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Worldwatch: Tripping in leopard world

Mukteshwar is not a weekend break. As you need at least five days to savour the snow-kissed Himalayas, and rum-soaked evenings.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 14:56 IST

Old man Corbett said there was ‘no place more beautiful than this and no climate anymore salubrious’. Nothing much has changed since he last ran around the slopes chasing Spots.

Like most of the smaller hill towns in Uttaranchal, such as Ranikhet and Lansdowne, Mukteshwar’s charm lies in the complete absence of commercial commotion.

At an altitude of 7,500 feet, this little village is 51 km from Nainital and is engulfed with fruit-laden orchards and dense coniferous forests. Pick a spot higher up any of the hills and the panoramic view of the snow-kissed Himalayas is breath-taking sight.

 

Staying  there
Corbett Cottage: Contact the District Magistrate/ District Board, Nainital (STD-05942) for reservations

Mountain Trail: Mount Trail Holidays Pvt Ltd, 305/ A23, Satija House, Dr Mukherjee Nagar Commercial Complex, New Delhi-110 009 Tel/Fax: 765 2024 / 4053, 725 0008. Email: mayank@del3.vsnl.net.in

Camp Purple: Wildrift Adventures, M-72, Saket (I floor), New Delhi-110017, India, Telephone: +91-11-29561202, Fax: +91-11-29562342, Email: info@wildrift.com

Getting there

Mukteshwar is 333km from Delhi, at the end of a motorable by-road that takes off from the Kathgodam- Nainital-Bhowali main route.


If you are among those who think you have to do something while on a vacation give this place the skip. Unless you want to put those hamstrings into action on some picturesque trekking routes.

Just before you reach Mukteshwar you can stop by a local temple, which is just off the road. Though you’ll have to climb a bit to get to it. Take a stroll down to Chauthi Jaali, a rocky cliff protruding out of the hillside.

If you lean over the slanting rocks, you can see the base of the mountain but make sure someone has you by the collar! At night, the locals say you can hear the big cats, or at least their coughing grunts.

If you look very hard, you might spot a pug mark, but it will most probably be a confused dog rather than a leopard. As with all small hill stations neighbouring Nainital, the drive is part of the vacation.

To get here from Nainital, you wind your way through ancient oak and pine sentinels, passing the occasional waterfall and inquisitive shepherd boy on the way.

Accommodation options in Mukteshwar includes the nostalgic Corbett Cottage, an offbeat PWD exotic bungalow complete with marble fireplaces and a sun-washed private lawn with a fantastic view of the valley.

The cottage has retained its colonial charm ever since JC came to shoot the notorious Mukteshwar tigress. The Mountain Trail resort is an eco-friendly joint with spacious rooms, a restaurant, quarters for travelling help, indoor sports and horrors, a disco!

For those who like their Himalayas undiluted, Camp Purple offers safari tents with camp cots, mattresses and sleeping bags. Electricity use is limited to the bare necessities, as the camp operators prefer guests to enjoy the great outdoors.

Reserve roughly a week for yourself when you come here. One day to get here, four days to soak it in and the last to force yourself to leave.