Whenever I think of penning down my memories about Munsiyari….I am baffled. A plethora of bright green rain soaked images comes into my mind. Those innocent faces with whom we spent a few days will always remain in our heart.No words can describe the ecstasy we had, when the clouds sailed under our feet and we felt ourselves at the top of the world. Munsiyari is not just a travel destination but an experience.
So, I thought of writing my experience in a series of two: the first part about our road trip and the second about our stay.
Here goes the story of the road trip from Chaukori to Munsiyari…………………..
On the previous evening before leaving from Chaukori one of our friends who had visited Munsiyari recently, gave me a call . Her only piece of advice was to be alert of your surroundings while travelling because the mountains and the forests enroute have hidden treasures which can be discovered only by being attentive.
The next morning the excited and fully-charged team, a.k.a me, my hubby, my daughter and my two pet dogs ( Lassy and Chocos ) started off for Munsiyari. Distance from Chaukori to Munsiyari is 95 kms. Thal is a vital pit-stop while travelling towards Munsiyari because it is the last place enroute to fill up fuel tank and rumbling stomach.
Distance between Chaukori and Thal is 23 kms. and it passed in a whisk enjoying curvy roads of the mountains moving under the canopy formed by the branches of the forests.
At Thal, we filled up the vehicle’s tank. Thal to Munsiyari under perfect condition can be done in 2½ hours.
From Thal, the lofty mountain slopes cloaked in dense green forests towered over the road and on the other side the colossal river Ramganga flows in the deep gorge.The river has a deep greenish tint. The magical monsoon has resurrected the river, celebrating its new life it danced over the rocks , gurgling and bubbling it flowed on its journey. The forest is so dense that the daylight cannot penetrate it’s thick vegetation and reach the moist, green floor.The continuous buzzing sound of the cicadas from the forest further mystifies the surroundings.
White fluffy clouds dribbled down the mountains and the breeze gently steered it’s direction. The whole atmosphere was so “Monsoony”, the Sun could not be seen, the breeze carried the aroma of rain-soaked soil and the forest vegetation. We could see the rain chasing us and when we halted near Tejam, it almost caught up with us.We hurried inside the car and drove away only to be chased by it again.
Just a few kms. after crossing Thal, the monotony of the deep green forests were intervened by bright pink inflorescence hanging from the small shrubs growing on the branches of the gigantic trees. The beautiful sighting brought our car to a halt. We moved closer to the brae which housed this beautiful flowers. Our excitement reached its zenith when we discovered those pink flowers were Orchids…for the first time we saw Orchids growing in their natural habitat..hidden in the deepest forest, kept as a secret from the rest of the world. On further search on the net we found those were Fox-tail Orchids.
The road condition deteriorates after Nachni but the pristine beauty of the place compensates it.
Monsoons give birth to numerous stream-lets which plunges from great heights into the valley and hurriedly rushes towards the river . From far they look like white threads cutting across the deep green Herculean mountain slopes. After a while the mind becomes so trained that they can spot these thin threads from far across the valley.
It was raining heavily and rainwater were gushing across the causeways. The newly born voluminous streamlets after diving from the top, hurled across the causeway and plunged, disappearing in the darkness of the forest down below. The roads at the causeways are eroded off its top layers due to the continous flow of rainwater in monsoon. You need to drive really slow on such roads. We saw a car at such a causeway, with all its people out of the cabin guiding the driver, from every possible direction, to ferry the causeway . The driver wore a terrified look on his face, the car satirically bore a sticker “Tough Boyz” on its rear wind shield.
The rain grew in strength as we moved further up and our hope to see Birthi falls enroute was doomed. But, no one can pass-by Birthi without halting there for few seconds..it is the enormity and grandeur of this Falls, on such a heavily raining day that is sure to bind you to this place atleast for few moments. We sat in our car, and soaked ourselves in the ferocious yet inexplicable beauty of the Birthi .
But, on our way back from Munsiyari, our wish was fulfilled by Mother Nature. She was calmer on that day and we didnot miss the chance of exploring the Birthi Falls.
According to the sign board placed at the site from where one has to walk upto the foot of the Falls, recorded the height as 125 mts. There is a small shack selling Maggi and tea ,just near the signboard. We planned to sip into a hot cuppa tea after relishing the beauty. Our uphill walk started, the path has a gentle gradient and is easily doable . At each turn we paused for few moments and immeresed ourselves in the beauty of the place. Just as it seemed that we have already reached the Falls, we discovered that there is one more turn waiting for us and we moved forward to discover the surprise waiting for us on the next turn.A surprise did certainly wait for us on such a turn ….I saw a greyish stone with a slight blue tint move !!!!! I, with a little fear and lots of curiosity moved towards it and what a sight it was. A chameleon with its expert skill of camouflage has perfectly matched its color with the stone. Sensing our presence, it crawled inside a critter but it came out with confidence on presuming we meant no harm. We clicked as many photographs as possible of this beautiful creature….Agama Rock Chameleon.In few seconds we became expert in spotting them and were filled with wonder on noticing how each of them perfectly matched the shade of the stone on which they were lying.
Swinging with the twists and turns of the stone stepway we reached the top…we turned back to behold the amazing minuscule landscape painting far down below. The gorgeous Birthi Falls swooped from a colossial cliff and fell into a pool. Many people were bathing in the pool and few came out with bleeding feet as the leeches by the pool had a gala time .
For reaching Munsiyari, one has to cross the Khalia top Pass which has an altitude of 3500 metres. There is a small temple at that altitude and on a clear day Panchachuli, Rajrambha, Hardeol, Nanda Kot, and Nanda Devi ranges can be viewed from this point. Roads became steeper and narrower as we approached towards Khalia Top. Inspite of the road getting tougher, we were brimming with excitement as it was the first time we would be crossing a mountain pass. The temple appeared as a silhouette through the curtain of torrential rain but, on our return journey we had a better view.What we saw on that bright clear day was like a leaf from a Painter’s file. The serpentine mountain road was guarded by the steep mountain slopes covered in green carpet on one side and on the other side the slope sinks into the unfathomable depth.Eyes tries to find the end of the curvy road slithering on the mountains, which vanishes somewhere down below.
Numerous Rhododendron trees lines the road. So many photographs flashed in my mind of these trees in full bloom during March and April, where did I see them I donot remember, but the enchanting enigma of these place which those photographs revealed during the blooming season was carefully preserved somewhere in my mind.
After crossing Khalia top, it takes half an hour to reach Munsiyari.
I returned from this trip with bagful of memories….Memories that I will nurture throughout my Life…
Meet you at Munsiyari in my next blog……………..