Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A sojourn in the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas : Magnificent Munsiari - (Part 5)

Day 5 - Oct 6th , 2015.

The route from Choukori to Munsiari is covered with Pine forests and couple of waterfalls. Though it is only 95kms, the time taken to reach is more, because of the altitude and mountain roads.

Munsiari is a very famous destination in the Kumaon region as it is a starting point to many treks such as Milam glacier trek , Dharma valley trek etc.

 Women carrying heavy bundles of grass

Birthi falls :

You can see Birthi Falls from a long distance and as we got closer and closer, the sight was gradually beginning to unfold, till we finally reached the base of the falls. One can see the KMVN's TRH at Birthi from a long distance and the plan was to have a lunch stop.

A small iron bridge is constructed at the base of the falls.

Birthi falls

Jogging in afternoon- Ambika and Satish uncle 

The landscape changes every few kilometres. The pine forests were then changed to grassland vegetation, and then again changed back to shrub jungle.
We could see the vegetation changing as we gained altitude.

 TRH - Birthi

Kalamuni top

Kalamuni top is a sharp bend which is located about 5 kms from Munsiari. This place offers tourists the closer view of the mountain peaks of Panchachuli range. 

Kalamuni temple


 Paramount pictures

Panchachuli peak

Lammergier / Bearded vulture


Atlast, the most awaited place of the trip had arrived. The sheer beauty of the place and its surroundings made us enthralled. It is surrounded by Himalayan Peaks of the Panchachuli range , thick forests , streams and rivulets , potato fields , waterfalls etc.

It is a tailor made destination for landscape photographers.

Munsiari is  a small town, in the Pithoragarh District of the hill-state of Uttarakhand.

It lies at the base of the great Himalayan mountain range, at an elevation of about 2,200 m (7,200 ft) and is a starting point of various treks into the interior of the range.

The cool breeze welcomed us at Munsiari and the sun had almost set. We were in search of accommodation and finalized "Milam Inn" . It is a beautiful hotel which offers an amazing view point of the Panchachulis.

The night had set in, and I was ready with my camera and tripod to shoot stars. Shooting night sky with hot pakoras and bread toast with some chai in the Himalayas is a divine feeling.


The milkyway is seen along the Panchachuli peaks in the backdrop. 

Day 6 - Oct 7th , 2015

We all woke up to the tunes of small birds around us and were very eager to watch the sunrise with the peaks in front of us. This was a great moment that we witnessed.

Each ray of the golden sun falling on the majestic peaks at varying times is a phenomenon on its own, and the spectacle is mind blowing.

Within no time, the sun rises over the mighty peaks and the light is spread all over.

Satish uncle had shot some pictures  last time when he had visisted this place (around 10 years back) in a farm nearby. We thought of trying out similar pictures this time as well, and headed towards the farm.

The people over there recognized him, and thus were very hospitable.

 Majestic view of Panchachuli ranges



There is a beautiful tribal museum at the town centre which has a wide collection of old dresses, tools , herbs , photos  etc. This is worth watching when you are at Munsiari, and all the items are single handedly collected by Dr. Pangteyji.

It was a privilege meeting him at the museum.

After a while, we decided to go towards Kalamuni, to try our luck in shooting the Lammergier (as we had seen it the previous day). Though we could not spot the bird, we spotted couple of endemic birds such as Plumbeous redstart , Yellow billed blue magpie , and the majestic Himalayan Monal itself.

 Yellow billed blue magpie

Plumbeous Redstart

All of us were eagerly watching for birds, and all of a sudden Teju spotted the Monal. It was a first timer for all of us (except Satish uncle), and the very sight of the magnificent bird gave me goosebumps. The colors of it has no match.

Shepherd with his sheep herd

The sun was about to set, and we could see the colors eventually changing to Gold.
We rushed to a viewpoint as we drove down from Kalamuni.

The clouds were covering the mountains very quickly, and we could manage to get only few photograohs, before the clouds played spoilsport.

Once back at the hotel, I started to do astro photography again :)

Day 7 - Oct 8th , 2015


Early in the morning, we went towards the gate of Khulia top (entry point) , and could spot few Himalayan Griffons. These birds gave us a lot of opportunity for photographing them with varied compositions.

Himalayan Griffons :

The Himalayan vulture or Himalayan griffon vulture (Gyps himalayensis) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae. Closely related to the European griffon vulture (G. fulvus) and once considered a subspecies of it, this species is found along the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors.



We then left the place and headed towards Gwaldam. 

Below pictures were shot enroute :

On the way back, there was a small waterfalls. The cascading water between the rocks and the algae formation on the rocks, gave me good opportunity to try slow shutter speed photography.

Milam Inn :

The hotel is situated in a very scenic location that offers magnificent views of the Panchachulis.

Website : http://milaminnmunsiyari.com/index.html
Tariff : Depends on the season, we paid around Rs. 1400/- per room per night.

Hotel Milam Inn

Getting there (Munsiari) :

Nainital to Munsiari - 300 kms (via Pittoragarh) - Cabs are available from major cities in the state like Nainital , Almora , Pittoragarh etc

Choukori to Munsiari - 95 kms

Our Route :

Choukori - Birthi - Munsiari (approx 95 kms)

Next Pitstop -> Gwaldam ....


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