My daughter’s 10th Board exams had just got over. While she was flying off to Goa with friends for a holiday to de-stress, my husband and I decided to go to Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand to relax after the taxing last few months. What better way to de-stress and de-clutter your mind than by exploring new places and in the process discovering yourself and addressing the issues and conflicts running in your mind.
Hill stations provide a short welcome change from the dull and daily routine of town and city life. The Easter weekend gave us, a group of six the perfect opportunity to go to Mukteshwar. After a long yet comfortable drive of 10 hours through orchards and coniferous forests, we checked in to Mystic Lodge Mukteshwar.
The scenic view from the property was mind blowing. All the rooms face east and provide a beautiful view of the sunrise. The property was actually bought with the intention of turning it into a private summer house but the owner turned it into a lodge with only six rooms. It has all the basic modern amenities, home cooked food to die for, tea, coffee on the house – what more could one ask for? The colourful lodge with its different species of flowers and snow-capped mountains in the front left me mesmerised. The rising sun that turns the sky orange is a feast for the eyes – truly God’s hand in illuminating the earth. Add to this the wonderful hospitality of Manju Aunty, her son Vivek and the staff.
We woke up to a beautiful sunrise the next day, walked down the trail enjoying the natural and lush beauty of the hills. The cool breeze blowing around us gave us a feeling of being in paradise. After a sumptuous breakfast of Parsi eggs and garlic paranthas we again went for a stroll. We stopped at a local café called Chandi mati serving local rhododendron tea and a chef’s special mango soufflé in golgappas. We just loved the fusion. The evening was quite cold with the temperature dipping to 7degree, but steaming hot soup, old Hindi songs around the bonfire, just made the night special.
The next day, after the sunrise and a satisfying south Indian breakfast we decided to go on a short trek along a dry stream to Bhalu Gaad waterfalls. This place is 14 km downhill from Mukteshwar. Irrespective of the fact that there was very little water, it’s still a lovely waterfall with a small pond. One can even bathe in it. The trek is a bit difficult but what you see at the end is quiet, pristine and amazing. The water is ice cold and very clear. One of our friends in the group, a hard core mountaineer guided and motivated us throughout saying, “The most effective way to do it is to do it.”
On the third day, after a lazy day enjoying pizzas at Nirvana Organic Kitchen, we witnessed the most stunning sunset at Chauli ki Jali behind the Mukteshwar Temple cliff. Lord Shiva is the residing deity in this 350-year-old temple. You have to climb 90 stone steps to reach the temple. Mukteshwar town owes its name to this temple.
The icing on the cake was when on our drive back through the coniferous forest of Sitla we sighted a young leopard in the dark forest. I think it will be one of my most enduring memories of this trip. It was such a quick and short sighting that in our shock of seeing the magnificent animal we forgot to take a photograph. But, what a grand finale it was to a rejuvenating holiday!