A view of the snow-clad Panchchuli mountain ranges as seen from Munsiyari in Pithoragarh district. Photo courtesy: Sanju Pant

Pithoragarh : 24 January, 2016

The journey of Himalayan town Munsiyari from a camp of the Shauka tribe in the Johar valley on the way of their annual migration to lower valleys during the winter and back during the summer to a favourite tourist town in Pithoragarh district has been an interesting one. After the ban on the border trade with Tibet in 1962, Shauka traders started settling in this camp village from their high Himalayan villages in the Johar valley to earn their livelihood.
“When we viewed the colourful play of the rising sun on the Panchchuli peaks, we found the solution to our problems. The awesome scene of these bright Himalayan peaks in the morning was an answer to our future needs of livelihood. The camp can be promoted as a Himalayan town and tourists can be invited to view the towering peaks and the magical play of the sun on these mountain ranges in the morning and in the evening,” says Sher Singh Pangti, who runs a tribal heritage museum in the valley.

Today, Munsiyari is the favourite destination of Bengali tourists. More than 25,000 tourists visit the town every year, including over 15,000 during autumn months alone. “The tourists from Bengal and parts of north India come to Munsiyari  to view the Panchchuli peaks. Tourists prefer to stay till the weather clears and the mighty mountain peaks are visible,” says Puran Pandey, a hotelier in Munsiyari. 

Munsiyari town situated at a height of 2,259 metre gets ready to welcome tourists from March 15 every year and the summer tourist season ends on June 15. “Over 8,000 tourists visit the town during the summer every year while over 15,000 Bengali tourists and trekkers visit Munsiyari during autumn months every year,” says Pandey. 

Tourists visiting the town prefer to go for trekking on some favourite routes such as Nana Devi and Milam tracks, especially during winter and autumn months. “Some more activities such as snow skiing, mountaineering and rock climbing are being started to attract tourists after the Nain Singh Institute of Mountaineering opened in the town this year,” says Devendra Singh Deva, a hotelier who also organises tourism and trekking activities.

“We need a regular supply of electricity, an urban body to cater to the sanitation problem of the town and all weather roads to Munsiyari as the main Munsiyari to Thal road remains blocked due to snowfall during the winter, affecting tourism,” says Pandey.

Pangti says tribal families, who have settled in Munsiyari town and are manufacturing traditional woollen carpets, need bigger markets for their produces as tourists have a limited capacity to purchase their items. “We need more tribal touch to the lodging and boarding facilities for tourists so that they could purchase local craft items to get a feel of the lifestyle and traditions of hill tribes,” says Pangti. The Tribune 

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