Quintessentially Beautiful Chaukori: A Jewel in Uttarakhand

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Chaukori is at a height of 1976 meters or 6482 feet with magnificent snow-capped views of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchachauli. The mountain range is spread wherever your eyes go. Tea in the Himalayas with tea gardens in the vicinity is such an experience which you will never forget. There were many tea gardens around to be explored on feet and there we spotted a giant mushroom. The panoramic view of the mountains and valley and the sunset gave the feeling as if paradise has come alive on earth.  There were some locals whom we befriended on our way, they told us how much they love the place. Travel with Archana in the beauteous Himalayas. She reveals interesting facets of the getaway, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Uttarakhand stands apart from the other mountainous regions of the world in terms of its unparalleled beauty and presence of divine power all around. Some 98Km from Munsiyari lies another jewel comfortably ensconced in form of a bowl surrounded by towering Himalayan ranges. We chose to drive and revel in the beautiful sunrise and sunshine for which this place is famous for. We started around 9am from Munsiyari after a light breakfast of tea and toast, as am well aware of the ravage raged on stomach during the drive in hills. An empty stomach also has to be avoided.

The breath taking views held us all spellbound, we kept halting every now and then to capture the beauty that was around. The overwhelming desire is to soak in as much as possible through eyes and absorb it within. How much silent I go when am deep in the embrace of nature, as it overpowers everything. Frequent sightings of Himalayan lizards, exotic birds, flora and fauna are just outstanding.

This place is ideal for bird sightings. The best part of the stay in hills is that you wake up to the dawn chorus of birds. Each one striking a different note yet a sense of harmony prevails. We saw various kinds of birds, Blue Magpie, Woodpeckers, and Black Throated Tits. I often lament the lack of my knowledge on birds as this place is a birds’ paradise. I can’t identify all of them. The Valley was set aflame with red Rhododendrons.

Road condition from Munsiyari to Chaukori isn’t very good and rains add to the woes. One has to be extremely careful while driving as I saw a car overturn in front of us. The roads become narrow allowing only a single vehicle to pass. But for travel enthusiasts, every journey is a revelation.

Chaukori is at a height of 1976 meters or 6482 feet with magnificent snow-capped views of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchachauli. Kuman Mandal Vikas Nigam Hotel is an ideal choice for a stay because of the magnificent unhindered Himalayan views. The mountain range is spread wherever your eyes go. There were many children climbing the watch-tower for a better view but I chose against it as it was shaking. Tea in the Himalayas with tea gardens in the vicinity is such an experience which you will never forget. There were many tea gardens around to be explored on feet and there we spotted a giant mushroom.

Walk around the area sent a canine guide to our help fondly called as Dabbu. He took us to a small temple of the Local goddess and kept waiting to take us back also.

The panoramic view of the mountains and valley and the sunset gave the feeling as if paradise has come alive on earth.  There we're some locals whom we befriended on our way, they told us how much they love the place. The curious concept of distance again made a comeback when a lady in the group said, “Wo raha hamara gaon uss pahadi ke pechche” (There is my village behind that hill).

The sky was meddling with different shades of evening, the vast canvas had myriad hues. Dabbu dropped us near the hotel and went back to his house.

We strolled on the road checking the local eateries and gorged on delicious chicken cutlets. The food prepared at all the joints is fresh and it’s better to order in advance. Night crept in soon with the chill in the air. We made a retreat to the hotel. We sat on the balcony for a tell-tale with the night sky. I recalled few lines from one of Gulzaar’s poems, heightening the beauty of night:

कसैली रात के हाथों पे रख दी, चाँद की मिश्री

ये दिन रूठा हुआ था, धूल में लिपटा हुआ कब से

तिरे आचँल से पोंछकर ,बहला लिया उसको

मै अपने ही गले से लग गया ,नाराज था खुद से

तिरे ग़म का नमक चख़ कर

बड़ी मीठी लगी हैं जिंदगी  ‘जानम’

रात पशमीने की

Sleep took over soon and we all slept like logs.

Another morning awaited with a beautiful sunrise. Chaukori is really an idyllic place just to sit, watch the mighty peaks, venture into fruit orchards, sip tea with pakoras and forget everything. Soon the kids disappeared with the mountain bikes available at the reception. When an hour slipped away I was worried and went looking for them. They had a jolly good time cycling around. They pestered us to go to Musk Deer Park which is 3kms from the hotel. The park houses deer in cage, which was a big disappointment. Hiking in the park is good and soon you are famished. We came back to the hotel had a sumptuous lunch and slept again.

There are many places around like Bering, Tripura Devi Temple at Uttarayan and the famous Patal Bhuvaneshwar Temple. But we wanted to just sit and relax and kept these places on our list for next visit.

Ideal time to visit: May to November

Road Distance from Chaukori to Delhi: 480km

Distance from Munsiyari to Chaukori: 98km

Places to stay: KMVN Guest house, various resorts, and home stay options.

Places of interest: Tea Gardens, Fruit Orchards, Musk Deer Park, Patal Bhuvaneshwar Temple

©Archana Sharma

Photos by the author.

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Archana’s resume speaks of a career in HR, armed with a Management Degree, and a career which spanned for more than 15 years. Now, she is following her heart’s pursuit on a journey from being a writer in closet to a published writer. Publications include articles in leading national newspapers and online blogs. An avid traveller seeking refuge and solace amidst Himalayan magnificence and sublimity.