Nestled in the dense oak forest, the Mesar Kund trek in Munsiyari makes for a great family trek. Munsiyari is located in the Greater Himalayan range in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand (India). This scenic little village enthralls you with its captivating view of the Panchachuli Range and salubrious climate.
Sarmoli is a quaint village perched on the slopes above Munsiyari. During our Village Home-stay in Sarmoli, we decided to go with our 9 and 11 year old on a small trek to Mesar Kund (or Maheshwari Kund or Meesar Kund as it is called in the local dialect).
Trek to the pond
A well-marked stone laid trail will lead you through the oak and Rhododendron trees to the Mesar Kund. This is an easy climb for those who are fit and a little ‘huffing and puffing’ climb for the not-so-fit. The Initial climb made the children little grumpy. However, they warmed up and climbed to the top at a reasonable speed ( 1 hour from Sarmoli).
There is a smaller pond before the Mesar Kund. It makes for a lovely place to freshen up or rest after the long climb. Mesar Kund is hardly 5 minutes walk from here.
The trail leads to the pond and open green meadows!
We lay down on the green grass of the meadow gazing up at the sky, looking at the clouds changing shapes, butterflies fluttering by, listening to the call of a Green Backed Tit at a distance.
When not chasing frogs and tadpoles, we did little birding and butterfly spotting at this place. We spotted Rufous Bellied Woodpecker, Red Billed Magpie, Yellow Billed Magpie, Black Drongo, Spotted Forktail, Black Bulbul, Black-headed Jay amongst others.
Consider carrying packed breakfast /lunch to have at the picturesque Mesar Kund.
Beware of the Leeches!
If you happen to be trekking in the monsoon season remember to tuck in your pants inside your socks. In case you end up becoming an involuntary blood donor to the blood-sucking leeches, immediately spray salt over them to get rid of them.
Rejuvenation of Mesar Kund
Not long ago, Mesar Kund was affected by hypertrophication (excess growth of plants and algae and biomass load). A nearby stream had changed its course and was no longer passing through the pond. This resulted in the growth of algae and plants in the pond water thereby shrinking the water surface of the pond significantly.
Around 2003 and 2009, under the Aegis of the Sarpanch (Council Chief) Ms Malika Virdi, Mesar Kund was rejuvenated by the Van Panchayat of Sarmoli. Volunteers from nearby villages, outside agencies, and Forest Department helped revive this beautiful forest pond and create an open-air creative arts stage.
Festivals at the Pond
This sacred forest pond is the venue for the annual Mesar Forest Fair or “Mesar wan koutik” as is called by the locals. The fair is held around the Budh Poornima (Full Moon) in the month of May. Around the same time, a festival by the local community called Himal Kalasutra is also held.
For those interested in mythology, this scenic pond has an interesting legend about it.
Yakshas were strange gnome-like fat, pot-bellied, dwarfish water-gods. They were creatures of the wilderness, to be found outside human settlements. Where there was water, there was wealth and so Yakshas were also believed to be the guardian of treasures.
Yakhas are very similar to the dwarves of the Viking mythology, goblins of Irish mythology and laughing Buddha image from Zen Buddhism.
Essentially they were earthly creatures, feared for their form, but worshipped under trees, next to waterfalls, or in caves, by people in the quest for fertility and wealth by offering food, clothing, incense, and lamps.
The Yaksha and a beautiful Maiden!
Interestingly, there are two Legends that we heard about this Kund (pond). Both the stories involve a Yaksha and a beautiful girl.
The one more popular on most of the blogs says that there was a Yaksha (protector of the pond and treasurer of wealth) who lived by Mesar pond and fell in love with the daughter of the Sarpanch (head of the Village). The villagers objected to this alliance and in order to teach the Yaksha a lesson, drained out the pond. Infuriated, the Yaksha cursed the village with a series of droughts. It was only after the villagers apologized and requested the Yaksha to bless them with rains, did he free the village from his curse. In the present time, this pond provides water to the entire village of Sarmoli.
One sided-Unrequited love
The other one which is more popular in Sarmoli goes like this. There was a Yaksha (protector of the pond and one who brings fertility) who fell in love with a village girl. He lured her into the Mesar pond with a lotus flower making her go farther and farther inside the pond. As fate would have it, the poor girl got stuck in the quicksand at the bottom of the pond. When her sister saw this, she ran back to the village to tell the others about what had happened at the pond. The enraged villagers went to the Yaksha and demanded the girl back.
Not willing to give the beautiful girl back, the Yaksha gave them another not-so-beautiful girl. The parents of the girl demanded their own beautiful daughter back. Infuriated, the Yaksha tossed the dead body of the girl onto the banks of the pond. Shocked and saddened, the villagers decided to drain off the pond. Yaksha realizing his mistake gave a beautiful baby girl to the parents but cursed the village that for every birth there will be a death. Even today, in order to appease the Yaksha, the villagers perform a special pooja in his honor.
Whether one believes in mythology or rationalizes it, either way, the moral of these stories is the need for conservation of natural resources.
Unfortunately, broken beer bottles, plastic pet bottles, packets of chips and biscuits were strewn around the area! The kids were disheartened by the mindless exploitation of nature by irresponsible tourists.
Going by the mantra of leaving the mountains cleaner and better than how you found it, the children did some cleaning on their way back home.
Mental Note:- I must remember to carry gloves for them next time!
We had carried Home-made snacks in plastic zip-locks which we carried back for reuse. I am still trying to figure out a lighter non-plastic alternative to carry home-made snacks! If you know of any better alternative, do remember to leave your suggestion in the comments.
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Have you been on such lovely family treks? We would love to hear about it in our comments section!