Day 2: 20 December 2013: Exploring Mukteshwar & Sattal
I had asked Bahadur last night about the sunrise time and he had said 0630. Not to miss the spectacular performance expected, I woke up at 0600, got fresh and by 0610, I was out of the room with my gears to witness the sunrise. However, it was still dark and not before 0650 hrs that I could see the first ray of light. However, the morning breeze was cool and I enjoyed the time while having a cup of tea and clicking anything and everything, everywhere. 🙂 No one else braved the cold to come out. The sun was rising behind the hills and the sky was gradually turning fiery orange…
Precisely about 0727 hrs, I saw the crown of the ball of fire rising above the hills, and rose it quickly – by 0730, it was all out playing with the clouds with its rays dancing burning up the entire sky. What a fantastic experience it was.. never before I had witnessed such a magic in the sky. I just kept soaking in the beautiful display that was there all for myself and kept on clicking too.
As the ball of fire rose, it created embers in the clouds…
Everything was basking in the light that was coming filtered through the clouds and I just kept on clicking.
It was about 0750 that this spectacular performance ended and this was when I ordered tea for everyone as it was time to get up! 🙂 While we were out having our tea (second round for me!), my little kiddo woke up and upon not finding anyone in the room, started crying. We immediately rushed up and just see how the cry changes to smile and then laughter when she saw us and then climbed up to Shikha’s lap. 🙂
Taking some indoor shots while getting ready for the breakfast, we took a couple of shots of kiddo in the wooden almirah kept in the room and she too enjoyed fitting in the various sized compartments 😀
After getting over with daily rituals and bath, we came out for the breakfast, and while there was some time in getting it served, the kids enjoyed being outdoors with nothing specific to do. So while Dheeraj’s son started badminton with lemons, my li’l kiddo enjoyed climbing up the stairs, while me and Dheeraj continued capturing the place.
We got ourselves clicked too!
Last night, we had denied opting for non-veg food as Dheeraj and family are eggetarians and it won’t look good. So the breakfast in the morning had chapatis, potato & pea veggie and lip-smacking farm-fresh spinach. Everything that is offered for food is grown locally and the food really has taste into it. I in particularly overstuffed myself by finishing the last remaining piece of spinach in the bowl! 🙂
Today afternoon was leisure as we had planned nothing of sorts and were to just visit the local Aanganbadi to distribute some stationery to local kids as part of DoW Causes and so we kept loitering around the place, basking in the warm sun. The time read 1215 hrs.
Finally, we asked Hemu to guide us to the local aanganwadi for the causes. We started through the trail and the plan was to go downhill to the aanganwadi.
While we were trekking the trail, Hemu called up his contacts in the village downhill and came to know that being Saturday, the aanganwadi’s close early and the one downhill in the village has closed now. Now unlike Ladakh, where kids live nearby and can be gathered anytime, Uttarakhand has people living sparsely and hence gathering the kids after they have left is an arduous task. Hemu then said that there is another aanganwadi uphill on way to Mukteshwar temple and we should go there for the Causes.
We talked amongst ourselves and decided that trekking uphill to Somerset lodge, coming back and then trekking again would be too exhaustive and so all of us including family and kids should go together with luggage. So while Dheeraj, Gaurav and Dheeraj’s son stayed halfway through the trail, I came back to Oak Chalet to inform Shikha and Dheeraj’s wife to get ready to go. Couple of phone calls exchanged, Dheeraj and Gaurav also came back as Dheeraj’s son started crying sitting idle halfway through the trail and then we had to have lunch as well!
Quickly, we finished our lunch and climbed up the trail to reach Somerset lodge. Hemu, Bahadur and others picked up our lugguage. The trek appeared beautiful!
While we had covered 3/4th of the trek, Hemu came back after gathering the luggage and then carried my li’l kiddo.
Man! trekking uphill was a task in itself!!
We started from the Somerset lodge towards Mukteshwar temple, Hemu being with us. Unfortunately, the aanganwadi uphill had also closed for the day. Perhaps the causes will need to be executed on some other trip. 🙁
Next on the list was to visit Mukteshwar dham temple. We reached there, parked our cars and everyone except me went to the temple. This temple is said to be at least 350 years old and abode of Shri Mukteshwar Maharaj ji from whom the town derives its name. The temple is located on the highest hill in the town.
Temple visit done, next attraction was Chouli Ki Jali which is famous for its vertical drop. While there is a paved way from the temple to Chouli Ki Jali, there is a shortcut trail too about which Hemu informed us. So we took the trail.
Chouli ki Jali is a wonder of nature, a natural latticework of rocks, which face upward inclined at an angle nearly 44 degrees as if they are coming out of the surface and trying to touch the sky. These projecting rocks seem to take various shapes based on your imagination. Due to the same, there are various folklore spread, one of them talking about some goddess fighting with some demon and also that touching the rocks helps with fertility to women!
Nevertheless, just at the edge, when you see below, the heart skips a beat – over 1000 feet of sheer vertical drop is what you see! This is made to good use as this place is said to used for rappelling and rock climbing. It is said that once paragliding was also done here, but the same has been stopped now.
Now when you are at such top of the world, you gotta get yourselves clicked! 🙂
There is a structure erected with raised platforms, purportedly to be used as rest area. A guy was running temporary tea-stall cum Maggi joint there. We did had Maggi and then he provided us very good froth coffee, beaten vigorously, and that too just for Rs 10!
Having our fill, reached back the parking area where Dheeraj distributed some causes items to the guides and taxi drivers there. We started to our destination of the day – Sattal and dropped Hemu on the way at the gate of the resort. The time read 1515 hrs.
Driving at ease, soaking in the nature around, we reached at Sattal in two hours.
We checked in with KMVN TRH at Sattal and rooms were available in plenty. The cottages were also available and I was inclined to go for it since the rates were also reduced owing to off-season, however, the manager stated that out of the two cottages, one was under repair and hence can’t be allotted. We decided to stay in the rooms itself. We spent the evening loitering in the KMVN campus itself and noticed a family consisting of Husband, wife and a son, coming in a Scorpio and checking-in into the cottage. Dinner was served around 2000 hrs which was tasty homely food.
After dinner, I was getting some fresh cold breeze when the person arrived. We talked about what brings us here and he said that he was a regular at Sattal and that he belonged to Kashipur. We talked about Nainital being overcrowded and farming and many of the things. He shared that he owned a huge farm at Kashipur and that he owned the Indane Gas Agency at Kashipur itself. Jitendra Singh Hooda was the name. By that time, Dheeraj also joined us and Hooda saab told us that we would not be able to execute causes as the Aanganbadi nearby would be closed, tomorrow being Sunday. He then informed us that there is some Vankhandi Babaji atop the mountain just behind the KMVN and that it would be a good trek if we are interested.
We agreed that me and Dheeraj would trek there in the morning along with Hooda family and we came back to our rooms after bidding good night.
Next: Vankhandi Ashram, Lakes and Pangot
Total Distance covered: Approx 51 kms
Driving Directions from Mukteshwar to Sattal: Trace back the route till the KMVN TRH at Bhowali (check previous post for directions). At the tri-junction, take a sharp left and further ahead, take right on the Bhimtal-Bhowali road. At the next tri-junction, take extreme left fork to remain on Bhimtal road and pass by Woodbridge School. Further ahead, you’d find a large temple complex just besides the road. Drive ahead and take extreme right turn on the Kutani-Sattal road (If you pass by Country Inn, Bhimtal, it means you missed that fork, take a U-turn and turn left on the road). Drive ahead passing by Graphic Era Hill University campus. Drive ahead passing by Garur Tal and further ahead the parking barrier and arrive at KMVN to your right.
Google Map directions for Mukteshwar to Sattal: http://goo.gl/maps/5Arrl