Almora is a picturesque district and a cantonment town in the Kumaon region of Indian state of Uttarakhand, with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Himalaya summons tourists worldwide to its alluring grandeur of natural beauty. Almora is located on a ridge at the southern edge of Kumaon Hills of the Himalayan ranges. Due to its geographical location, Almora is situated on a horse show shaped ridge of a mountain. The eastern part is known as Talifat and the western part is Selifat. Nestled on the higher peaks of the Himalayas, Almora enjoys a round – year mild temperate climate. Almora is nestled at an elevation of about 1638 meter (5374 ft). Almora was founded in 1568 AD by Maharaja Kalyan Chand who built up his empire and ruled over the Kumaon kingdom. Almora is considered as the cultural heart of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. In 1815 Almora was taken away by the British government. But unlike the neighboring hill station like Nainital which was developed by the British, Almora was developed much before the Chand Kings rule. The place where the present cantonment is located was earlier or formerly known as Lalmandi. Two of the major rivers of the Kumaon region namely River Koshi and River Suyal flow by both the sides of Almora. When the foundation stone of the town was laid by King Bhishm Chand, it was initially named as Alamnagar. During the early phase of the Chand rule Almora was known as ‘Rajpur’. The name Almora derived from Bhilmora/ Kilmora which is a type of sorrel (a type of herb commonly found here, which was used for washing utensils of the Katarmal Sun Temple). The locals who used to bring this herb were called Bhilmori and later Almori and the place later came to be known as Almora. Almora is a popular tourist destination for its alluring scenic landscapes, panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges, rich cultural heritage and unique handicrafts. Almora is popularly known for its Angora cloths specially made from rabbit’s fur and special copper vessels. The town of Almora is surrounded by thick forests of Pine and Oak trees all over. The history of Almora goes back to the time when it was under the control of the Katyuri dynasty; later King Bhaichaldeo donated a part of Almora to Sri Chand Tiwari. According to local tradition, the earliest inhabitants in Almora were Tewaris who were required to supply sorrel daily for cleansing the vessels of the sun temple at Katarmal. Almora offers a panoramic view of the snowy peaks of Himalayas on any clear day and in addition a glimpse of the township with its roofed houses and paved streets. Tourists can also enjoy the beauty of sunrise and sunset at Bright End Corner, which is 02 km from Almora. It is here that Swami Vivekananda stopped en-route to the Himalayas.
Places of tourist’s interest around Almora
Bright End Corner: Bright End Corner is a noted tourist spot located around 02 km from Almora. Bright End Corner is located at the end of Almora ridge that allows tourists to gaze at the panoramic view of the mighty Himalayan ranges. The Bright End Corned was named after Mr. Brighton and it also marks the beginning of the mall road at Almora. Bright End Corner is located with close proximity to the Shri Ramkrishna Kutir thus makes it a perfect place for self-meditation also. However Bright End Corner is also regarded as a perfect view point for sunrise and sunset at Almora.
Govind Ballav Panth Museum: Govind Ballav Pant museum also known as the state museum located opposite to Almora ISBT bus stand. This is the only museum at Almora and was built in 1980 and was named after Govind Ballav Pant to honour his efforts as a freedom fighter and his noteworthy contributions in the development of Uttarakhand. The museum remains open from 10.00 am to 04.00 pm except Mondays. Govind Ballav Pant Museum houses the arts, culture, history and social life style of Kumaon region. The museum has collections of ancient Gods and Goddesses that date back to 09th century. Other collectibles which are seen in this museum are good collection of copper and gold coins and currencies of different countries, the varied and good collection of antiques those dates back to the Katyuri and Chand dynasties, wide collection of Kumauni style Aipan paintings (these paintings are very authentic in research works on history and culture of Uttarakhand. Other things exhibited in the museum are Boshi Sena’s personal collection of miniature paintings, wood works, terracotta sculptures, bronze items, musical instruments, ivory copper plates and manuscripts. Govind Ballav Pant Museum is a place of must visit in Almora tour.
Shri Ramkrishna Kutir: Shri Ramkrishna Kutir is a small ashram located near Bright End Corner at Almora and was established on May 22 1916 under the auspicious presence of Swami Vivekananda. The Ramkrishna Kutir was established by Swami Turiyananda who was a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. Shri Ramkrishna Kutir continues to be a center of meditation, though presently a part of the ashram is converted into a guest house for visitors. However it remains open for visitors only during April to June and September to November. Apart from the guest house there is a library inside the Shri Ramkrishna Kutir. The whole area of Shri Ramkrishna Kutir is surrounded by numerous Pine trees all over making it a perfect place for natural meditation. The space inside the kutir provided by Swami Vivekananda rest house is used as a school for the local children in the morning.
Simitola: Simtola is a picturesque tourist spot located around 03 km from Almora to the opposite of horseshoe ridge. Simtola also offers a panoramic view of the lush green valley of the surrounding region. Simitola is surrounded by lush green Pine, Fir and Deodar trees all over. Famous dancer Udayshankar was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Almora that he established an open air theater at Simitola Pine Lodge and named it ‘All India Cultural Center’. From Simtola within a short hike tourists can reach a small hamlet of Hiradungi.
Kasar Devi Temple: The Kasar Devi temple is located at Kasar Devi village in Almora. The temple is dedicated to the native deity of the region Kasar Devi. Kasar Devi Temple is located around 07 km from Almora. The structure of the temple dates back to around 02nd century. The temple is set atop a ridge with calm and peaceful ambience surrounded by lush green Pine and Deodar trees all over. The periphery of the temple offers a panoramic view of the wide valleys of Almora and Kumaon region. The Kasar Devi Temple forms a pilgrimage destination at Almora. The Kasar Devi Temple is deeply graced by the presence of Swami Vivekananda during his visit during 1980. The natural ambience of the temple attracts many eminent poets and personalities. Tourists visiting Kasar Devi Temple can indulge in activities like village walk, bird watching and meditation. In the month of November – December a large fair is held known as Kasar Devi Fair.
Katarmal Surya (Sun) Temple: Katarmal Surya Temple or The Katarmal Sun Temple is a 09th century old temple located around 19 km from Almora and nestled at an altitude of about 2116 meter. The Katarmal Surya Temple was built by Katarmalla, who was a Katyuri King. The architectural excellence and the intricately carved designs on the wooden doors and panels signify it as one of the beautiful temples in India. The Katarmal Sun Temple dates back to around 800 years old. The ancient carvings and design of the Katarmal Sun Temple was declared a monument of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.
Jageshwar Dham: Jageshwar is an old settlement atop the valleys of Kumaon Hills mainly known for the clusters of around 125 temples known as Jageshwar Dham among which most of these temples were dedicated to Lord Shiva. Jageshwar Dham is an important tourist destination situated amidst lush green forests of Pine and Deodar trees with a stream flowing in its backyard. The temples at Jageshwara Dham were constructed during the Katyuri rule. Jageshwar Dham is also considered as a pilgrimage destination in Almora district and nestled at an altitude of about 1870 meter (6135 ft). Jageshwar Dham is located around 36 km to the north – east of Almora. Most of these temples date back to around 07th and 12th centuries and are curved with Nagara Style of architecture. It takes about 01 hour by car to reach Jageshwar Dham from Almora.
Deer Park: Deer Park at Almora is one of the most famous spots for nature and wildlife lovers. The Deer Park is located around 03 km from Almora and is home to myriad species of animals like deer, leopard and Himalayan black bear. The Deer Park at Almora is surrounded by dense Pine trees all over making it a perfect habitat for wildlife species. The Deer Park is located at Narayan Tiwari Dewai.
Nanda Devi temple: Nanda Devi Temple is one of the main attractions of Almora. The Nanda Devi is an incarnation of Durga and the temple dates back to around 1000 year old. The Nanda Devi temple is situated in the local market area of Almora. The walls of the temple are intricately designed by skillful artists during the period of Chand rule in the Kumaon region. Each year in the month of September thousands of tourists visit the temple for the Nanda Devi Fair. Nanda Devi temple is a must visit site during the Almora tour.
Chitai Golu Devta temple: Chitai Temple at Almora is dedicated to the Golu Devta of the region. Golu Devta is regarded as the god of justice and it is one of the most sacred temples of the region. Golu Devta is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva in the form of Gaur Bhairav. The Chitai Golu Devta temple is located around 09 km from Almora at Champawat, Chitai and it is estimated that the temple was built around the 15th century AD by the Rai dynasty. Devotees from all over the country visit this temple with a desire to fulfill their wish. Devotees write up their wish on a piece of paper as a letter addressing the god and hang the letter tied with a red coloured thread at the temple. On fulfilling the wish devotees in return tie a brass bell and hang it on the roof of the temple. These brass bells differ in sizes, from tiny sized to the size of an adult human. Some of these brass bells weigh about 100 kilos. Some of the devotees whose wishes are not fulfilled file a petition on a stamp paper about their grievances and hang it on the walls of the temple. That is why the walls of the temple are seen covered with numerous stamp papers. The temple is surrounded by thick forests of Chir, Pine and Deodar trees all over. The Golu Devta temple is a must visit site at Almora.
Kalimut: Kalimut is a picturesque hamlet located around 05 km north of Almora in the Hawalbagh Tehsil. Kalimat village is known for village trails and scenic natural wonders of the region. Kalimut is also a famous picnic spot surrounded by dense forests of Pine and Oak all over.
Lakhudiyar Rock Painting Cave: Lakhudiyar Rock Painting Caves are located in the Barechhina village on the banks of Suyal River in the Almora district. The word Lakhudiyar means ‘One Lakh Caves’. These cave paintings depicts the life of early man of the Stone Age. On the walls of the caves there are paintings depicting animals, humans and also tectiforms. The cave is located around 19 km from the main town of Almora. On one side of the wall are the paintings of people who are shown performing a mass dance in a group of 34 people and on the other side the group is of 28 people. These pictures also depicted the clothes and domesticated animals those are believed to represent life in the prehistoric village. These paintings are drawn with fingers in red, black and white colour. Presently Lakhudiyar Rock Painting Cave is an archeological site and became a popular tourist attraction spot in Almora.
Kumaon Festival: Throughout the year Almora hosts a number of festivals. Some of these notable festivals are Nanda Devi Festival, Dushera Festival, Jageshwar Monsoon Festival. Other festivals are associated with the heritage, art and culture of the region of Almora.
How to reach: Almora can be reached by flight, rail and road services. Almora is located around 64 km from Nainital, 45 km from Ranikhet, 25 km from Binsar, 90 km from Haldwani and 82 km from Kathgodam. Almora is well connected with all major destinations of Uttarakhand by strong road networks.
By Air: The nearest Airport is Pantnagar which is about 115 km from Almora. Dehradun Jolly Grant Airport is also the nearest Airport to Almora which is about 173 km away. From both these Airports buses and hired cars are available for Almora.
By Rail: The nearest rail head to Almora is Kathgodam which is about 86 km from Almora. Kathgodam is well connected by strong rail networks with Howrah and other major cities of India. Kathgodam can also be reached via Lalkuan. From Lalkuan around 20 km is Haldwani and 26 km is Kathgodam. Kumaon region is also well connected with Delhi by strong rail networks also.
By Road: Almora is well connected with good motor-able roads with other destinations of Uttarakhand. Almora is well connected with NH87 and NH87E. Shared cars are also available for Almora. From Delhi superfast bus services are also available for Almora. From Delhi around 365 km is Almora.
Best time of Visit: Though Almora can be visited throughout the year. But it is better to visit during summers which are between April to June and the onset of winter like September to November. During summers the climate remains very favorable for tourists to get around different locations, whereas the onset of winters offers a clear view of the Himalayan ranges and the valleys as well.