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Munsyari, an attractive and scenic place in Uttar Pradesh known for high-altitude trekking and bird watching, is located in the Pithoragarh district. According to reports, the hill station is located at a height of more than 2200 meters above sea level, with snow-capped mountains serving as its backdrop. Despite having been designated a restricted area in the past, it is today a popular destination for hikers and trekkers.
The historical significance of Munsyari, also known as “Little Kashmir,” dates back to the time when the ancient Silk Road traveled through the Johar Valley, leaving Tibet and entering the Indian subcontinent. The path then follows the Gori Ganga river’s course until it arrives at the Milam Glacier, the river’s source.
This is one of the best-kept secrets of the Northern Himalayas as a bird-watching destination. Not many mainstream birders venture this far in search of birds – and who do are rewarded with Himalayan rarities of a lifetime like Snow Partridge, Cheer Pheasant, and a few others, in addition to sweeping views of the world’s tallest mountain range.
Location: Pithoragarh District, Uttarakhand, India
Nearest Airport: Delhi and Dehradun airport
How to reach: 15 hours drive from Delhi airport
Famous for: Himalayan Birdwatching
Best time to visit: November to March
WHAT TO SEE
Birds: Snow Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Snowy Browed Flycatcher, Red Headed Bullfinch, Bearded Vulture, White-Throated Tit, Grey Bellied Tesia, Robin Accentor, Golden Eagle, Eurasian Woodcock, Hill Partridge, Spotted Laughing Thrush, Rose Finch, Green-tailed Sunbird, Satyr Tragopan, Chestnut Crowned Warbler, Great Crested Tit, Great Throated Parrotbill, Black Throated Parrotbill, Pied Thrush, Fire Breasted Flycatcher, Himalayan Cutia
As was already noted, Munsyari is well known for its extensive network of treks, which range in difficulty from easy to challenging. The numerous jeep safaris offered here make it simple to get to surrounding well-known tourist locations including the Madkote, Baneanani, and Panchachuli peaks. A watershed between the Darmaganga and Gori valleys, Panchachuli is the most well-known of the three due to its tallest peak, which rises to a height of over 6900 meters. It is a collection of five hills, as the name would imply, that are claimed to look out upon the celestial “Land of the Gods.” Some of the other famous spots to visit include Nanda Devi Temple, Balanti Potato Farm, Darkot Village, Betulidhar, Kalamuni Kund, Thamri Kund, and Maheshwari Kund.
There are three major glaciers for which Munsiyari acts as a base camp- Milam, Ralam, and Namik. The latter is surrounded by other giant peaks like Nanda Devi, Nand Kot, and Trishul, and itself stands at a height of 3600m. Namik is where the Ram Ganga River originates from and is around forty km from the hill station.
Munsiyari’s high altitude also makes it an amazing place to bird watch, it’s height and proximity to the Himalayas make it an ideal home for birds like Koklass Pheasants, Laughing Thrushes, Finches, Ancestors, Cheer Pheasants, Monals, and more. Home to more than 300 species of birds, Munsiyari has been recognized as a Bird Rich Area by Birdlife International. Munsiyari showcases the picturesque and charming Himalayas with its beautiful mountains and rich birdlife, regular sightings include birds like Monals, Koklass Pheasants, Finches, Golden bush robins, Cheer Pheasants, Speckled Wood Pigeons, and a lot of more.
Key birding regions:
Almora to Munsiyari road: Along the route of this excursion, there are several birding locations that serve as homes for many species of birds, including thrushes at Chaukori and kingfishers and brown dippers at Kainchi Dham. It also has a sightseeing stop where you may take in the tranquility of the Birthi Falls.
Betuli Dhar Forest: Famous for Birdlife like Tits, Laughing thrushes, Woodpeckers, Warblers, and Wood Pigeons, the Betuli Dhar Forest is located at an altitude of approximately 2600 m. It is also primarily visited to spot the Monal, Finches, Koklaas, and Cheer Pheasants.
Sarmoli village: It is a popular place to spot the Himalayan pheasant and the laughing thrushes, along with several other species of birds.
Kalamuni top: Due to its high altitude, Kalamuni top is a great place to view the Finches, Redstarts, Monals, Accentors, Buntings, and Yuhinas.