A Cloudy Affair – Monsoon in Himalayan Offbeat

Clouded skies bring hope for some;
The hope of rain, new life to come.
To lay and watch the clouds pass by,
They paint fresh pictures across the sky.
The nebulous figures soon disappear.
An azure canvas- so naked and clear.
The star comes out to shine anew.
Until a new painting comes into view.”
-Sharon Hughe

About:- This post describes my recent travel story to the offbeat Uttarakhand during Monsoon as well as the staying details and route of the journey. I’ve also enclosed a few quick pointers to keep in mind while traveling to these places.

Monsoon in the mountain – The dilemma

Most of the time, I avoid traveling to the mountain in monsoon due to the obvious reasons. And this time too, overwhelmed by all the news of floods and landslides broken down over the area, I opted out few more options other than a hill station for a long weekend getaway. But few of the insta feeds of rain-soaked Himalayas were enough to weaken my mind and change my decision two weeks before the traveling. The dilemma was over, and I was packing my backpack for a monsoon trip to Kumaon.

Nainital- What the Fuss!
An overnight bus journey from Delhi led me to Kathgodam around morning 8.30. The clear sky stirred a bit of disappointment in the middle of all the eagerness to witness the monsoon mountain. Mukteshwar homestay’s host Pooran singh was ready with his chariot at the bus stand to pick me up. According to the plan he would stop at Nainital for a couple of hours which is on the way to Mukteshwar itself. 
Nainital~ The city is gradually unveiling herself 
After half an hour, while gradually nearing towards Nainital, the sky started changing its color. It became darker and the soft clouds were obstructing our natural speed. After almost one and a half hours we reached Nainital which was almost invisible due to thick fog. 

Earlier, before visiting Nainital, I always wondered about the fuss regarding this place. The stories of the exaggerate boating experience seemed very childish to me and I failed to find any specialty of it in comparison to other Himalayan regions.
Bending over us, the clouds have the texture
of faces seen through smoke.
Thoughts in a confused mind look like that
Tell me again, that they are not hostile,
that they have come merely out of curiosity
to see again if we are possible..
~Stephen Dobyns
My opinion could have been unaltered if I visited the lake in clearer weather, but the monsoon season was planning something extraordinary for me. The lake was gradually unveiling herself behind the gulping cloud, as I slowly started walking down the sidewalk while the other side still remained a mystery! It was like walking through a black and white ancient movie scene, with those big trees and a still lake and suddenly some boats intervened to provide a perfect touch in the scene.
Nainital~ The Lake
Nearly spending about an hour and half I returned to the car to start my journey towards Mukteshwar.

The Journey:
It started raining heavily on the way to Mukteshwar. I didn’t even waste my time to capture that massive beauty in my mobile camera from a running car. Instead, I just sank into the view in front of me. The passing molten green through my flowing window, the cold breeze and the aroma of the moist soil altogether created a mesmerizing aura. The nearer mountain range was rain-soaked, dark green while the far ranges were still playing hide and seek with the clouds.

I heard about the isolation of location for any homestay but little did I know, that isolation means exactly in the lap of the mountain where there’s nothing but that home within a kilometer or two. Nearly after 2hrs or more (car speed was lower due to the rain) from Nainital, when Pooranji stopped his car saying that we’ve reached, there was a hut which was looking like anything but a home. A few minutes later, I found myself descending through the mountain belly amid rain forest, packed in a raincoat. After walking down for about 400mtrs, we reached to this beautiful home.
Home~ The home-stay at Sunkiya (Mukteshwar)
The most appealing factor about this homestay at Sunkiya lies in its simplicity. It’s a two-story building open to nature from everywhere. The first floor consists of two rooms for the travelers’ stay along with a broad balcony with sitting arrangements. The rooms are equipped with bed and cupboards. The absence of any extravagance radiates a homely vibe from every corner of this home. I sat in the balcony with a cup of strong ginger tea as long as I could doing nothing but gazing towards the green vast in front of me. 
Rain soaked Himalaya from Pooran Singh’s Abode
Afterward, I went for a small walk. I hiked to the main road and started walking forward, keeping the mountain both on my sides. The only sound was the birds’ chirp. After a few minutes of walk, found a hut serving hot jalebi and chaaye (tea). I took a glass of tea and a few jalebis and sat at the edge of the road facing towards the downhill forest. While interacting with the locals, again realized about their tough yet simpler lifestyle in a rural mountain and like most of the time, they misinterpreted any urban human as super-rich and asked if I would be interested to buy some land over there. The serenity was too addictive to leave behind. But it was getting dark, and so I started towards home.

The lit up mountain
Rest of the time, I spent in the balcony watching the lit-up mountains far away and finally had a homemade dinner. I went to sleep a bit early that night as the next day would be a long one.

Oh Chaukori!-You stole my heart
We started for Chaoukori on next morning around 8. It would be nearly 6hours of the journey. 
On the way to Chaukori from Mukteshwar
The journey towards Chakouri was so picturesque with several iron bridges in between over the streams amidst the mighty range. Around 2.30 in the afternoon we reached at the venue after puzzling around for quite some time as again the homestay was not really near the main road and I had no idea that more surprise was awaiting.
Homestay at Berinag (Chaukori)
After hiking for 10mins or so towards the uphill, we reached to this homestay at Berinag, which is more of a typical humble wooden village house with basic amenities. Like most of the Indian village household, it has a cow firm and provisions of growing vegetables. The huge drawing
room has fewer seating arrangements with windows exposing towards the mountain view and the dining arrangement is in a mud hut, where the host is residing with his parents. The culinary is as simple as a typical Uttarakhand homemade local food which was served with herbal tea. Sitting on the floor mat, food served by the old aunty with so much love and affection reminded me nothing but home. 
Cozy drawing room of Chaukori Homestay
After lunch I was up for my favorite work while traveling, that is to explore the place by walking.
Chaukori~ A less known paradise
Chaukori is a small village in the lap of the Kumaon Himalayan and once was famous for its tea garden. Unfortunately, most of the tea gardens now are left abandoned with no sign of tea trees and new constructions have been started to build up in some of them. Still, Chaukori is unique in its way. It’s still not that popular among the hill hunters, and so somehow it manages to preserve the natural beauty quietly and serenely. The population of locals as well as the tourists are less. There were very fewer urbanizations like fancy cafes or bars and you can easily get lost in the mountain forest full of colorful flowers. The hazy sunset behind the ribbon up a cloud on the far mountains is a treat to eyes.
Chaukori sky at the verge of Sunset
On next morning, we drove to the Kathgodam railway station to catch my return train to Delhi. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to mountains, but still, I had a gallery full of images and a mind full of pleasant memories to cherish until I get back to this beautiful place again.

Not a luxury is the new luxury:
While travelling solo I always try to keep it as basic as possible and I always believe that travel is not only about the places but about the people and its culture. To dive deep into the root of any place living like local is essential and it provides such discoveries about the place as well as about own self which is infinite. So not having a luxury, fancy trip is also a kind of a fulfillment.  
Route to this trip: I’ve done the above trip in 2 nights 3 days from Delhi to Delhi and spent around 12k. Took an overnight AC Sleeper bus to Kathgodam and from there, the entire route is done by pre-rented car. Again, returned to Delhi by train from Kathgodam. You can take some other routes as well, but this seems most convenient for me. Both time and budget-wise.
Staying Details: As mentioned, in both of the cases I preferred to stay at homestays instead of staying in a hotel. Both of them are a bit far from the main town. So I haven’t stayed at proper Mukteshwar or Chaoukori.


Booked these two beautiful homestays from https://www.homestaysofindia.com/. The car for the entire journey was rented from the owner of the Mukteshwar homestay.
Quick Pointers: 


Here’re some quick pointers about this trip and a few suggestions.


  • Some places in between the main destinations are extremely flood prone and most of the Uttarakhand is. So, travel carefully and take wise decisions while you’re traveling to the Himalayas during Monsoon.
  • The journey from Mukteshwar to Chaoukori is a long one that takes most of the time of the day. So, it’s better to spend a minimum of two nights in this place as it is worthy to stay.
  • The homestays are run by the village locals, so expecting extravagant luxury is impractical.
  • The homestays are in remote places, so it’s better to carry your basic needs with you as there would be no nearby shops.