Looking for offbeat places in Uttarakhand? Check out Munsiyari

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Are you looking for offbeat places to visit in Uttarakhand for your next holiday? If yes, check out Munsiyari but remember one thing – Munsiyari is not really for everyone. There are no shopping malls, no fancy restaurants, no large markets, no five-star hotels. Even getting here is not easy. Suppose your idea of a vacation is visiting famous tourist places in Uttarakhand like Mussoorie or Nainital. In that case, this sleepy little town might disappoint you. But if you love to visit offbeat destinations and not so crowded places, then Munsiyari will suit you just fine. Surrounded by mighty snow-capped peaks and dense forest, Munsiyari offers natural beauty at its best without asking its visitors to go too remote.

Must-visit places in Munsiyari, Kumaon, Uttarakhand
Offbeat places to visit in Uttarakhand – Munsiyari

Does it seem like you still want to go to Munsiyari? 

Well, if that’s the case, let me share my experience of visiting this quaint tiny hamlet tucked in the hills of Kumaon.

Let’s start with its location.

Where is Munsiyari located?

VO: Munsiyari is located at a distance of 135 kilometres from Pithoragarh, 200 kilometres from Almora and about 600 kilometres from Delhi. It is considered the gateway to the Johar valley of the inner Himalayas. It sits at an ancient trade route between India and Tibet.

It is so close to Nepal and Tibet that, at times, my phone caught their network signal. 

Journey – how to reach Munsiyari

You can take different routes to reach Munsiyari. Most people travel via Nanital and Almora, which is about 620 kilometres from Delhi and easily takes around 16-18 hours to cover if driven non-stop. A night halt is a must on this arduous route.

Delhi – Ghaziabad – Amroha – Bazpur – Nainital – Almora – Binsar – Kapkot – Chaukori – Thal – Munsiyari

Delhi to munsiyari route via Almora, Nainital
Delhi to munsiyari route via Almora, Nainital

I took a different route as we spent a few days at our friend’s home in Champawat.

Delhi – Ghaziabad – Moradabad – Sitarganj – Tanakpur – Champawat – Pithoragarh – Thal – Munsiyari

Delhi to Munsiyari route via Champawat
Delhi to Munsiyari route via Champawat, Pithoragarh

The road was in excellent condition up to Champawat. Still, after that, it became a narrow winding road with too many hairpin bends. But I was not alone on this journey. Mighty rivers such as Kali, Ramganga and Gauri Ganga kept flowing along the route, cutting through towering lush green mountains on both sides. There were not many dhabas or toilet places on the way, so we took breaks at Pithoragarh and Thal.

What to see in Munsiyari

Munsiyari maybe just a tiny hamlet, but there are plenty of places for sightseeing here. Ideally, a week should be enough if you are not going on any long trek. 

Here are the must-visit places in Munsiyari:

Birthi falls

Before you reach Munsiyari, you’ll come across a place that’s hard to miss and should not be missed at all. Birthi Falls is a huge waterfall located about 35 kilometres from Munsiyari on Munsiyari – Thal road. To reach the waterfall, you will have to leave your vehicle near the KMVN Tourist lodge before the village of Birthi and walk a short and easy trek. The waterfall is surrounded by thick forest and is a popular tourist spot. I took a night halt here.

Offbeat places in Uttarakhand - Don't miss out Birthi Falls on the way to Munsiyari
Offbeat places in Uttarakhand – Don’t miss out Birthi Falls on the way to Munsiyari

Tip: Best time to visit is right after the rains – from September to October. I was told it freezes in winters.

Panchachuli peaks 

As soon as you start nearing Munsiyari, a series of five snow-capped high mountains welcome you. The altitude of the peaks ranges from 6,334 meters (20,781 ft) to 6,904 meters (22,651 ft) and are visible from everywhere in Munsiyari. The word ‘Chuli’ here means Chulha, a cooking hearth. So Panchchuli translates as ‘Panch Chulha’. It is said that this is where the Pandavas cooked their last meal before reaching heaven and hence the name. The imposing peaks are a sight to behold and the greatest attraction of Munsiyari. 

Offbeat Places in Uttarakhand - Panchachuli Peaks are visible from everywhere in Munsiyari.
Offbeat Places in Uttarakhand Panchachuli Peaks are visible from everywhere in Munsiyari.

Tip: The best view is when the sun comes up from behind the peaks at the time of sunrise.

Nanda Devi Temple

Nanda Devi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Nanda or Parvati and can be reached after an easy trek of 3 kilometres, or you can drive down. Considered one of the oldest and most important Hindu religious sites, it also provides a great view of the peaks. Built on the edge of a cliff, Nanda Devi offers a great panoramic view of the slopes and surrounding mountains. The towering Panchachulli peaks appear even closer from here. The temple area has well-manicured gardens, a small snack shop and an observation tower for obstruction-free views of the valley and Panchachuli peaks.

Must-visit places in Munsiyari - Nanda Devi offers a great panoramic view of the slopes and surrounding mountains.
Must-visit places in Munsiyari – Nanda Devi offers a great panoramic view of the slopes and surrounding mountains.

Tip: Sunset or sunrise is a perfect time to visit Nanda Devi Temple.

Tribal Heritage Museum

Established in 2000 by an esteemed local historian and author, Sher Singh Pangtey, Tribal Heritage Museum is a small cultural private museum. It showcases the history, culture, traditions and lifestyle of the Bhotia people, who are an ethnolinguistic group of people residing in the upper Himalayan valleys of the Kumaon and Garhwal divisions of Uttarakhand. 

Tribal Heritage Museum is a small cultural private museum
Must-visit places in Munsiyari – Tribal Heritage Museum is a small cultural private museum

There are life-like images in the museum throwing light on different aspects of local life and culture like old photos, maps, coins, documents, local utensils, wooden bottles, native dresses and attires and many more.

The story of how this museum was started is as interesting as the artefacts showcased here. In the late 20th century, Dr SS Pangtey noticed that the illiterate village women were taken on a ride by the local hawkers, who would buy expensive brass and copper utensils at throwaway prices. He started collecting those utensils and other artefacts from them and single handily made this museum preserve the local culture and heritage of the region.

Khaliya Top

Khaliya Top is a mix of many things in Munsiyari. It is an easy trek, viewpoint, a camping ground, a beautiful meadow, and a sunrise point. The meadow is surrounded by snowy peaks and provides a stunning view of the majestic Panchachuli, Rajrambha, Hardeol and Nanda Kot peaks. It is a six kilometres long trail that starts from Balanti Farm and climbs gradually. 

Khaliya Top is a an easy trek with a great viewpoint, camping ground, a beautiful meadow, and a sunrise point
Khaliya Top is a an easy trek with a great viewpoint, camping ground, a beautiful meadow, and a sunrise point

Tip: Make sure to carry loads of water and some food to munch. Start as early as possible.

Thamri Kund

Thamrin Kund, also known as Thamri Tal, is another small lake located about a 3 kilometres long trail from Munsiyari. It is not much of a lake, to be honest, but more of a small pond. The trek, however, is a very scenic one and is worth trying if you had the time. The small lake and the nearby areas are also famous as a natural habitat of Musk deer which can be of interest to wildlife enthusiasts. I was low on time so, I didn’t do the trek.

Tip: If possible, visit it during Sep-oct or May-June for better views.

Saras Market

Saras market is a local women-led Sangathan that sells woollen products, herbs, agricultural products and souvenir items made by the local mountain women from around 10-12 villages. Each product carries the MRP and the name of the person who has made it. 

herbs, agricultural products and souvenir items made by the local mountain women
Places to shop in Munsiyari – Saras Market for handwoven woollens, herbs, agricultural products and souvenir items made by the local mountain women

Darkot Village

And, if you want to see how those woollies are made, then a quick trip to Darkot is a must. As you enter this tiny hamlet, idyllically situated on Market road, about 6 km from Munsiyari, you are welcomed by a large yellow gate and a long flight of steps descending into the bowels of the mountain. 

Must-visit places in Munsiyari - Drakot village to purchase Angora wool products
Must-visit places in Munsiyari – Drakot village to purchase handwoven Angora rabbit woollens

Handwoven Angora rabbit woollens and pashmina shawls are the specialities of this village. Almost the entire village is engaged in this trade. 

Despite spending a week in Munsiyari, I felt it was too little. And, I will return to ski or trek, for which it is renowned.

Where to stay

Kumaun Vikas Mandal’s Guest House was the first hotel I checked into but found it below average for its service, facilities and even views. That’s why I shifted to Hotel Bala Paradise, which was not only cheaper than the KMVN guest house but had better amenities and a more welcoming staff. 

Other good places to stay are Hotel Milam Inn and Ark Homestays at Sarmoli Village.

Where to stay in Munsiyari, Uttarakhand - Sarmoli Homestays
Where to stay in Munsiyari, Uttarakhand – Sarmoli Homestays

Munsiyari is relatively small in size, and the accommodations are limited, so please book in advance, especially during the long weekends or holiday season. 

Best time to visit Munsiyari

Munsiyari looks pretty in every season, but if you crave clear skies and pleasant sunny days with cooler nights, then the months of March-June and mid-September-October are perfect for visiting Munsiyari. This is also an ideal period for trekking in the nearby mountains.

So, what’s your verdict – should you go to Munsiyari or not? Are there any other offbeat places in Uttarakhand that you would recommend to visit?

If you liked this article, please comment below and share it with your friends and families.

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43 Comments

  • Meki says:

    You took great pictures!!! This is my first time hearing about Munsiyari — definitely looks like a must-visit place!

  • Marina says:

    I will probably never see this place. But thank you for this guide. I can at least imagine myself in those places. 🙂

  • Cristina Petrini says:

    Although I do not like the mountains or rather everything that is not coastal, this almost alien landscape is really breathtaking and there is so much to explore.

  • Brianne says:

    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I would definitely love to take the family to Uttarakhand and explore this area.

  • Claudia says:

    This is fantastic! I always love learning about spots in an area that aren’t the run of the mill tourist traps.

    • Kerry says:

      Munsiyari looks like the perfect place when you just want to escape from the world. I really like the look of Birthi falls. Would love to visit

  • Kuntala says:

    There’s nothing better than exploring the “real” parts of an area when you travel. I always love a guide like this that shows me where those places are.

  • Elizabeth O says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve often said that the best way to get to know an area is to go where the other tourists don’t.

  • Dominique Walton Brooks says:

    Wow, these photographs were amazing, I was not familiar with this area but you have peaked my curiosity. Thank you for sharing this with us — I have learned something new!

  • Eileen M Loya says:

    Wow! I’d love to be able to explore that place! The scenery is just so stunning! I would love to see the sunrise from Khaliya Top!

  • Gervin Khan says:

    This place looks really wonderful and so mesmerizing. The ambience the place gives makes you calm and peace is all around. We can meditate and charge our being especially what’s inside of us.

  • Lyanna Soria says:

    I’ve never heard of Munsiyari before but that sounds like a wonderful place to visit someday. Thanks for sharing such informative post and it’s such a helpful guide especially to those trying to visit that place.

  • Claudia Blanton says:

    I personally prefer the quiet places, like this one – if I want crowds, I would stay at home, I live in Las Vegas, so I got enough of that, lol. Blessings!

  • Daniel Sierra says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this experience, since the lockdown and everything going on with the pandemic I am happy to be able to see and travel to other places. Thanks to post like this one.

  • Samantha says:

    Wow those mountains are absolutely incredible! I would love to visit.

  • Emman Damian says:

    This is the first time I saw and heard about Uttarakhand – Munsiyari. It seems like a great place. What a great view!

  • anas says:

    wow i ddnot know this place existed! Thanks for sharing this list, i may have something new to add to my list. Cheers

  • Meki says:

    Wow – what a nice place! That photo of the mountain peaks with the sunrise as a background is just breath-taking! Will recommend this to my adventurous friends.

  • Deeppak Samuel says:

    I am glad I asked you to share the information on Munsiyari. Very well explained, to the point and the beautiful pics..definitely on my list for next visit..thank you.

  • Anay sharaj says:

    it’s so lovely to read this article
    I have just become a fan of your writing.
    thanks for sharing

  • Anosa Malanga says:

    It’s been so long since I trek and definitely love going back to travel. I will take note of this so I can consider going when everything goes back to normal. Indeed one for the books!

  • Ben says:

    Munsiyari is such a beatiful place! I could seriously spend days there just exploring and taking it all in. Very cool.

  • Gervin Khan says:

    Honestly, I have never heard of this place before but this is looks like a great destination for my next trip. Beautiful!

  • katrina m kroeplin says:

    omg those views are amazing! i would so love to visit someday

  • Heather says:

    You always share the most interesting places that I’ve never heard of! What a beautiful location!

  • Ivan M. Jose says:

    Those are wonderful sights to see in Munsiyari. I do miss going out on an adventure trip.

  • Marysa says:

    The scenery there is incredible! This would be a beautiful destination to explore.

  • Elise Ho says:

    The falls are my favorite. I just love all water elements. They make me feel so at peace.

  • Maria Azanha says:

    What an amazing place! I am definitely a mountain person so that would be a great place to explore with my camera!

  • khoingn | The Broad Life says:

    I haven’t had any idea about this place till reading it on your post. Thanks for sharing about the destination, seemed like a good one to check out!

  • Emman Damian says:

    This is the first time I heard about Munsiyari! Seems like a great place! Can’t wait to visit after the pandemic.

  • Arūnas says:

    Munsiyari is definitely for me as there are no shopping malls, no fancy restaurants, no large markets, and no five-star hotels. Absolutely amazing.

  • Ramya Pandey says:

    Munsiyar definitely looks like a must visit place. The woollen clothes which they sell at these outlets are generally very warm and of excellent quality. If ever I travel that side I would definitely pick them up. I believe up Uttakhand most of the places are for peace lovers, and not for those hectic kind of tourists, walking around. This is a nicely written article.

  • Linda (LD Holland) says:

    We are always looking for offbeat places to see when we travel. We have seen similar sleepy local spots with no tourists and loved them. So sounds like we would be up to visit Munsiyari. Although I do understand it may be hard to reach. Those outdoor vistas would certainly make it worth the trip.

  • Anosa Malanga says:

    I had to share this to my friend so we can plan our future travel here! People should really learn about this amazing place.

  • Nilakshi says:

    I have been to Uttarakhand before but have not heard about Muniyari, saving your page to get an idea of it when I visit next time.

  • Neely Moldovan says:

    Really looks like a cool place to visit! Would love to one day!

  • Melissa says:

    Munsiyari sounds like a lovely place to visit. Your photos are stunning! I have always wanted to visit the Himalayas. Watching the sunset from Panchachuli Peaks sounds like the perfect way to start the day! I always love finding offbeat places to visit to and avoiding all the crowds and Munsiyari sounds like a great alternative to some of the more populated areas!

  • Medha Verma says:

    I have never heard of Munsiyari but it sounds like a nature lovers paradise and the best part is that it’s so off-beat that it’s hard to reach and thus, not touristic or over-commercialized. That’s the perfect kind of getaway! The sunrise behind Panchachuli peaks looks awesome, I’m already in love with the place looking at your photos. So happy to learn about a new place I can explore when I next visit my family in Delhi.

  • Akshay Sawant says:

    Hi Archana Singh, I was so amazed after seeing this post and I would love to visit Uttarakhand next year. Thank you for sharing this amazing information with us.

  • Akshay Sawant says:

    Hi Archana Singh, Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India and I would love to visit there next year. Thank you & keep travelling.

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