Munsiyari is one of those gorgeous places which lies in the uppermost part of India. It is the most picturesque place I have been too and the alluring valley surrounded by snow capped peaks is something which everyone should experience at least once in their life. Sure, reaching such places is difficult but it is also equally fruitful nonetheless. The view is gorgeous, there is serenity everywhere and people are kind here.
I went to Munsiyari a year back in the month of April. As much as I would like to settle in this quaint place, I also want urge to other travellers to not miss out on this beautiful place. Below is a step by step guide to this amazing place, along with itinerary, where to stay and how to reach. I will also provide details on trekking routes that one can commence from here and details on ATMs and mobile connectivity.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Best Time to visit Munsiyari
Munsiyari can be visited any time of the year. But again, it depends on what backdrop and season you want to experience. Tourists mostly come during the month of March to April. During these months one can witness rhododendron flowers along with a pleasant weather and bustling streets. Since the weather is clear, reaching during these months is not a problem and the view of distant peaks is clear as well.
However, if you want to experience snow and see the long stretches of white throughout the place, the best time for you would be from November to March. During this time, many couples can also be spotted who come here to celebrate their honeymoon. However, others come during this time to also have an absolute thrilling skiing experience as well.
But, in my opinion, one should avoid coming during the monsoon. This is because reaching here during that time becomes difficult. Since the road is really steep the problem of landslides become prominent as well. Furthermore, site seeing can also become extremely difficult if the weather is not clear during your visit.
Munsiyari is located in the Pithorgarh district of Uttarakhand. It has an altitude of approximately 2,300 meters. The best part about this place is that it is covered with snow peaked Himalayan ranges. It falls on the ancient trade route of Tibet and also acts as the entrance to Johar valley.
It is also entitled as the ‘Little Kashmir’. From here, one can see the gorgeous ranges of ‘Panchachuli’ ranges, which is a group of five peaks and also the most important attraction of Munsiyari.
Sightseeing in Munsiyari
Munsiyari is trekker’s paradise. It is also the base camp for Nanda Devi trek. However, apart from the trekking spots there are several sightseeing places near Munsiyari which makes this place a perfect weekend getaway.
Mythology: ‘Chuli’ in the word Panchachuli means Chulah, which means cooking hearths. It is said that the last meal cooked by the Pandavas of Mahabharata was in Munsiyari before they went to heaven. Hence the name Panchachuli was given to the five mighty peaks.
These peaks are visible from all over Munsiyari. One can also witness the beautiful sunrise as the sun rises right behind these peaks. Furthermore, if you are lucky, you can also see the moonrise right after the sunset just behind these peaks.
This hidden waterfall lies about 14 KMs and one can easily trek to this place. It lies amidst the forest area and the ideal time to visit this place is from September to June. This is because the monsoon time ends and the flow of the waterfall is more as compared to the other months.
Balanti Potato Farm
These farms are closest to the Munsiyari bus stand itself and from here the view of Panchachuli peaks is spectacular. One has to commence a 2 KMs trek to reach to this place and can see the vegetation of potatoes and apple in this farm,
Tourists who come to Munsiyari should definitely not miss this trek. This is a fairly easy trek and one can also witness the snowline from here during the summer season as well. In fact, international tourists carry their tents to camp. This is majorly because witnessing the sunrise from here would be an altogether a different experience. One can as well see the sunrise from the town itself, but due to the height of Khaliya top, the view during sunrise is even better. Since it is at a gradient height, the view of Panchachuli peaks become even more mesmerizing from here.
I took a guide to this place since there are no defined paths to reach to the top. The guide charged a minimal amount of INR 500/- after bargaining. It is better to take a guide here since a defined path to the top has not been laid out. Although the trek is comparatively easy, but the path is not defined and one has to cross the forest area to reach to the top.
Munsiyari is the base camp to reach the Nanda Devi temple. This temple can be reached after trekking for 3 KMs from Munsiyari main market itself.
Treks from Munsiyari
Munsiyari is famous for its trek, both short and long ones. Khaliya top is one of the shortest treks from Munsiyari, along with the trek to Nanda Devi temple. Some of the long treks are to – Milam Glacier, Namik Glacier and Ralam Glacier.
Milan Glacier Trek
This glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the Kumaon region. Munsiyari is the base camp for this trek and one can see the beautiful river flowing of Gori Ganga River. The total duration of the trek is 9 days.
Ralam Glacier Trek
This glacier is also located in the Kumaon region and is divided into two – lower Ralam and upper Ralam. It is about 15 KMs from Munsiyari. The total duration of the trek is 8 days.
Namik Glacier Trek
This 10 day’s trek is located in the Kumaon region and one can see the Nanda Devi peaks, Nanda Kot and Trishul. It is one of the least explored regions in Uttarakhand and is about 40 KMs from Munsiyari which acts as the base camp for this trek. One can also witness saltwater springs in this region.
Places Near Munsiyari
There are several other places that can be explored near Munsiyari, if one has more days in hand –
Farther from Munsiyari, this is a very beautiful hill top located about 160 KMs from Munsiyari. Even this hill station offers the majestic view of various snow caped mountains and is a perfect place to explore a lesser touristy spot.
If you go farther away, lying almost 175 KMs away from Munsiyari lies another peaceful town, Binsar. Binsar is famously known for its Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary and has a temple which is specially dedicated to Lord Shiva
This place is closer to Mukteshwar and is again famous for its temple – Bagnath. This place is very religious significant and is rich with history. During the Hindu festivals, this place is worth a site since the entire town celebrates the festivals with pure joy.
4 Day Itinerary for Munsiyari
Day 0: Take an overnight bus from Delhi, from Anand Vihar ISBT bus stop. Since there are no direct buses till Munsiyari, the best would be to catch a bus till Haldwani. From Haldwani there are several buses/shared taxis that run till Munsiyari
Day 1: After reaching Haldwani early in the morning, catch another bus or a shared taxi for Munsiyari. You can also hire a private taxi from here, but if you are traveling solo or has a budget set in mind, buses will be the feasible option. The bus leaves at 6:30 AM in the morning so it would always be better to reach Haldwani as soon as you can. Otherwise, a shared taxi can do wonders if you miss the bus.
You will reach Munsiyari late in the evening, since the distance between the Haldwani and Munsiyari is about 9-10 hours. The roads are really rough in between. Since you will reach after a long ride, best would be to take rest today and marvel the Panchachuli peaks from your hotel room. You can also go out in the market during the night to have dinner and soak in the peaceful vibes of the place.
Day 2: Today, you can start with the sightseeing activities. You can go to Khaliya top first, early in the morning after breakfast. The trek takes an hour to two, depending on the speed and you can spend as much time as you wish to on the top. The view from the top is really beautiful. Come back to the town by afternoon and after having lunch explore the rest of the places, like, Balanti Potato Farm.
Day 3: Today, get up early in the morning to see the sunrise. Explore rest of the places like – Nanda Devi temple, Birthi falls today. You can also do some shopping from the market and talk to the locals today.
Day 4: Take the bus back to Haldwani early in the morning. The other option could be to pre book a seat in the shared taxi a day in advance. Both buses or shared cabs leave from Munsiyari early in the morning. So start your day early and have breakfast in the hotel or homestay itself.
How to Reach Munsiyari
Road – There are no direct buses to Munsiyari. The best option for you would be to take a bus till Haldwani. Buses from ISBT Anand Vihar runs frequently till Haldwani.
Take an overnight bus till Haldwani that will drop you off at the bus stand by 6 AM in the morning. From here, you have several options. Either you can take a bus or a shared taxi till Munsiyari.
Private taxi is also an option, however, if you want to reduce cost, shared taxi would be the most feasible option.
Train – The nearest bus stand to Munsiyari is Kathgodam. It is advisable to book your train seats well in advance because the train fills fast. From Kathgodam there are frequent buses leaving for Munsiyari.
Air – The nearest airport to Munsiyari is Pantnagar Airport and is situated in the Nainital region of Uttarakhand. From here, you take a cab directly to Munsiyari. Or if you want to reduce cost, you can take a cab till Almora and from Almora you can take a bus or shared taxi.
Accommodations in Munsiyari
I stayed in Martolia Family Guest House in Sarmoli. It had parking facilities and also provided with homely food. But this is not it, the best part of this homestay was that the Panchachuli peaks were right in front of this peak. Thus, I was able to enjoy the sunrise right there from my little room. The washroom was clean and had a TV set installed in the room.
The hospitality was commendable and since the guest house was located a little far away from the market, the peace was very welcoming and enriching.
I think this has to be the best accommodation in Munsiyari for being so picturesque.
Munsiyari has ATM availability, as it is slowly becoming a tourist spot. The market area has the ATM stoppages for the financial needs.
The network connectivity is good here, however, Vodafone’s internet connection is very slow. The best is BSNL as a service provider.
In my opinion, a 3-day trip to Munsiyari is ideal for someone who wants peace and serenity at the same time. If you are a trekking enthusiast and have more days in hand, then this place is again a perfect place to commence your adventures from. With so many trekking spots and glaciers to explore, it offers the perfect start point to trekking enthusiasts.
From here, one can witness snowline routes and the five peaks which offers the best sunrise and moonrise views.
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