October 2008
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Almora, a Hill Resort in Uttarakhand, India

Co-ordinates: 29.62 N, 79.67 E
Area: 11.9 sq.kms.(city area)
Language: Kumaoni
Altitude : 1646 meters (5400feet)
Temperature : 4.4°to 29.4°
Rainfall: Average 828mm(33”)
Clothing: Summer- Cottons/ light woollens, Winter – Heavy woollens

Almora is located on a ridge at the southern edge of the Kumaon Hills of the Himalaya range. In the shape of a horse saddle shaped hillock, it is surrounded by thick forests of pine and fir trees, flowing alongside the city are rivers of Koshi(Kaushiki) and Suyal(salmale). The snow capped Himalayas can be seen in the background. The town is surrounded by a fertile terraced valley, and boxed in by four ranges of hills – Banari Devi, Kasan Devi, Shyahi Devi and Katarmal. Beyond them lie the Trishul and the Nanda Devi peaks in the Great Himalayan Mountain Ranges.

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History: The ancient town of Almora, was long under the possession of Katyuri king Baichaldeo. He donated major part of this land to a Gujrati Brahmin Sri Chand Tiwari. Later on when Chand kingdom was founded in Baramandal, the town of Almora was founded at this centrally located place in 1560 by Kalyan Chand. Almora gained a new lease of life under the British (who took over in 1815). Attracted by its balmy climate, they developed the picturesque hill resort.
The main avenue in Almora is the Mall, which is dotted with small restaurants and hotels. Almora’s chequered past can be witnessed in its monuments – the buildings are a confused amalgam of European and local styles of architecture. You can see indigenous cottages with European-style trimmings, as well as British bungalows, half-Indianised with great slabs of stone for roofs. The main Clock Tower provides a perfect example of the melange – erected in 1886, by an Indian but built by a British engineer, it shows a strange discordance of styles.

Some of the closeby places that would interest a tourist, and where an excursion can be made (going and coming back) within a day are:
Bright End Corner’s unforgettable sunset, Chitai temple with it’s unique collection of brass bells of all sizes that were gifted to the temple by devotees for many centuries, Kasar Devi where many Europeans live who fell in love with the place and settled down here, Nanda Devi Temple which has been the cultural and religious center of Almora for now hundreds of years. More details about the various places is here:

Bright End Corner: Located 2 km away from Almora. A highlight of this location are the spectacular views of the sunset and the sunrise seen along with Himalayan peaks. A circuit house close by allows tourists to spend some time in this peaceful surrounding. Close by is the Vivekanand Library which has many books on literature. A little away is the Vivekanand Memorial where Swami Vivekanand had stopped for a while on his journey to the Himalayas.

Almora Fort: Perch yourself atop the Almora Fort to get a bird’s-eye view of the town and its environs. This is the most valuable asset that the Chand Dynasty has bequeathed to the people of Almora. After Independence, the Fort was converted into a Collectorate and offers a 360 degree panoramic vista of Almora and the surrounding countryside.

Martola: This picnic spot amidst gardens is 10 kms away from Almora. Most of the people who live here are foreigners. Buses and taxis come up to a point called Panuwanaula and from there onwards one has to walk.

Kalimutt : 4.5 kms from Almora, this picnic spot gives a lovely view of the Himalayan Peaks.

State Museum : This museum is near the bus stand . It is closed on Mondays and other Government Holidays. It is open from 10:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

Simtola: 3 kms from Almora Simtola is a picnic spot from where one can view the beautiful mountains covered with pine and deodar trees.

Chitai Temple: Eight kms from Almora is the Chitai Temple, dedicated to Golu Devta. The people of Kumaon worship him. Once a wish is fulfilled people hang little bells in this temple. Therefore there are thousands of little bells hanging there. The view of the Himalayas is extremely beautiful from here. This temple is 8 kms away by walk through a beautiful pine forest, but one can go by cart too.

Katarmal: This 800-year old Sun Temple is the second in importance after the Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa. Seven kms away from Almora this historical important temple is an example of intricate sculpturing.

Binsar: 30 kms from Almora, Binsar has a temple of Shiva who is also called Bineswar. 2412 mts above sea level this temple was constructed by King Kalyan of the Chand Dynasty. The shiva Temples of Binsar Mahadev are a unique place for meditation and picnics.

Jageshwar : 34 kms away from Almora this temple of Shiva is situated amidst a dense Deodar forest and has a lot of mythological importance. Here there are about 164 temples of this kind. The pilgrim site located in a verdant valley is 38 kms from Almora and is believed to be one of the twelve Jyotirlinga’s in the country.

Nanda Devi Temple: This 1000-year old temple is one of the main attraction of Almora. Its walls have carvings on them. Every year a festival is held here in which youth from various mountainous areas come here to participate in this dance festival.

Gannath : Located at a distance of 47 kms from Almora this is an ancient Shiva temple with natural caves. At 2116 mts above sea level this place is a favourite with nature lovers.

Kasar Devi : Near Kalimutt is the temple of Kasar Devi. This ancient temple was built on a mountain peak in the second century. The distance between Kalimatt and Kasar Devi is less than 1 km and can be easily covered by foot. The surrounding area has become the home of many foreigners. The main town is 6 km away.

Binsar: Situated only 30 KMs away from the township of Almora lies Binsar. Nestled amongst thick forests of Oak and Rhodendron and offering surprisingly close views of the Himalayan peaks. The entire region is now a wildlife sanctuary and has a host of wildlife like Panther and Barking Deer. The temple of Binsar lies nearby. One of the many legends concerning Binsar states that ‘Should anyone take away anything belonging to the God or his worshippers and avenging spirit and compels him conscience stricken to restore it twenty fold. Even the faithless and the dishonest are said to be reformed by a visit to Binsar.

How to reach Almora:

By Air: The nearest airport is a Pant Nagar (Nainital). During the summer regular flights are operational.

Rail : The nearest railway station is Kathgodam (90kms.) which is well connected by rail with Lucknow, Delhi and Howrah.

Road : Connected by road with most places of Uttaranchal

Distances from Almora : Lucknow (466), Dehradun (412), Nainital (71), Delhi (382),
Bareilly (205), Kathgodam (90), Pithoragarh (122), Haridwar (357), Haldwani (96).

Places to stay in Almora:

Kalmatia Sangam (Himalaya Resorts)
Kasaar Jungle Resorts
Mountain Resort, Almora
Shikhar Hotel
Ranjana Hotel
Surmool Hotel

Other articles:

Some great photos of Almora at this link.

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