Mukteshwar is a town and tourist destination in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. It sits high in the Kumaon Hills at an altitude of 2286 meters (7500 feet), 51 km from Nainital, 72 km from Haldwani, and 395 km from Delhi.
Mukteshwar gets its name from an 350-year-old temple to 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 sunrise point is at the government-run PWD guest house. One can also visit the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI). Mukteshwar is the abode of a saint — Shri Mukteshwar Maharaj ji — who lived at the Top Cottage Temple where his samadhi is. One of his disciples, Swami Sanshudhanand ji, now stays there. The whole temple complex is a Tapovan and an ideal place for meditation.
IVRI hostels and the PWD rest house were the prominent shelters for ages. Now, Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) operates a tourist rest house (can be booked from Delhi as well as on phone/wireless from other KMVN guest houses). Several other hotels, resorts, guest houses and seasonal tent/hut-based camps come up. Valley Unwind Resort is one of the best for eco-tour activities around the valley. Nice scenery can be viewed from Chaulli ki Jaali, where rocks jut out from the hill face at a bizarre angle. This is a great place to observe eagles and other feathered scavengers as they swoop down at their prey.
The IVRI laboratories (experiments on tiny rats, gold-plated books, cattle-sheds), 16 mile x 14 mile wide deodar forest, 22 pristine snow-peak views, and the adventure of living among wildlife like tigers and bears are some of the major attractions of this sleepy town. The charm of visiting Mukteshwar lies in enjoying nature, listening to air gushing through deodar forests, bird watching, meditation, and seeking peace. The cleanliness, solitude and nature can bore people who like urban excitement.
Until 1893 the place was known for its shrines and temple before it was selected for serum production to protect animals from cattle plague. On the recommendation of the Cattle Plague Commission, the Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory had its genesis on December 9, 1889 at Pune and relocated to Mukteshwar in 1893 to facilitate segregation and quarantine of highly contagious organisms. Initially the laboratory at Mukteshwar was completed in 1898 but destroyed by fire in 1899. It was resurrected in 1901. Then annual expenditure on research was Rs. 50,000. Later it was developed into the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), which later moved its headquarters to Izatnagar. Still Mukteshwar serves as the hill campus of IVRI, including facilities such as an experimental goat farm.
The noted Nobel winner scientist Robert Koch visited this place on request of the government of India. The microscope used by him and other historical articles are kept in the museum maintained by IVRI. Hill carved cold room in 1900 is a place of attraction for visitors. It was made to store biological materials then. Mukteshwar, a view of the Himalayas.
Famous saviour of horror-stricken people from man-eating tigers and writer Jim Corbett visited Mukteshwar. He wrote of Mukteshwar in Man-Eaters of Kumaon. Corbett wrote befitting and thrilling accounst of his experiences in the jungle. His books can be freely downloaded online.
Mukteshwar is located at . It has an average elevation of 2,171 metres (7,123 feet).
Mukteshwar is rich in scenic beauty, with magnificent views of the Indian Himalayas including India's second-highest peak, Nanda Devi.
Because of the hilly topography, agriculture in the area consists chiefly of potato fields and fruit orchards on terraces cut into the hillsides.
Kumaon Vani radio service
With the aim to create a common platform for local communities of Supi in Uttarakhand, TERI launched 'Kumaon Vani', a community radio service on March 11, 2010. Uttarakhand governor Margaret Alva inaugurated the radio station, the first in the state. The 'Kumaon Vani' aims to air programmes on environment, agriculture, culture, weather and education in the local language and with the active participation of the communities. The station covers a radius of 10 km reaching out to almost 2000 locals around Mukteshwar.
There is a 'Renewable Park' developed by TERI. The renewable park uses solar electricity for most of its electricity needs. Recently, the town has experienced some construction activity and townships have begun to mushroom in and around Mukteshwar. Many people are buying holiday homes here to escape large chaotic cities.
The nearest airport is at Pantnagar and the nearest railway head is at Kathgodam, 65 km from the town, from where vehicular transport is easily available from neighbouring towns of Bhimtal, Bhowali, and Nainital.