A photo journey to Shitlakhet, a hidden gem in Kumaon


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I had been hearing about Shitlakhet for almost ten years now, ever since I started visiting the Almora region more frequently. I even made some flying visits to the village, and had some incredibly tasty maggi. But never got an opportunity to stay overnight and explore the place until last month when I was there as the part of the Bloggers Bus of Uttarakhand Tourism. Although a one night stay is just not enough to do any justice to this place, but we tried to extract  as much experience as possible.

KMVN Tourist Rest House at Shitlakhet

Shitlakhet is certainly not a happening place. But I can bet, it is unimaginably beautiful. It is just a small village at the end of the mountain ridge. But it is full of adventure and it is certainly a photographers paradise. Hence, I though that it is better to talk about this place with some photographs.

The forest rest house at Shitlakhet, located just besides the KMVN TRH. This building was built in 1850 by the britishers, and is now used by the forest department. It has two suites. And you have to be lucky to find an accommodation here.

We stayed at Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) tourist rest house which is at the base of the hill on whose top Syahi or Siyahi Devi temple is located. She is a local deity and most revered here in the region. Most enjoyable activity at Shitlakhet is a morning trek to top of the hill. It might be around a four kilometre trek to the top, but it is worth every bit. On the way you experience the vividness of the nature here.

The Syahi Devi temple is located on the top of this hill, just behind those towers that can be seen in this photo

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An early monsoon morning throws the blue tones for a Forest Rest House built in 1850 in the foreground and fading lights of Almora in the background. Nature always has some hidden ideas that you are not aware of! At the Bloogers Bus 3.0 consecutively for four days we had an early wake up at 4.30 am in hope of catching some Himalayan views under clear skies, but what we invariably got to see was this! Still, nothing to complain as we had an altogether different view of nature… mesmerising still! Isn't it!! #Uttarakhand #UttarakhandTourism #Kumaon #KMVN #IncredibleIndia #BloggersBus #SimplyHeaven #UTDB #Sitalakhet #Shitalakhet #Almora #Himalayas #travel #travelstories #photography #photooftheday #picoftheday #Instapics #Traveldiaries #Sitlakhet

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Besides its amazing 200 degree Himalayan views, Sitlakhet is also famous for its orchards, landscapes, herbs, medicinal plants, as well as birds. The day we reached here was done away in planting some saplings to celebrate Harela festival. Since we had to leave the next morning after breakfast, only time we had in our hands was the early morning and we decided to have a short trek to explore the area. A small hike to the middle of the hill and all of a sudden, we got to see what we had been missing – the Himalayan views. And actually, we were lucky to have these views during the peak of monsoon. It was a small window when the sky got cleared and we were able to have a glimpse of majestic Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas. (Click on the thumbnails to have bigger look of the panorama.

First of the panoramic views from Shitlakhet
Second view with a closer look of peaks

The prominent peaks that we could see were Chaukhamba on the Garhwal side and Trishul, Nanda Devi and Panchachuli massif on the Kumaon side.

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Amazing morning view of Chaukhamba peak from Sitlakhet! One fascinating thing about Sitlakhet is its 360 degree view. You get that from the top of hill where the Syahi Devi temple is located. What you can see is a panaroma of Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas together. You hardly get to see that big a view range from any other place in either Garhwal or Kumaon! Still it is a destination hardly known to outsiders, although it is just a half hour away from Almora! Be there next time!! #Uttarakhand #UttarakhandTourism #Garhwal #GMVN #Kumaon #KMVN #BloggersBus #IncredibleIndia #photooftheday #photography #instapics #pictureoftheday #Himalayas #Shitlakhet #Sitlakhet #Sitalakhet #travel #travelstories #Chaukhamba #Simplyheaven #Almora

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Exploring Almora: A bougainvillea love story in Almora

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Another one of the fascinating views from Shitlakhet- the Panchachuli Massif. Personally for me, it was more satisfying as for the first time, I was capturing all five together in a frame. Panchachuli near Munsyari is a group of five peaks. Panchachuli-2 is the highest one (6904 mts), one whose peak is covered with clouds. This is also the highest peak in Kumaon region. Panchachuli-1 (6355 mts) is to its left and Panchachuli-3 (6312 mts), 4 (6334 mts) and 5 (6437 mts) are to the right of Panchachuli-2. Chuli in Nepalese means peaks. But legends also attach these five peaks to five Pandavas. Closer you move to Pithoragarh and then Munsyari, better the view of these five peaks will be. But Shitlakhet gives you the panaromic view of the ranges. #travelblog #photooftheday #photography #instapics #pictureoftheday #Uttarakhand #uttarakhandtourism #Kumaon #KMVN #travel #tourism #SimplyHeaven #BloggersBus #TravelStories #Himalayas #peaks #Panchachuli #Shitlakhet #Pandavas #Mahabharata #mythology #legend

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The trail to the temple takes you through dense pine forests. Morning hike is also best to have some good views of birds and some wild life as well. Best time also to have some good light for photography. Perfect for some nature walks. You can find scattered houses, orchards, camping sites and resorts spread out.

Most of the area is largely unexplored, and you hardly get to see any tourists here. It is quite rich in flora and fauna. Shitlakhet is said to have more than 115 species of birds. As is with hills in general, you can find here lots and lots of flowers- small and big.

Same flower in a different colour-

Sunflowers here are very big and beautiful

It is said that most part of the hill (it is many hundreds of acres land) is actually a private property which comes under Bora estate. This is owned by a Almora based family which inherited this property from its earlier generation who had purchase it from a britisher decades before independence. Tough to imagine that this whole part of the hill belongs to a single individual.

This is the cottage built during the British period, which was used as the owners of the Bora estate as their personal residence. This has got an old world charm but needs a lot of maintenance though.

More from Kumaon: Myth and mystery of the cave 90 feet deep

Its a fertile area, with favourable climate and very less amount of disturbance. Hence locals have been doing lots of experiments in livelihood including farming and small scale productions.

Mushroom farming at Shitlakhet
An essence extracting distillation unit inside a house to produce perfumes and essence.

With this place so serene, peaceful and away from the main course, it has got some exclusive places for stay. As, we mentioned that KMVN TRH and Forest rest house as well as some small hotels are there for budget stay close to village and the road head.  But up on the hill, some camping sites and high-end resorts are also available.

Ananta Rasa by Amritara at Shitlakhet

I had also often heard about an adventure camp run by Discovery here for many years. It is actually a Pine wood Cliff campus by Youreka.

Pine wood cliff by Youreka
Getting some knowledge under the Bodhi Tree

There are lot many treks, that can be done here. You also enjoy mountain biking and lot of other activities. This place has been popular for team building corporate activities.

More from Bloggers Bus 3.0: Whispering winds, hovering clouds and a ghost which wasn’t there.

How to reach

Beauty of this place is that although it is very close to tourist towns of Ranikhet and Almora, it is free of tourists. Ranikhet is 30 kms and Almora is 36 kms from here. You can reach here directly from Kathgodam via Ranikhet and Kathpudia. Or you can go to Almora and come here via Kosi bridge.

Read more: Kausani through flowers, a photo story!

When to go

September to March would be best time to go here. But one more thing, I still feel it is lot underrated as winter destination. It is breathtaking during winter snow. It could take away sheen of many of its famed neighbours for sure. I am going to write about it more in coming season.

Have you been to Shitlakhet? Pleas share your experiences in the comments section below.

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10 thoughts on “A photo journey to Shitlakhet, a hidden gem in Kumaon”

  1. Hey vagabond images, it is very nice and informative article and spreading word about the hidden ‘shitlakhet’, just reading through it, you have referred that you were part of ‘bloggers bus’, can you tell how to be a part of that bus? Thanks – Roshani (hopandhog)

    1. Hi Roshani, thanks for dropping by and giving your comment. Bloggers Bus was a campaign by Uttarakhand Tourism in which they selected a few travel bloggers across the country for an eight day road trip to different parts of the state. So, its they who select the bloggers to be part of it.

  2. I had been admiring Shitlakhet through your instagram posts Upendra. Uttarakhand is beautiful and your post lure’s me to plan a trip to Shitlakhet soon. Thanks for sharing. Govt/Tourist guest houses have wonderful locations …… only thing missing is their upkeep. Hopefully there is a change in it …..

    1. Thanks Monika. Shitlakhet is indeed wonderful. Although Shitlakhet has some very exotic resorts, but KMVN properties are well managed too and I bet some of their properties in Kumaon will actually change your perception about govt tourist rest houses, specially in this region. You might actually prefer a few of them over any private property or resort.

  3. Missed this fab opportunity 🙁 I saw all the places you guys went to and was so keen to go on this offbeat tour. But thanks to your post , I feel so good I saw the place! Have heard so much about Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) tourist rest houses and their picturesque locations! The views are simply spellbinding 🙂 Uttarakhand is indeed gorgeous 🙂

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