Pithoragarh is a district head settled at the edge of Kumaon region making it a border town situated in the eastern-most district of Uttarakhand, surrounded by Nepal in the east, and Tibet in the north. Pithoragarh is popular for its exquisite natural Beauty and is widely known as ‘Little Kashmir’. Pithoragarh is nestled at an altitude of 1650 meters and is like a small valley which is about 05 km long and 02 km wide. Pithoragarh is a border district of Uttarakhand guarded by Himalayan ranges and lies in the centre of four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar, and stretches in the southern flank to Jhulaghat demarcated by the Kali River adjoining the barren peaks of Nepal Hills. Pithoragarh is locally known as Shora Ghati. The first view of Pithoragarh is striking, in one instant, as on reaching the top of the pass (Chandak) which overlooks it, a wide valley bursts on the view, with the small neat military cantonment, fort and scattecyan villages, and meandering streams, which distribute fertility to thousands of well cultivated fields. Earlier Pithoragarh was a trading circuit between India and Tibet. Pithoragarh is locally known as ‘Sora Ghati’. Chandak hills located around 09 km from the main town of Pithoragarh offers stunning view of both sunrise and sunset which are lifetime experiences. The temple of Mostamuni located on the Chandak hill is a must visit tourist spot around Pithoragarh. The temple periphery offers panoramic view of the Pithoragarh town. Pithoragarh lies in the centre of the western half of the Soar Valley which resembles the Kashmir valley on a miniature scale. Pithoragarh is snuggled in the folds of four kots Bhatkot, Dungerkot, Udaikot and Unchakot. Pithoragarh, is known as the gateway to the Himalayas from the north, as pilgrims trek through this town to the Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, and Om Parvat.
Local watchable around Pithoragarh
Pithoragarh Fort: The Pithoragarh Fort is one of the major tourists attraction built during 18th century by the Gorkhas in the year 1789 and is locally named as Bauli Garh. Pithoragarh Fort is set atop a hill on the outskirts of the town. The architectural style of Pithoragarh fort attracts every tourist. Presently many government offices are located inside Pithoragarh fort.
Dhwaj Temple: Dhwaj is a sacred temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Maa Jayanti. Dhwaj Temple is perched at an elevation of 2100 meters and is located around 26 km from Pithoragarh. In order to reach Dhwaj temple from Pithoragarh tourists can avail the first 21 km route by car but the last 05 km tourists need to trek the route. The view of the legendary Himalayas are astonishing and awe inspiring from Dhwaj Temple and is a safe haven for snow leopards and Himalayan black bears.
Kapileshwar Mahadev: Kapileshwar Mahadev is a sacred shrine situated at a short distance of 03 km from Pithoragarh. Kapileshwar Mahadev is a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and it affords fine view of the Soar valley and lofty Himalayan peaks.
Maharaj Ke Park: Around 04 km from Pithoragarh is Maharaja Ke Park which was built by Indian Military of the Kumaon Regiment in the memory of soldiers died in Kashmir War and the park periphery offers lovely view of the surroundings, mainly small peaks covered with grasses and bushes having almost no trees, it is a lofty park with adequate area and a small canteen. Inside the park there are cenotaphs of the armies, a garden and a zoo. Many visitors from Pithoragarh and surrounding places visit this park for holidays like New Year parties and others.
Rai Gompha: Rai Gompha is a miniature preserve of the Patalbhubaneshwar cave. There are around 30 staircases by which tourists and visitors get inside the cave temple of Lord Someshwar Mahadev.
Kamakhya Devi Temple: Another beautiful site, temple of Kamakhya Devi, situated at the top of small hills near the town. It also offers a majestic view of surrounding valley and a peaceful place for one to leave the worldly up-downs for moment. Kamakhya Devi Temple is located around 07 km north – east of Pithoragarh. The temple of Kamakhya Devi was built by Madan Sharma and his family.
Chandak: Chandak is situated at a distance of 08 km from Pithoragarh and affords splendid views of the gigantic Himalayan ranges. The beautiful hill affords a fine view of the Himalayas elevated at 6500 ft. The Manu Temple here is highly revered by the locales. Near the Chandak Hills there is temple of Chandi Devi constructed by Mostamuni.
Ashurchula: Asurchula temple is one of the highest located shrines of Lord Shiva in Pithoragarh district of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The temple of Asurchula is set atop on the highest point of ‘Ghunsera Caves’. The scenic sanctuary is located around 20 km from Pithoragarh nestles at a height of 7250 ft. The sanctuary was constructed by Khol Leaders of Kartikeyapura. Kartikeyapura is the first name of Joshimath.
Thal Kedar: This Shaivite pilgrim site of Thal Kedar is known for its scenic splendor nestled at an elevation of about 8220 ft. and is located around 16 km away from Pithoragarh. Every year an annual fair of Shivratri is held here where large numbers of devotees flock to Thal Kedar. Among the trek routes those emerged from Pithoragarh city are Aincholi or Nakuleshwara temple along with the sacred place of Thal Kedar of Kumaon region. Thal Kedar is mainly known for an age old Shiv temple which is worth visiting.
Nakuleshwar Temple: Nakuleshwara Temple is a well-known religious site situated near village Shilling. Nakuleshwar Temple is believed to be built by Nakul and Sahdev (two brothers of Pandavas) and the temple is located around 04 km away from Pithoragarh main town and 02 km away from Shilling village. The architectural style of Nakuleshwar Temple resembles to that of Khajuraho architecture and it attracts numerous tourists and historians from all around the globe. There are 38 images of Hindu Gods and Goddess which are made of stones.
Chaukori: Chakouri is a small hill town that affords balmy weather with great views of snow clad Himalayan peaks and set atop an elevation of 2010 meter. The entire area of Chaukori teems with tea gardens and orchards. Chaukori is located around 112 km from Pithoragarh via Gangolihat and Berinag. Chaukori forms the emergence of three popular trekking routes.
- Chaukori – Berinag – Patal Bhuwaneshwar – Gangolihat.
- Chaukori – Kotbaniya – Dharmghar – Gangolihat
- Chaukori – Thal – Pithoragarh.
Gangolihat: Gangolihat is a small hill town in the Pithoragarh district mainly known for one of the 51 Shakti Peethas of Hat Kalika temple represents goddess Kali. Gangolihat is located around 78 km away from Pithoragarh and is settled at an elevation of about 1760 meters (5773 ft.). The region of Gangolihat is surrounded by two important rivers namely Saryu and Ramganga. Gangolihat offers majestic view of the rich green valleys of the Kumaon Himalayas from its hill top and it also forms a great trekking site. On the occasion of ashtami of Chaitra month devotees visit the shrine with drums and flags to pay homage to Goddess Kalika.
Jhulaghat: Jhulaghat is a small town on the Indo-Nepal border at Pithoragarh district and is named after a hanging bridge on the Kali River. One can enter Nepal through this bridge. The small market here deals in Nepali goods and other electronic items as this area is a cross – border trade route with that of Nepal.
Narayan Ashram: Narayan Ashram was established by Narayan Swami in 1936 near Sosa village. Narayan Ashram is located about 136 km north of Pithoragarh and 14 km from Tawaghat. This spiritual cum-socio educational centre is set at an elevation of 2734 meters amidst scenic surroundings with numerous species of wild flowers, rare varieties of fruits and number of waterfalls.
Dharchula: A quaint little town on the banks of river Kali located around 90 km away from Pithoragarh. Darchula is a stop-over point En-route the famous Mansarovar Yatra. A rope bridge connects India and Nepal and it acts as Trans – Himalayan trade route. Local residents from both countries frequently cross over. As a result, the localities are well conversant in Nepali. Currency from both countries is accepted here.
Patal Bhuvaneshwar: Patal Bhubaneshwar, literally means the subterranean shrine of Lord Shiva. The cave temple is 77 km from Pithoragarh and 14 km north of Gangolihat. The way to the temple is through a tunnel which leads into the cavern through a narrow dark passage of water. The electrified sanctum sanctorum is deep inside the cave.
Munsiyari: Munshyari a small Himalayan township about 124 km north of Pithoragarh and 66 km from Jauljibi. It nestles at an elevation of 2135 meters and the entire region is known as Johar valley. Munshyari is a base for treks to Milam, Ralam and Namik glaciers.
Chandraabhaga Aincholi: Chandrabhaga is small Mohalla or area in Pithoragarh district the post office of which is Aincholi is door of Pithoragarh town. This place offers a panoramic view of Pithoragarh town.
Rameshwar Ghati: Rameshwar Ghati is located at a distance of 36 km from Pithoragarh on the confluence of the Ramganga and Saryu Rivers. There are two principal temples here dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Rama.
Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary: Askot Sanctuary is located around 54 km away from Pithoragarh and is perched at an elevation of 1600 meters (5250 ft.). Askot Must Deer Sanctuary was set up to conserve the species of Musk Deer and its habitat. But apart from Musk Deer other species of wild animals found here are Bengal Tiger, Snow Leopards, Himalayan Black Bears, Indian Leopard, Himalayan Jungle Cat, Civet, Barking Deer, Sero, Ghoral, Himalayan Brown Bear and many others. Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary is also home to several species of Himalayan birds like Monals, Snow Fowls, Koklas, Pheasants and many others. River Kali forms a natural boundary that separates Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary from Nepal to the east and to the west it is bounded by West Almora Forest Division, to the north by Tibet and to the south by Pithoragarh Forest Division.
Ulka Devi temple: Ulka Devi Temple is located next to the Tourist Rest House of KMVNL on the motor road between Pithoragarh and Chandak. The temple of Ulka Devi offers remarkable view of the sprawling Soar Valley.
How to reach:
By Air: The nearest Airport to Pithoragarh is Pantnagar which is located around 241 km away. From Pantnagar Airport tourists will get buses and taxis to reach Pithoragarh. Pantnagar Airport operates flight service with major cities of India.
By Rail: The nearest railhead to Pithoragarh is Tanakpur which is located around 138 km away where the road passes through two major hills Champawat and Lohaghat. Pithoragarh is located around 240 km away from Haldwani via Almora (it is better for tourists coming from Delhi). But the route from Tanakpur is of gradual rise and descends.
By Road: Pithoragarh is well connected to all major destinations of Uttarakhand by strong road networks.
Best time to visit: Though Pithoragarh can be visited throughout the year, but it is best visited in autumn (October-November) and spring (March – April). Being in a valley, it is relatively warm during summer and cool during winter. During the coldest months of December and January, the tropical and temperate mountain ridges and high locations receive snowfall. Pithoragarh district has extreme variation in temperature due to the large variations in altitude. The temperature rises from mid-March through mid-June. During monsoon season the annual average rainfall is around 36.7 centimeters. Pithoragarh climate is cool with sufficient sunshine round the year.
Distance of other destinations from Pithoragarh:
Lohaghat – 60 km
Mayawati Ashram – 70 km
Champawat – 73 km
Shyamlataal – 114 km
Tanakpur – 150 km
Almora – 118 km
Kathgodam – 216 km
Munsiyari (Via Ogla, Didihat and Thal) – 150 km