Chaukori: A Dreamy Destination in India for Nature Lovers
Chaukori is one of those places in India that appears like an adorable picture from the calendar. Every nook and corner of the location is so picture perfect! In the middle of unspoiled nature, majestic Himalayan ranges, fruit orchards, foliage and dense forests of pine, oak and rhododendron, the idyllic hamlet of Chaukori, located at a height of 2,100 metres, is bestowed with nature’s bounty.
A less crowded hill station in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Chaukori is one of my favourite destinations in North India. As the name Chaukori suggests, it is like a bowl nestled in the heart of the hills and the Himalayas. Offering magnificent views of the snow-capped peaks of the western Himalayan range – Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli – such breathtaking proximity you can experience in only a few locations in the country.
I’ve visited Chaukori twice in two different seasons to witness diverse beauty of the locale. I want to visit it again during the other seasons as well. My first trip was during the first week of December 2015 (winter months are from November-February); the second trip was during the last week of September 2016 (just after the monsoons). Also, I took two different routes. On the December trip, I had driven to Chaukori via Binsar; on the September trip, I took the road via Shera Ghat. Both the routes are equally appealing!
Through both the routes, I reached Chaukori in the afternoon. It’s well known for one of the most beautiful sunrise and sunset views in the country. Given the time I reached, I had enough time to get prepared for the bewitching sunset. For my accommodation, I’d chosen KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) for both of my trips, as its exceptional location provides a face-to-face view of the majestic Himalayas. Also, there is a watchtower at one end of the rest house area which gives a view none offers.
However, the trips taken at a gap of one year, displayed some changes the hamlet has gone through. The number of hotels and accommodations has doubled; number of tourists has increased but thankfully, it is still not crowded even during the peak seasons (according to the data given by various hotel staff). KMVN resort now sports an orange colour instead of its previous green. The rooms, though always great, are now even more polished. The staffs are hospitable and courteous as always and so are the local people.
While there was time, I quickly had a walk around the adjacent area. I also had brief conversations with some local folks at a nearby tea stall. Interacting with local people always gives you knowledge and insight of the place way better than any travel books or operator can give you. Since it was my repeat visit, I was keen to explore even lesser known nearby attractions that I could not cover in my previous trip. Fortunately, I got to know about some new places.
Chaukori is unique in many ways. The serenity and simplicity that you find here amidst terrific nature is rare. During the winter months, bare trees with numerous birds cut a beautiful picture everywhere while during September-October, the entire location enjoys dainty blooms of various kinds of flowers. You can spend half of the day in the midst of flowers, bees and butterflies.
Sunset and Sunrise
As the sun begin to set, the astounding play of colour and light appears to cast a spell on you. I went up the watchtower to witness the incredible sight. A colour palette with varied hues ranging from crimson, scarlet, golden, purple, pink and more takes your breath away!
The evening in Chaukori sets in a different mood. The stillness gradually spreads a charm over the place. On clear days, the night sky opens runway for the galaxy to offer views that can turn you insane. Taking refuge in my super-deluxe room post evening, I sat in the balcony to absorb as much as I can.
The next morning, however, was somewhat cloudy on both of my trips. The sunrise experience was thus mediocre.
Apart from its natural beauty, Chaukori was once also popular for its lush tea gardens. The tea estates were established by the British during the pre-independence period. The aroma of tea that once blended in the pure air and breezed through the entire location, is now almost in ruins. Only a few tea estates survive today, but with a worn out glory. Suggested by some local folks, I went to Dharamghar to get a glimpse of the remaining tea gardens near Chaukori.
Returning to Chaukori in the evening, I once again got to watch the most beautiful sunset. I sat in the garden till it got dark and breezy. Next morning, my plan was to explore the nearby attractions.
Places to See Around Chaukori
Dharamghar: Passing by Kotmanya, driving to Dharamghar, 9 km from Chaukori, is similar to other hill stations. However, once reached, it’s absolutely different and gorgeous will blue hills, tea gardens, hamlets and the Himalayas. The Himdarshan Kutir established by Sarla Behn who was a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, offers splendid views of the Himalayan ranges.
Gangolihat: Located 35 km from Chaukori, this is an important religious centre for Hindus with the Hat-Kalika Temple. There are also many other temples that devotees visit. The scenic beauty is also great.
Patal Bhuvaneshwar: The famous spectacular caves of Patal Bhubaneshwar are located at a distance of 20 km from Chaukori. The rocks and stones inside the caves are in the shape and form of various Hindu gods and goddesses. Considered sacred as a pilgrimage centre for the devotees of Lord Shiva, the cave temple of Patal Bhuvaneshwar has its way through tunnels and caverns and dark passage of water.
Berinag: It offers spectacular panoramic views of the Himalayas. Situated 10 km away, this place is mainly memorable for its natural beauty and ancient snake temples. Tea gardens are also mesmerizing here that produces high-quality tea and are exported to other countries. The outskirts houses dense forestation and numerous streams that can be explored hiking.
Shera Ghat: A small hamlet in the lap of Kumaon hills, it is an unexplored hill station in Uttarakhand. With mighty views of the Himalayas, lush green mountains and the gorgeous mythic river Sarayu, Shera Ghat provides a close-up of the local life in the middle of extraordinary scenic beauty and serenity.
Binsar: Located 50 km from Chaukori, Binsar offers an exceptional wildlife experience surrounded with undulating hills and the Himalayas. It also offers amazing sunrise and sunset views. A huge variety of flora and fauna and a bewitching panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayan ranges make Binsar a popular but less crowded hill destination that runs on solar power.
Bageshwar: This holy town at the confluence of the sacred rivers of Sarayu and Gomti, is considered second to Kashi and Hardwar in religious importance. This Shaivite centre is also a good place to explore local life, beliefs and ways of life.
Didihat: It is a district town in Uttarakhand and is popular for its splendid views of nature and the Panchachulli range. Temples, Ashram and Ankot Sanctuary are other places of interest.
Pithoragarh: Known as the Kashmir of Uttarakhand, Pithoragarh is a beautiful hill town located 86 km from Chaukori.
Chaukori is an offbeat destination. If you are looking for a lot of adventure or activities, it may not be great for you. Chaukori is perfect for a laid-back, peaceful travel experience in the middle of nature. Enjoy hiking, photography and explore villages and local life.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is Pant Nagar Airport that is located about 227 km from Chaukori. It is well connected with flights from New Delhi.
By Rail: Kathgodam is the only nearest railway station that is 193 km from Chaukori. There are numerous trains available for this route connected with various cities across the country.
By Road: Chaukori is well connected by road with most cities of the northern part of India. There are several buses that run from Delhi to Chaukori, including Uttarakhand Stand Road Transport Corporation buses that depart from Anand Vihar ISBT. Buses are also available from Delhi to Bageshwar, Kausani and Nainital. Taxi or car services are also available aplenty.
Where to Stay in Chaukori
There are a plethora of private hotels, resorts, guesthouses and tourist lodges in Chaukori now. Also, KMVN Government rest house is also a convenient and popular staying option. Among private hotels, Ojaswi Resort is popular.
Best Time to Visit
The summer months of April, May and June is a good time to visit. The maximum temperature lies around 25°C and minimum temperature remains around 17°C. The moderate weather conditions during this time provides for a good time for exploring the place.
However, I vouch for the winters. October to February are the winter months. The temperatures are harshest during December-January. The average maximum temperature remains within 10°C and the minimum temperature ranges within 1°C. If the weather is clear, the views of the Himalayas are the best during this period.
Monsoons are not a favourable time to visit due to heavy downpour and calamities are common. So, avoid the monsoon months of July, August and September.