Ever heard of the ancient salt route to Tibet and the enchanting Johar valley? For those who are not aware, here is the story–owing to the transportation of one of the most valuable commodities of the ancient times i.e. salt, this route came into existence. Crossing though the wondrous glaciers and challenging valleys, this route had once made salt, our food essential the super expensive ‘white gold’. Apart from the challenges, this route itself speaks of an enigma full of challenges and delightful adventure. The route has long perished from its purpose but the adventure and beauty remains intact and a trip across this path is worth a try for roving souls. Tearing a piece of this path, at the mouth of the Johar valley there rests Munsiyari, a small town of distinct natural delights. The good news is that this region is no longer a restricted area in the Himalayan Inner Line as in the past. Wedged in between the borders of India, China and Nepal, access to Munsiyari has been now eased.
Munsiyari, a small town in the Pithoragarh district of the hill-state of Uttarakhand lies at the base of the great Himalayan mountain range. As unique as its name, this place has evolved itself as the latest favorite hill station in the state. Situated at an elevation of about 7,200 ft, Munsiyari is a trekker’s abode since a lot of the great Himalayan hiking kicks off from this small abode of mountains and green forests. The name suggests a ‘place with snow’ and when the winter is miles away from the rest of the country, this place gathers up soft coats of snow over its green sheath but the effect only comes out more positive.
The whiteness around the Goriganga River banks are justifiable reason to spend one’s winter vacations, however, for the adventure seekers this place is a bustling spot during the summer months. And for those who never mind the seasonal interference, Munsiyari is a place to be in any part of the year. Don’t be surprised when you spot different types of people visiting this small town-from meditating souls, mountaineers, glacier enthusiasts, trekkers, nature lovers to tired city folk-this place has answer to all the needs. For the nature lovers, the region is home of leopard, panther, mountain bear, musk deer and other animals and birds.
The main attraction in Munsiyari is its large garden of Rhododendron called Betulidhar. Rhodendron happens to be the state flower of Uttarakhand and a visit to Munsiyari is incomplete until some time is spent this. But, the Nanda Devi Temple, at a 3km stimulating trek from Munsiyari is the most visited site in the area. The temple, no doubt, has placed Uttarakhand in the Indian pilgrimage map. Besides, a trip to Darkot and Madkot, two most picturesque spots near Munsiyari, is often recommended for those who are interested in nature walks but not hiking.
Visit Munsiyari during the monsoon and you will be overwhelmed to see the water gurgling out of the Birthi Falls. It is unimaginable to envision this lively fall standing frozen during the winters when you see it in its monsoon glory. Falling from a height of 126 mts, this falls defines the attraction of Munsiyari in complete new fashion. For those who want to explore beyond these, there are innumerable reasons, legends and locations to spend a memorable vacation here.