Uttarakhand, nestled in the lap of the magnificent Himalayas, is blessed with some of the most scenic and serene hill stations in India. While popular tourist places like Nainital, Mussoorie, and Rishikesh attract tourists in hordes, there are several unexplored and pristine hill stations tucked away in the state that remain off the conventional tourist trail.
These relatively unknown hill stations provide a peaceful getaway from the bustling crowds, allowing visitors to soak in the natural splendor and cultural heritage of Uttarakhand. From experiencing untamed wilderness and rich biodiversity to exploring ancient temples and quaint villages, the unexplored hill stations of Uttarakhand offer memorable travel experiences.
So if you’re looking for an offbeat holiday amidst verdant valleys, snow-capped mountains, and historic sites minus the tourist rush, the top 10 unexplored hill stations in Uttarakhand featured below make for great vacation choices.
Perched at an elevation of 2,010 meters in the Pithoragarh district, Chaukori is one of the lesser-known hill stations in Uttarakhand. Surrounded by tea estates and dense oak and rhododendron forests interspersed by stunning Himalayan peaks views, it makes for an ideal quiet destination to commune with nature.
The top attractions in Chaukori include:
- Chaukori Tea Garden – Sprawling tea estate perched on a hill slope offering magnificent mountain views. The subtle aroma of tea leaves and chirping birds make it a walker’s paradise.
- Arjuneshwar Shiva Temple – Ancient shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva set amidst deodar trees. Pilgrims believe the Pandavas visited this temple during their exile.
- Sadoli Park – Beautiful nature park with flowering gardens, pine trees and ponds that is perfect for a picnic. Visitors can also enjoy activities like boating and horse riding.
- Sunset Points – Various vantage points like Polo Ground and Nanda Kot around Chaukori to watch gorgeous golden hour Himalayan vistas.
The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam, which is 221 kilometers away. From Kathgodam one can hire taxis or take state transport buses to reach Chaukori, with Pantnagar Airport (119 kilometers) as the nearest airport. With its cool and pleasant climate, March to June and September to December is the best time to visit Chaukori.
Nestled atop the breast of mountains at an altitude of 2,298 meters lies the scenic hamlet of Munsiyari in the Pithoragarh district. Surrounded by mighty Himalayan peaks like Panchchuli, Rajrambha, and Nanda Kot, it serves as the gateway to some of the toughest and most stunning treks in the region.
Major attractions and activities offered in Munsiyari include:
- Panchachuli Base Camp – Starting point of the difficult Panchachuli glacier trek route passing through raw wilderness abundant with flora and fauna.
- Ralam Glacier – Another acclaimed trekking route from Munsiyari passing through moraine-filled terrain with spectacular glacier views.
- Munsiyari Temples – Ancient shrines like Nanda Devi, Muneshwar Mahadev, and Chamunda Devi temples dotting the hill town.
- Birthi Falls – Scenic waterfalls emerging from high mountains in the backdrop of Panchachuli peak vistas.
- Khaliya Top – Short 3 kilometers trek from Munsiyari town that rewards with a panoramic view of the Panchachuli range.
Munsiyari is connected by road to major hill stations like Almora (125 kilometers) and Pithoragarh (127 kilometers). The closest railway station is at Kathgodam (247 kilometers) while Pantnagar Airport (298 kilometers) is the nearest airport. Owing to extreme winters, the best time to visit Munsiyari is from March to November.
3. Patal Bhuvaneshwar
Snuggled deep inside a limestone cave in the Pithoragarh district is Patal Bhuvaneshwar, one of the most fascinating and unexplored places in Uttarakhand. Often called the cave of snakes, legend has it that Pandavas visited this underground cave temple during their exile days.
Key highlights of Patal Bhuvaneshwar include:
- Ancient cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with limestone formations of various Hindu deities inside.
- Sheshnag waterfall – a mesmerizing stream of water descending from the mouth of the statuesque snake on which Lord Shiva rests.
- The Shiv Linga – a unique, naturally formed stalagmite that waxes and wanes representing the lunar cycle. Pilgrims believe it represents the arrival of the gods.
Road connectivity is available from major towns like Gangolihat (14 kilometers) and Berinag (65 kilometers) with regular bus services to Patal Bhuvaneshwar. The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam (160 kilometers) away while the nearest Pantnagar Airport lies 125 kilometers from the cave shrine. One can visit this mystical cave temple from August to May, avoiding the monsoon season.
A pristine little hamlet tucked away in the peaceful valleys of Garhwal at a height of 1,700 meters, Khirsu is a nature lover’s paradise far removed from tourist rush and chaos. Encircled by dense oak and rhododendron deodar forests with magnificent 300 degrees Himalayan views in the horizon, it is increasingly emerging as an offbeat ecotourism destination in Uttarakhand.
Major attractions in Khirsu are:
- Apple orchards and apricot trees lining up the pastoral landscape.
- Konerak Jammu temple – an intricately carved 11th century shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga set amidst deodar cover.
- Viewpoints – Stunning sunset views of Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Panchchuli peaks visible from various vantage spots.
- Kandlendi Trek – Easy 3 kilometers trek into the woods passing through emerald valley views, pine trees, and fruits orchards.
Khirsu is approachable by road with the nearest railway head at Rishikesh (246 kilometers) away while the Dehradun airport (258 kilometers) is the nearest airport. Owing to its cool climes almost all through the year, it is suitable to visit Khirsu from March-June as well as September-December.
Perched at an elevation of 1,700 meters amidst dense pine forests in Chamoli district, the scenic town of Gwaldam is one of the offbeat places to visit in Uttarakhand. Surrounded by towering peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Chaukhamba, it serves as the base for many popular treks like the Roopkund Trek.
The top experiences in Gwaldam include:
- Gandhari Mata Temple – Stunning hilltop temple near the helipad treating visitors to sweeping Himalayan views.
- Neem Karoli Baba Ashram – Ram Dass ashram spread over 4 acres of verdant Himalayan landscape that emanates tranquility.
- Stunning Alpine Flowers – The valley near Gwaldam witnesses blooming of stunning flowers like Blue Poppy, Brahmakamal, Purple Primula and Orchids during summer.
- Trekking – Serving as starting point for acclaimed treks like Roopkund Trek, Bedni Bugyal Trek and Kuari Pass Trek.
Gwaldam is easily approachable by road, with the nearest railway station at Rishikesh (231 kilometers) away. The closest airport is Dehradun Airport (210 kilometers) away. Owing to its gentle summer climate, April to June and September to November are the ideal months to visit Gwaldam.
Snuggled amidst the wilderness of Nainital district at a height of 1,400 meters above sea level, Pangot is a quiet and rustic hill settlement just 13 kilometers away from Nainital city. Famed as an ideal destination for solitude and birdwatching, it is home to nearly 580 exotic bird species including Lammergeier and Himalayan Griffon that soar over its rich forests.
Major highlights of Pangot are:
- Extensive birdwatching opportunities – Garjia temple and Kilbury nature walk favored by twitchers to spot colorful and rare birds.
- Cheena Peak trekking trail – Moderate 6 kilometers trails passing through dense rhododendron forests with Himalayan views.
- Tea estates – Picturesque tea estates around Snow Viewpoint treating travelers with stunning sunrise and sunset views.
- Temples – Scattered ancient shrines like Kilbury temple and Surya Mandir set amidst verdant valley views.
Nainital (15 kilometers) is the nearest railhead. The closest airport is at Pantnagar (67 kilometers). The rich biodiversity coupled with fewer tourists and pleasant weather from September-November make it the best time to visit Pangot.
Nestled amidst thick pine forests at an altitude of 2,500 meters and just 12 kilometers away from Mussoorie lies the rustic village of Kanatal. Offering respite from chaotic hill towns, it charms visitors with its peaceful ambiance, adventure activities and astounding valley views.
Major attractions of Kanatal include:
- Surkanda Devi temple – Place of key religious importance providing a hike up to the peak and pleasant views of nearby mountain ranges.
- Kodia Jungle adventurecamp – Spot to enjoy rides on ATV quad bikes, ziplines, rock climbing, rappelling that is ideal for families and backpackers.
- Uttarakhand Paragliding site – Solveigh paragliding site considered among the best in Asia owing to its tremendous views and landing areas.
- Trekking Trails – Starting points for thrilling treks like the 12 kilometers trek through Rhodendron and Oak forests to Kodia Forest.
Kanatal has road connectivity with regular bus services from Dehradun (78 kilometers) and Haridwar (95 kilometers). The closest railway station lies at Dehradun (78 kilometers) away while Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun (88 kilometers) is the nearest airport. With a cool clime, Kanatal is suitable for visiting from March to June as well as September to December.
Nestled in the vibrant green valley by the gurgling Jata Ganga River at a height of 1870 meters, the temple town of Jageshwar houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This important Shaivite pilgrimage center dates back to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval era with over a hundred stone temples carved in the unique architectural style of the Katyuri kingdom.
Some of the top attractions in Jageshwar are:
- Jageshwar Monument Complex – Sprawling temple complex housing 124 ancient stone temples belonging to the 8th to 18th century showcasing medieval Himalayan architecture with splendid carvings of various Hindu deities.
- Dandeshwar Temple – Believed to be the oldest temple constructed in the 7th century and dedicated to the Hindu god of arts and wisdom, Dandeshwar.
- Surya Temple – Unique circular stone shrine constructed in the 15th century dedicated to the Sun god or Surya.
Jageshwar has good road connectivity with Almora town (34 kilometers) serving as the nearest railhead. The closest airport lies at Pantnagar (125 kilometers) away. Owing to the cool and pleasant summer months, March to June and September to November is the ideal time to explore Jageshwar.
Steeped in captivating mythology and history, Bajinath was an ancient capital to the Katyuri dynasty. It lies at an altitude of nearly 1,200 meters and houses a stunning temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva built in the 10th century along with ruins of forts and structures of great archaeological significance from medieval times.
Some major attractions in Bajinath are:
- Baijnath Temple – Intricately carved ancient shrine built in the Nagara style of architecture housing the revered 12 jyotirlingas. The carved panels and inscriptions provide an interesting glimpse into the Katyuri regime.
- Kailashanath Mahadev Temple – Historic stone temple constructed in the 11th century, containing several eye-catching stone images and idols of deities carved out of black stone popularly called Kasauti or Touchstone.
- Sher Singh Stadium – Vantage point offering lovely views of the verdant Tons river valley and magnificent Himalayan peaks.
Bajinath is easily accessible through roadways and located only 16 kilometers from the city of Guptakashi. The nearest railway station lies at Rishikesh (158 kilometers) away while Dehradun Airport (186 kilometers) is the closest airport. The best time to visit Bajinath is between May to June and September to November.
10. Kartik Swami Temple
Perched atop a hill dedicated to the warrior God Kartik Swami, brother of Lord Ganesha, this temple (3050 meters) is one of the most important ancient pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand dedicated to Lord Shiva and his divine son Kartik. Surrounded by rich orchards, dense forests and perennial springs it offers splendid views of snow-capped peaks of Bandarpunch range and the verdant valley of river Yamuna at its feet.
Major highlights of Kartik Swami Temple:
- Panoramic snow mountain views including Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Chaukhamba, and Kedarnath peaks on clear days.
- Sparkling glacial ponds and springs like Vyas kund near the temple.
- Bright Rhodendron flowers contrasting with tall cedar trees around the temple.
- Ancient stone idol of Kartik Swami modeled in accordance with his physical features described in religious scriptures.
Kartik Swami temple is only 22 kilometers from Rudraprayag which is well connected by road and railways networks. The nearest airport lies at Dehradun (195 kilometers) away. The period between May to October is perfect to visit Kartik Swami Temple owing to great weather and accessibility.
For jaw-dropping Himalayan views, make your way to Dhanachuli village in the Pithoragarh district. Perched at an altitude of 2,360 m, Dhanachuli offers picture-postcard vistas of peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Panchachuli.
Top things to in Dhanachuli:
- Watch the sunrise and sunset – For memorable views of the mountain peaks at golden hour.
- Birdwatching – Spot around 300 species like the lammergeier, monal pheasant, and many more.
- Village walk – Interact with the local villagers and get a taste of life in the Kumaon hills.
The nearest railhead is at Kathgodam, 125 km away. From there, take a taxi to reach Dhanachuli.
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Experience life in a traditional Kumaoni mountain village at Khati, nestled on the banks of the Pindari river in the Bageshwar district. Known for its unspoilt natural scenery, Khati offers invigorating mountain air and stunning views of the Panwali Dwar mountains.
Top experiences in Khati:
- Visit Maiktoli Glacier – Trek to see this impressive glacier at the base of Panwali Dwar.
- Try local cuisine – Sample authentic Kumaoni food like kafuli, dubuk, and baksa.
- Interact with villagers – Chat with the friendly locals and learn about their culture and lifestyle.
Khati is 110 km from Kathgodam. Take a taxi via Almora and Bageshwar to reach Khati.
Nestled amidst dense forests near Abbott Mount, Deenapani promises unmatched serenity. The highlight is its secluded location on the banks of river Kali, with the soothing sound of the rushing water adding to the tranquil ambience. It’s the perfect offbeat nature retreat for a digital detox.
Top experiences at Deenapani:
- Riverfront camping – Pitch a tent along the river for a peaceful night under the stars.
- Birdwatching – Spot colorful species like paradise flycatchers and scarlet finches.
- Nature walks – Follow jungle trails shaded by oak, pine, and rhododendron trees.
Deenapani is 100 km from Tanakpur railway station. You’ll need to trek 14 km from the road head to reach Deenapani.
Tucked away in the hills near Nainital lies Jhaltola, known for its unspoilt nature and peaceful environs. This quaint village charms with its deodar forests, apple orchards, and organic farms. The hiking trails winding through oak and rhododendron trees are truly rejuvenating.
Top things to do in Jhaltola:
- Nature walks & birdwatching – Wander through the wooded hills spotting colorful birds.
- Visit Jageshwar Mahadev temple – This revered temple lies 3 km uphill from the village center.
- Buy homemade products – Shop for organic honey, fruit preserves, and homemade cheeses.
Jhaltola is located just 20 km from Kathgodam railway station, so it’s easy to reach. Buses and taxis are available from Haldwani.
Tucked away in the Rudraprayag district, Chopta is an offbeat destination perfect for nature lovers. Surrounded by evergreen forest, Chopta charms visitors with its rich biodiversity and stunning views of Himalayan peaks.
Some key highlights of Chopta:
- Treks to Tungnath Temple – At 3680 m, it’s the highest Shiva temple in the world. The 3 km trek rewards you with a breathtaking summit viewpoint.
- Birdwatching – Spot over 200 species like the Himalayan monal, lammergeier, and crested kingfisher.
- Photogenic meadows – Fields of wildflowers backdropped by the Chaukhamba peak make Chopta a dream for photographers.
To reach Chopta, take a taxi from Rishikesh or Dehradun, both about 85 km away by road.
The top 10 unexplored hill stations of Uttarakhand listed above provide the perfect offbeat retreat to rejuvenate amid nature away from chaotic tourist places. With picture postcard Himalayan views, ancient heritage sites, adventure activities and abundant natural beauty – they exemplify the remote mountainous charm of the state in all its glory.
So take the road less taken to explore the hidden natural and spiritual gems tucked away in Uttarakhand that reward intrepid travelers with tranquil vistas and memorable local experiences in such breathtaking landscapes.
Uttarakhand has no dearth of offbeat spots beyond the well-worn tourist destinations. For nature lovers, adventure seekers, culture aficionados or solitude seekers – places like Chopta, Khirsu, Jhaltola, Munsiyari and more promise authentic experiences without the crowds.
When visiting the popular hill stations, it’s worth taking a few days to explore the state’s hidden corners. Traveling to these offbeat destinations in Uttarakhand allows you to discover the region’s natural and cultural riches in depth at your own pace.
So go ahead – veer off the tourist trail to uncover Uttarakhand’s secrets! The experiences you’ll gain at these relatively unexplored places are unparalleled.