An Easy trek in Kumaon to Maheshwari Kund Munsyari
I no longer am much of a long distance hiker anymore, but I also try not to miss short hikes like I did in Spiti to Dhankar Lake. While Uttarakhand has many famed treks for you to go for like Valley of Flowers, Roopkund, Pindari Glacier etc., what I did was a simple climb to a sacred lake called Maheshwari Kund or Meesar Kund in the local dialect. The important thing to note here is that our ancestors knew the importance of water bodies like lakes and rivers hence they were given status of Gods and Goddesses as they provided sustaining water, unfortunately in the name of progress we seem to have forgotten that our ancestors worshiped rivers like Ganga and called her Ganga Maiya or the Mother Ganga. Before we begin let me tell you there seem to be many spellings of Munsyari like Munsiyari, Munsiari, and Uttarakhand Tourism has their own spelling Munsyuari. You can pick the one you like 🙂
So in this post let me take you to the little trek I did to Maheshwari Kund in Munsyari a little gem of a town at height of 2200 meters in Pithoragarh district in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand
Here bit of history cum mythology about Mehsar Kund also known as Meesar Kund or Maheshwari Kund is in order. So it seems there was a Yaksha ( A Yaksha is a kind of a non-Jungle spirit and are considered benevolent caretakers of forest resources specially water- e.g A Yaksha also appears in Mahabharata when he questions Yudhistara about Dharma ), who lived on this mountain top near Munsyari and he fell in love with a local lass. But the Munsyari version of Khap Panchayat of the village took strong objection to it. So the villagers decided to teach a lesson to the Yaksha and dried the lake where Yaksha Lived. This made the Yaksha angry and he cursed the village to go without rain. So the there were no rains for many year, thus the villagers went to the Yaksha and apologized so that the rains could return to the village.
Don’t you think there is a lesson in the legend? Once you destroy our natural resources like lakes and forests and play havoc with the rhythm of nature local communities will suffer.
Let us continue our little hike to the Meesar Kund from the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Hotel; we took our cars to the start point of the well-defined trail to Maheshwari Kund in Munsyari. From here one needs to steadily climb a trail that is made of a stone staircase in most places and is covered with a dense overgrowth of Rhododendron, wild roses, and many other Himalayan floras. We were a bit late in the season and there were no flowers on Rhododendron, but the wild roses made up for them. The thorny wild rose bushes were swaying mountain breeze, the creamy white flowers with yellowish anthers invited you to come close, but the huge thorns warned you to stay away. Finally, I reached a compromise of the Gods of the Roses and we both agreed that I can click many pictures of the wild roses in the Himalayas I want, as long as I do not pluck any flowers. I was fine with the arrangement and here is the result for you to see. The Wild roses I found in these ranges were white / cream in color, while at a lot of places you will find pink wild roses like I found in Spiti Valley during my trek to Dhankar Lake.
I normally use photography as an excuse for slow climbing, and I will give gyans to other, ” What kind of travelers are you, I am soaking in the place, enjoying every moment, I am not in a rush to reach anywhere so I am enjoying my hike“. But during my hike to Maheshwari Kund, I had some tough competition cum motivation. Mr. Maharaj Wahi, who is Chairman of Rudra Experiences, was throughout ahead of me and was clicking pictures regularly. So I had no reason to climb slowly, except I requested Mr. Wahi to pose for me.
As you climb towards the Maheshwari or Meesar Kund you come across a spot from where the fog coated town of Munsyari is visible. Needless to say, we took advantage of this vantage point and clicked some pictures of Munsyari below and the snow-capped peaks further in the horizon. But the peaks were all covered with clouds and we could not get clean pictures.
I continued by slow climb, taking slow steps on the fallen leaves covered steps, stopping to click wild flowers of Kumaon. Unfortunately, my botanical knowledge is a bit rusty as most of my botany books are getting dusty, so I will not be able to share names of most of these flowers. But I was not the only one interested in wild flowers of Himalayas, this little butterfly was equally keen to check the flowers and guided by path for a good 10 minutes by flying ahead of me, stopping intermittently to check some of the wild flowers for nectar.
Q: When was the last time a butterfly showed you a path? Or let me make it simple – When was the last time you chased a butterfly? Well ladies and gentlemen, I strongly recommend chasing butterflies, not to catch them but to see where she is going, for she will lead you to the path your heart desires. Give it a try. You can begin in Kumaon for Kumaon is home to countless species of butterflies.
One of the biggest surprises I got was on a turn in the path, there was a clearing on the side and I saw a Langur family chomping on leaves. They were so shell-shocked to see me that they did not even move even when I clicked their pictures and pointed the camera towards them. I am not sure if these Langurs or should I say Langurnees belonged to some Ninja clan, as you can see some strange stripes on their forehead. What do you think?
Every few steps we were greeted by bird songs, and a small stream whose sound we could hear but the stream itself was not visible as it was hidden somewhere in dense foliage. Only when were reached the peak and were crossing the meadow did we found the little stream that comes out of the Maheshwari Kund.
Finally, after climbing for about 45 minutes I reached a green meadow lined with Rhododendron trees on one side and rose bushes on the other, a meandering path crisscrosses the meadow and takes you to the calm Maheshwari Kund, that has turned green due to over growing algae and water plants in the calm waters.
We all settled down and for some time could not say a word, not because any one of us was tired but because the scene was totally serene and like picture postcards. We did some photography practice with Anurag Jetly of Dilli Time-lapse Video fame directing the show. Each one of us was to create a scene with all the hikers posing in the picture. Here is the picture I clicked on the bank of the Maheshwari Kund. I will introduce you to the hikers in the next post in the Road Trip to Kumaon Series.
We relaxed under the shades of huge trees surrounding the pond and it was then I heard a sound of some bells. And in true DDLJ tradition, some cows appeared out of nowhere and completed the magic of a Himalayan lake and meadow.
Here I was in Munsyari watching a herd of cows and singing to the bells ring as they moved around and people travel all the way to Europe to watch exactly this very scene.
As we started our journey back to the town, I saw a horse appearing on the horizon, while others continued their journey back, I decided to stay back and click the horse. But as they say, there is never a single horse in the meadow, another one appeared, then another one, and then some more.
While I was clicking the horses, one thing was clear, the horses and cows maintained a respectable distance from each other and never mingled with each other. But they kept a close eye on each other with this particular Mata jee being extremely cautious about not just a horse but even a photographer coming close to the cow herd that she appeared to be not just Mata jee but Grand Mata jee.
Wild flowers, invisible streams making noise, ninja langurs, cows ringing bells, a mystical lake and horses that let you click pictures and a view that is straight out of story books, all this we experienced on a trek from Munsyari to Maheshwari kund. The best part was it is an easy hike and did not take us more than 45 minutes to climb and reach the top from a well laid out trail.
If you are in Munsyari in Kumaon, I would suggest if you are in a mood of some hiking and breathtaking view, visit the Maheshwari Kund and you will come back with some beautiful memories.
This is the second post in Road Trip To Kumaon series, where I traveled with Rudra Experiences on a Himalayan Photo Odyssey in Kumaon. The month of October will see more of my posts about Kumaon. Watch this space for more of my Road Trip in Kumaon. In the mean time check this picture below that I clicked with my cellphone in panorama mode
Some tips for the Trek to Maheshwari Kund Munsyari: It is an easy trek and there is a well laid out trail, so just follow the same. Please carry enough water and snacks and there is nothing ( thank god for that ) available at the top. Please bring back all wrappers, bottles etc. that you carry. The path at places is slippery so be careful.
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