-hour long drive from Munsiyari at a distance of 39kms. The falls are at a height of 400ft which results in the gushing water to resemble a misty look as it collects below.
Nanda Devi is probably one of the biggest attractions of Munsiyari, drawing the religious sentiment holders to the thrill-seekers too. There are two nature of visits that one can make to the temple. Firstly, you could do the short single day trek that takes merely 3-4 hours. However, if you live to experience an adrenaline rush or enjoy immersing yourself completely in nature then you could do the Nanda Devi base camp trek which is spread over a period of 8 days.
Nanda Devi is the supreme goddess revered across Uttarakhand. In fact, the state witnesses annual festivals across multiple regions wherein the devotees celebrate and pray by singing folk songs dedicated to the goddess. She is believed to bring prosperity and well-being to them.
Munsiyari is actually quite the gem for true lovers of trekking. Treks to the glaciers of Milam and Ralam commence from here. Milam glacier stands at a height of 4,268m. This 16kms long glacier is the largest glacier of Kumaon covering an area of 37 square kms. Signs of the 1962 Indo-Sino war can also be spotted here. Ralam stands at a height of 2,290m. Ralam actually comprises of 3 glaciers, namely, Sutela, Yangchar and Kalabaland.
Both treks are covered over a span of 8 days and offer jaw-dropping sights of the snow-clad peaks as you pass through quaint villages, small waterfalls, tiny streams and rows of forests and trees to make your way.
You could even go for river rafting at the Gori Ganga river during your visit to Munsiyari. However, this is open only seasonally so please be sure to confirm this.
And there you have it, the picturesque town of Munsiyari, the ideal escape for the mountain child inside of you!
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