Kumaon Diaries – I : Mukteshwar legends
“Eighteen miles to the North – North-East of Naini Tal is a hill eight thousand feet high and twelve to fifteen miles long, running east and west. The western end of the hill rises steeply and command one of the best views to be had anywhere of the Himalayan snowy range. This range, and all the hills that lie between it and the plains of India, run east and west, and from a commanding point on any of the hills an uninterrupted view can be obtained not only of the snows to the north but also of the hills and valleys to the east and to the west as far as eye can see. People who have lived at Muktesar claim that it is the most beautiful spot in Kumaon, and that its climate has no equal.
A tiger that thought as highly of the amenities of Muktesar as human beings did, took up her residence in the extensive forests adjoining the small settlement. Here she lived very happily on sambhar, kakar, and wild pig, until she had the misfortune to have an encounter with a porcupine…..”
– Jim Corbett from Temple Tigers
Thus, was born the legend of the man-eater of Mukteshwar, the place as it is known now gets its name from a 350-year-old temple of Shiva, known as Mukteshwar Dham, situated atop the highest point in the town, on the veterinary institute’s campus. Close to it lie the overhanging cliffs, locally known as Chauli-ki-Jali, used for rock climbing and rappelling, with an excellent view of the valleys below. The region retains the same beauty and charm albeit minus the man-eater thanks to Jim Corbett. Overlooking the snowy range comprising of magnificent Nanda Devi and unmistakably shaped Trishul peak among others.
A feast to the eye and of course the camera lens…