The gentle Himalayas of the Kumaon region are among the most
picturesque in the country. And hidden among these beauties are
breathtakingly adventurous trekking routes.
The modest beauty of regions such as Almora, Ranikhet and Kausani is reassuring and rejuvenating. Here giant terraces are flung down high mountains in green steps of cultivation, destroying neither the mountains nor its greenery.
Kumaon consists of the districts of Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh. The land of Jim Corbett's legendary exploits, it lies to the east of Garhwal from which it is separated by the eastern and southern flanks of Nandadevi sanctuary leading down along the valley of the Ramganga.
Whereas the Garhwals, abound in pilgrim centers and the mountains of the Ganga-Yamuna basin, Kumaon is wrapped in the scenic wonders of hill stations such as Nainital, Ranikhet and Kausani, treks through the verdant valleys of the Ramganga as it emerges from the environs of the Namik Glacier and the Goriganga which rises at the snout of the Milam glacier.
These rivers drain the eastern and southern flanks of the Nanda Devi sanctuary, merging finally with the main Gangetic system in the plains. At the head of the Pindari glacier is Pindari Kanda or Traills Pass named after the district collector of Almora who made a spectacular attempt up its slopes years ago while looking for a route into the inner sanctuary of Nanda Devi.
Till the opening of the regular motor road, trekkers and mountaineers bound for central Garhwal crossed the Kauri Pass, also Known as the Curzon Trail after the Viceroy's journey in that direction.
The Garhwal-Kumaon axis can also be traversed by a spectacular horse shoe trail originating at Malari in the Dhauliganga Valley near Kamet and going north and east along the rim of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary to emerge at Unta Dhura Pass near the Milam glacier.
The trekking and adventure season in Kumaon is prevalent all the year round with the traditionally popular periods being April-June and September-November. April-June, i.e, before the monsoon sets in, is the season of flowers while the second season is known for post-monsoon freshness.
The railhead for Kumaon is Kathgodam, on the main meter
gauge line from Lucknow, thus offering convenient connections to
Agra, Bareilly, Mumbai,
Delhi Calcutta and Madras. The airport for Kumaon is Pantnagar, 71 kms
from Nainital, 118 km from Ranikhet and 127 kms from Almora. The frequency
of flights are irregular.
From Kathgodam, regular bus services are provided by UP roadways and the Kumaon Motor Owners union to Nainital. Buses and Taxis are also available from Nanital for Kausani and southwards to the Terai towns of Haldwani, Pilibhit, Pantnagar and Tiger haven at Dudhwa.
The Glaciers :
Pindari Glacier (3820 m)
Kafni Glacier (3800 m)
Milam Glacier (4267 m)
Sunderdhunga Glacier (3806 m)
SOME TREKKING ROUTES :
Encircling the lake venerated after the Goddess of the same name, Naninital is the main hill resort in Kumaon. It has equable weather with the maximum and minimum temperature being 27 degree and 19 degree Celsius in summers and in winters, 15 degrees and even 0 degree.
1. Nainital (1938 m) - Snow View (2270 m) - Bhowali (1707 m) - Bhimtal - Naukuchiya Tal. The trail provides a grand stand view of the main peak of the Nanda Devi sanctuary, its eastern view and further right on to the pillars of the central Kumaon region. From the health resort at Bhowali,11.2 km from Naninital, the trail continues to the cluster of seven lakes at Sat Tal and the nine cornered Naukuchiya Tal. Forest Rest house and PWD bungalow available at Bhowali.
2. Nainital - Kilbury (2528 m) - Paogot - Binayak - Badhanthali - Kunjkharak. 10 km from Nanital, with a forest rest house, Kilbury is ideal for solitude. The trail continues along the Cheens peak range to Binayak and Kunjkharak through oak and deodar forests, facing the high range and abounding in bird life.
3. Nainital - Khurpatal (1750 m) - Kaladhungi (1700 m). Khurpatal, 5 km away is an anglers staging point carrying on to Corbett country in Kaladhungi.
Founded over 400 years ago Almora, with its numerous temples, is spread along a ridge from where the high mountains are seen.
Almora (1638 m) - Shitalakhet (1828 m) - Ranikhet (1829 m). This an arterial trek providing close ups of the high range. Forest rest house at Shitalakhet and good accommodation at Ranikhet which is also the headquarters of the famous Kumaon regiment.
1. Almora - Pandhar - Jalna - Lamgarh - Saharphatak - Mornaula. These are hill walks sure to be found attractive by those looking for the mystical allure of altitude which the Almora region provides.
2. Almora - Barechhina - Pannwanaula - Artola- Jageshwar. This is a temple trail highlighted by the main Jageshwar temple dating to 13 AD, its smaller edifices having been added by Chand dynasty. Forest Rest house at Jageshwar is best for night halts.
3. Almora - Kapharkhan -Biasar. Once again, closeness of the snow mountain is irresistible culminating on this trail 30 km from Almora at Biasar which has a forests rest house.
Long known for its tremendous panoramic delights of the high Himalayas, Ranikhet is located in the very heart of Kumaon at 1829 m.
1. Ranikhet - Majkhali - Gochhina - Kausani. Probably the best known route in this section, the long views from Kausani are a lifetime's experience. Accommodation at the forest rest house / PWD bungalow at Kausani.
2. Ranikhet - Gagas - Dwarhat - Dunagiri. Dwarhat, 38 km from Ranikhet, has eight clusters of temples and is historically important.
3. Ranikhet - Kalika - Majkhali - Kathpuriya - Sutalakhet, 35 km from Ranikhet, has a forest rest house. The trail once again offers sublime views.
Unrivalled for its location, Kausani is 40 km from Almora enabling an unforgettable look at a 350 km stretch of the high Himalayas. With its pine forests holding the cool mountain air this was Mahatma Gandhi's staging point in 1929. The Garur valley in the distance abounds in relics of the 12th and 13th centuries. Ideal for getting away to a heaven of tranquility and salubrious weather.
1. Kausani - Garur - Baijnath - Bageshwar
2. Kausani - Garur - Baijnath - Gwaldam
3. Kausani - Chhota Pinath - Bara Pinath
All the above trails which enable one to combine the religious aspect of Kumaon with its essentially invigorating mountain scape.
Chowkori is 112 km from Pithoragarh and is uniquely beautiful with balmy weather and fine views. The region includes the religious base such as Gangolighat, the confluence of the Gori and Kali rivers. At Lohaghat there are places of interest such as Abbot mount and Devidhura and Champawat.
1. Chowkori - Berinag - Patalbhuwaneshwar - Gangolighat
2. Chowkori - Kotbaniya - Dharmghat - Kotgari
3. Chowkori -That - Pithoragarh The three trek routes keep to a mean altitude of about 1900 m and are the jump off points for the high grounds of upper Kumaon with Pithoragarh being this route to the Lipulekh Pass on pilgrim trail.
At 1400 m Song is at the Bus terminus of the two routes branching towards the Pindari, Katri, Namih and Sundadhunga glaciers.
1. Song - Loharkhet - Dhakuri - Khati - Dwali - Phurkia - Pindari Glacier. The trail goes to Laharkhet, 1753 m, which has KMVN and PWD rest houses for accommodation. Onwards, this well known route goes past the staging points at Dhakuri (2680 m), Khati (2210 m), Dwali (2575 m) and Phurkia from where zero point view for Pindari glacier is 8 kms.
2. Song - Loharkhet - Dhakuri - Khati - Jautila - Dhungiyadhung - Sundardhunga Glacier. This route is same upto Dhakuri after which the trail continues to the fork at Kathalia above, the westward track leads to Nandkund and the eastward one to Maktoli, both approx. 7 km from Sundardhunga Glacier.
3. Song - Loharkhet - Dhakuri - Khati - Dwali - Katri Glacier. The route for the Katri Glacier is common up to Dwali on the Pindari route and then branches eastward to Byangar along the Katri Nala to the glacier of the same name.
At 2290 m, Munsiyari is on the arterial water body of the Gorigange which emerges from the Milam glacier system of the eastern flanks of the Nanda Devi sanctuary, fed also by the Kalabaland glacier and the Panchichullu from further east. the Milam glacier stands out at 3872 m is not only the objective of the trek route indicated but also the nodal point for a variety of high grade routes and peaks. Munsyari is also the base for Ralam, Namik and Poting glaciers.
Munsiyari - Lillam - Bogdyar - Milam Village - Milam glacier
Dharchula - Tawaghat - Khela - Chhipalakot lake