Name : Tomosha Bhattacharjee [On Oct 15, 2016]
State : UK
Title : Munsiyari Revisited
Furies of development has taken its toll on all spheres of life. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the crowning glory of India----- The resplendent Himalayas.
When I revisited Munsiyari this summer- May 2016, I obviously carried the impression of my last visit to Munsiyari way back in 1998--- that of a sleepy hamlet nestled among the velvety pines and the mesmerizing Panchachuli(a crown of five peaks)providing a balm for the sore eyes of tourists thronging this picturesque hill station. During my last visit I had put up in KMVN, which was then being renovated. KMVN was then designed in the British style with huge French windows. From my room I could watch the mountain shepherds herding down their flock of sheep to nearby pastures and then driving them back home again in the evening. This scene is indelibly etched in my memory, never to fade.
Alas there is a sea change in Munsiyari which is now like a small town with hotels a plenty. Situated on the banks of Gouri ganga river in the Pittoragarh District Munsiyari is still a popular haunt of tourists. During this visit I put up in a home stay named Snow View right near the market place in lower Munsiyari. The room allotted was spacious enough with a splendid view of the Panchachuli, the linen was freshly laundered and the owner and his wife were friendly and accommodating. The home cooked food served to us was never spicy as it happens when we put up in a hotel. The very evening we reached there was a torrential down pour which came as a welcome relief to the locals as for the last few days they were under the grip of forest fire that raged in the mountains of Kumaon. It is pretty warm in Musiyari during the day the temperature drops in the evening.
The next day we visited some tourists spots namely the Nanda Devi Temple, the road leading to the temple was slushy and the down pour had made it slushier. From the temple one can get a panoramic view of Munsiyari, the sereneness surrounding the temple has a nerve soothing effect. The next place of visit was the Kumaon heritage museum, single handedly and painstakingly maintained by Mr Ping whose keen interest in show casing the culture and tradition of Kumaon was obvious in the collection he had in his museum. The traditional clothes, ornaments worn by the locals and various other items of interest including the flora and fauna were displayed with utmost care. We then paid a visit to the local market where we found women weaving shawls of pashmina and rabbit wool, although I wanted to buy a shawl of rabbit wool, the price tag put me off. The Gaytri Devi temple is also worth visiting; the temple is well maintained and I was happy to note that the pujari of the temple was helping a few local children with their Hindi lessons.
Munsiyari is famous for its various trek routes especially the Khalia top trek and I did come across a number of young trekkers going on various treks. It is the base of Milam, Ralam and Namik Glacier which is the source of RamGanga river. In ancient times this place was the salt trade route from Tibet. It was inhabited by Shaukas tribe who were semi nomadic. Locals still do have some of the simplicity of mountain dewellers but modernization is fast catching up and together with it will come the complexities of modern life.
Author: Tomosha Bhattacharjee