Kumaon in Uttarakhand is one of the most lovely places in the Himalayas where I travel mostly in winter. However, nothing takes away anything from its charm in spring or summer seasons. Even in the rainy season, Kumaon is magical, with clouds floating in the valley and dense green colors spread across miles.
Hence, I thought why not after many years of writing about Kashmir, Ladakh, Lahaul & Spiti, and Himachal, I shall shift the focus towards Uttarakhand on the Devil On Wheels Travel platform.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Planning a trip to Kumaon?
I have traveled the majority of the entire circuit of Kumaon in Uttarakhand, which is quite popular, thanks to my year-end travel trip to this amazingly beautiful place. You can read about recent rendezvous with Kumaon at Munsiyari – Dharchula – Chaukori – Itinerary, Road Conditions & Updates.
As far as the location of Kumaon in Uttarakhand, north of Kumaon neighbors Tibet, and the east shares the boundary with Nepal. The Uttar Pradesh state lies towards the south side of Kumaon. Finally, Garhwal lies on the west side of Kumaon which is the other half region of mountain state Uttarakhand.
October to March is the time when the 300 km-wide panoramic views of Himalayan peaks like Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli are visible (apart from cloudy days) from higher villages of Kumaon region. All these remote Himalayan villages are mostly beyond Almora. So, you will not go wrong with this time of the year.
Summers come with a forest fire, and many times views to this Himalayan range get blocked during that period. So, winters to spring are a good bet to go for clear views with blue skies in the Kumaon region.
Most Common Itinerary of Kumaon for 8 – 10 Days
Here is the most common itinerary that I mostly suggest to readers of DoW Travel Blog covering the majority of preferred locations in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.
Day 1 | Delhi to Nainital / Pangot
- Start from Delhi early morning and reach either Nainital or stay at the wilderness of Pangot, just ahead of it.
- You can refer the route conditions to Nainital from Delhi at Delhi Nainital Road Conditions
- Relax the day at Nainital or Binsar
Day 2 | Nainital / Pangot – Almora – Binsar
- Start from Nainital and enjoy the drive to Binsar, an hour or so ahead of Almora.
- Before Almora, at Kakrighat, you can go inside the village and enjoy the riverside on the opposite bank from the road.
- Relax in the forest range of Binsar
Day 3 | Binsar – Sheraghat – Berinaag side / Raiagara – Munsiyari
- Start a bit early from Binsar as it will take about 6-7 Hrs to reach Munsiyari. Enjoy the amazingly beautiful drive through the dense forest range. You will love every bit of it if you start early.
- Enjoy Lunch at Thal and DO NOT forget to top up fuel at Thal. The restaurant just aside the petrol pump by the name JJ Hotel and Restaurant is quite nice.
- Stop aside Birthi fall and reach by an evening at Munsiyari to witness the amazingly beautiful golden glow of sunset at Panchchulli range
- Stay overnight at Munsiyari
Day 4 | Munsiyari Rest Day
- Rest day at Munsiyari and enjoy the views of Panchchulli Peaks from various viewpoints.
- Maybe a trek to Thamri Kund ahead of Khaliya top. Will take about 3 Hrs to complete the trek, else enjoy relaxing day at Munsiyari
- Darkot is a heritage village 8 km ahead of Munsiyari. You can get yourself the Pasham (Mountain Rabbit) wool Shawls, Cardigans, Caps, crafted by hand as a heritage run by an old lady Prema Ji who is the mother of a well-known guide of this region named Raju guide. You can reach him at 08958687822. These are in the purest form of that woolen and crafted by hands only, so a bit costly but very, very warm & pure. The white one is pure while the grey one is a mix and comes a bit cheaper.
- In winter, it snows in Munsiyari, and the road can close at Kalamuni top during heavy snowfall. So, if you are planning a trip in winters, then make sure you check the weather and plan a couple of buffer days.
- You can also get some local herbs from Raju at Darkot Village such as Jambo used to flavor Dal, Thoya much like Kala Jeera, Tehmur like Kali Mirch (in case you need warmth in the cold, you can drink a soup having lot of Tehmur in it), Gandraini sticks though bitter but good for constipation.
- Munsiyari also sells quite famous local Rajma (Kidney Beans) & potato and you can get some of them for you in case you like them.
- The road from Darkot – Madkot – Jaulijibi runs along the Gori Ganga river. Also, offers views of Johar Ghati towards Milam which is surrounded by Tibet from one side and Nepal from the other if I am not wrong??
- Stay overnight at Munsiyari
TIP | Stay at secluded KMVN at Birthi falls
- Thanks for the recommendation from Pankaj in the comments section, one can also stay at KMVN Birthi Falls instead of Munsiyari and enjoy peace up there.
Day 5 | Munsiyari – Chaukori
- Chaukori offers a much wider view of the Himalayan range wile Munsiyari offers a touching view of the Panchchulli range. The view of Nanda Devi from Chaukori is purely magical and feels as if you will touch it.
- Again, while coming back, enjoy lunch at Thal and DO NOT forget to top up fuel at Thal. The restaurant just aside the petrol pump by the name JJ Hotel and Restaurant is quite nice.
- Stop aside Birthi fall in case you missed while going to Munsiyari.
- Stay overnight at Chaukori
Day 6 | Chaukori – Patal Bhuvanehwar – Chaukori
- Make a visit to Patal Bhuvaneshwar, an amazing cave of limestone and if you have an interest in Hindu mythology, well you will relate those structures in there to every sense of the story narrated by the priest when you get inside. One of those MUST SEE things in life.
- Stay overnight at Chaukori
Day 7 | Chaukori – Kausani/Gwaldam via Baijnath – Bageshwar
- From Chaukori follow the other route towards Bagehswar – Baijnath to reach Kausani or Gwaldam.
- Kausani offers a panoramic view of the Himalayan range with Bageshwar valley floating below while Gwaldam offers a more touching view of Trishul peak and offers much more snow. Just for info., Gwaldam lies inside the Gharwal region and is just sitting on the border of Kumaon and Gharwal so that it can be done under this circuit too.
- Relaxing day and enjoy the sunset/sunrise golden glow from Kausani or Gwaldam.
Day 8 | Kausani/Gwaldam – Almora – Mukteshwar / Ramgarh OR Kausani – Ranikhet / Manila
- If you have less time and want to return home, you can do a 14 Hr drive from Kausani or Gwaldam back home to Delhi
- Else enjoy the drive at ease for a stay either at Mukteshwar / Ramgarh or move towards Ranikhet / Manila side from Kausani / Gwaldam
- In case you never heard of Manila, then well, check: Manila – Kumaon, A Lesser Known Offbeat Place in Uttarakhand near Delhi
- Relaxing day and enjoy the sunset/sunrise golden glow from Kausani or Gwaldam.
Day 9 | Rest at Mukteshwar / Ramgarh (Day trip to Sattal / Bhimtal / Naukuchiyatal) OR Ranikhet / Manila – Delhi
- You can rest at Mukteshwar or Ramgarh or maybe make a day trip to Sattal / Bhimtal / Naukuchiyataal or in case you decided to go towards Ranikhet / Manila, start for home from there. You can even start for home from Mukteshwar covering these lakes if you start early in the day. Bhimtal, in any case, will fall on the route only.
- Stay at Mukteshwar/Ramgarh or reach the sweet home.
Day 10 | Mukteshwar / Ramgarh – Delhi
- Reach the sweet home.
Travel Tip: You may also plan to stay at Lohaghat or Abbott Mount if you decide to come down home from Chaukori via the Pithoragarh side.
Phone Signals with Data Connectivity in Kumaon
In my last trip, I was carrying Airtel Postpaid, BSNL Postpaid and Vodafone Postpaid were with some friends. Following was the signal status:
- All three were working mostly through all the days except Dharchula.
- At Dharchula Airtel was having Nepal International Roaming. Vodafone was dead. BSNL was working as a local connection.
- Only a few sections of the roads were there where Airtel and Vodafone were not working. BSNL had the widest coverage among all.
- Data Connectivity was almost always available wherever the signals were present though it was mostly 2G and in some towns like Gwaldam (Gharwal border), even 3G was running :D.
Travel Tip: Look out for these offbeat easy treks in Uttarakhand to plan your upcoming trip in this Himalayan state.
Road Conditions in Kumaon Trip
Let me share the breakdown of road conditions for your upcoming trip to Kumaon. You will be able to better plan the trip and timings of the day knowing these road conditions.
Delhi – Moradabad – Kashipur
The road conditions from Delhi to Moradabad are smooth sailing. But for traveling to Kashipur from Moradabad, you can take two roads. One road goes parallel to Thakurdwara, and the other goes via Baazpur.
Moradabad – Kashipur via road parallel to Thakurdwara: 2-3 km of the road in horrible state rest mostly good though single lane. After crossing Moradabad, you take a left to Kashipur, and after driving for 3-4 km, you will see a board saying Nainital on the right. Take that right, that road will take you towards Baazpur.
Do not go to Baazpur, but on that road, there will be one crossing after 6-7 km, where you need to take a left. That road is narrow and pathetic for 2-3 km. However, it will save you from a similar mess of 10-12 km on each parallel road running towards Nainital via Baazpur and Kashipur via Thakurdwara, respectively.
This road will take you to Kashipur from where you follow the route to Ramnagar and then to Jim Corbett – Mohaan. If it is night, it is better to take the route from Haldwani – Rampur, IMO.
Kashipur to Manila to Gwaldam
Kashipur – Ramnagar – Jim Corbett – Mohaan – Marchula: Mostly good roads with some bad patches in between.
Marchula – Maulikhal – Dotiyal – Rakshthal – Manila: Mostly Excellent, smooth sailing.
Manila – Jainal – Masi: Good roads mostly.
Masi – Chaukotia: Mostly bad road, pavement underway.
Chaukotia – Dwaraghat – Someshwar – Kausani – Baijnath – Gwaldam: Very Good roads mostly.
Gwaldam to Munsiyari
Gwaldam – Bageshwar – Chaukori – Thal: Very Good roads mostly but single-lane having quite many curves. Guys with motion sickness take care on this route. Earlier, we planned to take Kapkot – Tejam route to Munsiyari, but locals asked us to go via the Chaukori route from Bageshwar as for small car Kapkot route was too bad in shape. Mostly High GC vehicles run over that route. However, the Kapkot route is about 30 KMs shorter than the Chaukori route.
Thal – Tejam – Birthi – Kalimuni Top – Munsiyari: The road starts to deteriorate after Thal towards Munsiyari. There are some steep stretches where you need to push the vehicle though not physically ;), some bad stretches where if in the small car, then you need to be careful. About 30-35% of the road is in such a state. But the rest of the road is in good condition. Though we found some hard ice after Kalimuni Top, it was manageable.
Munsiyari to Madkote to Dharchula
Munsiyari – Darkot: Good roads mostly being well tarred.
Darkot – Madkote – Jaulijibi: Mostly bad roads but very scenic drive. I will say 60% of the road is quite bad with about 12-15% very very bad and rest 40% odd road is good and excellent in patches. It was one of the most beautiful roads with the unique scenic landscape around to drive in Uttarakhand. Gori Ganga river accompanies you up to Jaulijibi, adds the charm to the drive. There were multiple landslide points, water crossings, creaking wooden bridges. The Water crossings in summers/rains would surely mean trouble due to swollen water levels. If you have been to Kinnaur Valley up to Nako in Himachal Pradesh then you can co-relate the road conditions much to it as it made me remind of those roads & views in Kinnaur only with Sutluj flowing beside 🙂
Jaulijibi – Dharchula: Mostly bad and very bad in shape, broken.
Jaulijibi to Chaukori via Askote – Didihat
Jaulijibi – Askote – Didihat: Mostly bad in shape with few good patches in between. Jaulijibi is a merging point where the road from Munsiyari and Pitthorgarh – Askote meets. We planned to go via Pitthoragarh – Lohaghat earlier, but then as Dharchula was not that good, we planned to go to Chaukori via Askote – Didihat road and rest there for a couple of days.
Didihat – Thal – Chaukori: Mostly good and very good in shape.
Chaukori – Berinag – Sheraghat – Dhaulchinna – Barechinna – Almora: Mostly excellent roads with lovely dense forests, totally loved the drive. The road between Golu Devta Temple and Barechinna was in bad shape, else like I said mostly perfect.
Chaukori – Patal Bhuvaneshwar: Very bad in shape after Raigara. Butter smooth roads from Berinag to Chaukori.
Chaukori to Almora to Moradabad
Almora – Bhimtal – Kathgodam – Haldwani – Rudrapur: Very good roads, smooth sailing.
Rudrapur – Rampur – Moradabad: Mix of bad and average roads. The road between Rudrapur and Rampur has improved but still has a lot of potholes where the car gets some abuse as you tend to drive fast.
Travel Tip: Do not forget to check this list of things to carry on a road trip to the Himalayas.
I am sure the above itinerary for the Kumaon region if not help you 100% with planning a trip to Uttarkhand but can certainly act as a starting point for your upcoming Kumaon trip or a trip to any of these places mentioned in the itinerary.
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Do share your valuable thoughts or queries or doubts you have, and we can discuss more your upcoming Travel Plans for Kumaon either in the comments below or in the Itinerary Advice section of the DoW Community. We will be happy to help you plan your trip :).