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Almora Tourism and Travel Guide

History - The story

The region around Almora was ruled by the Katyur dynasty from the 9th century AD. In 1560 Almora was made the capital of the Chand rulers. Occupied by the Chand dynastyAlmora till the 18th century, it was annexed by the Gurkhas in 1798 and finally the British after the Gurkha wars of 1814 -1815. Over the centuries, Almora’s has retained its pre-eminence as a cultural and administrative centre and an important market town for the region.

How to Reach

By Air: The nearest airport to Almora is at Pantnagar, the seat of a famous agricultural university, about 127 KMs from Almora.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam situated around 90 KMs away. Kathgodam is connected by rail directly with Delhi, the capital of India, Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Dehradun the capital of the state of Uttaranchal and Calcutta.

By Road: From Kathgodam local transport, private taxies as well as buses run by private operators, and buses run by the state government corporation - UASRTC are available at all hours. By road Almora is connected conveniently and is merely 380 KMs away from Delhi, 466 KMs from Lucknow and 415 KMs from Dehradun.

Monuments

Hill station: Travel to Almora, situated 90 kilometres from its nearest railhead Kathgodam, the small town of Almora is perched atop a five kilometre long, horseshoe-shaped ridge. 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.

Almora is one of the three administrative districts which make up the beautiful hilly region of Kumaon – the other two being Nainital and Pithoragarh. The town is a relief of snow-clad mountains, fast-flowing waters, placid lakes, and terraced fields clinging on to steep slopes and small villages.

Historic Perspective: Unlike many other hill stations in North India which were essentially discovered by the British, Almora has a long history and has existed since the Vedic Age. There is an allusion to Almora in the Hindu scripture, the Skanda Purana. It was believed to be the abode of Vishnu – the Preserver of the Universe according to Hindu mythology.

The place gained in importance in 1560, when Raja Kalyan Chand of Kumaon made it his capital. The Gorkhas of Nepal overran the town in 1790, but met their comeuppance at the hands of the British 25 years later.

Almora gained a new lease of life under the British. Attracted by its balmy climate, they developed the picturesque hill resort. The circulation of air in Almora is much freer than at Nainital or Bhim Tal, and the place is the most salubrious of all the hill stations in Kumaon.

Places of Interest: The main avenue in Almora is the Mall, which is dotted with small rAlmoraestaurants 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.

Shiva Temple: Old Almora houses a Shiva Temple – a magnificent monument, dedicated to the Destroyer of the Universe according to Hindu mythology. In its antechamber lies the Temple of Nanda Devi – the patron goddess of the Chand Dynasty.
The stone-flagged bazaars of Almora overflow with milling crowds in the evenings. The architecture here is a blend of the traditional and the modern. The older structures characterised by wooden doorways and window frames present an attractive sight. Travel to the most noted building in the area is the Khazanchi Mohalla – a historical building which once belonged to the state’s treasurers.

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 360o cycloramic vista of Almora and the surrounding countryside.
Adjacent to the Collectorate lie an array of smallish temples, and on one of them is inscribed: ‘Fort Nanda Devi, erected by Chand Rajas and strengthened by the Gurkha government, captured by the British under Col. Nicholls on 26.4.1815.
The convention for the surrender of Kumaon was formed the next day.’ The convention being referred to is the ‘Treaty of Sagauli’, whereby the entire area of Kumaon was ceded to the British.

Tamta Mohalla-- House of Traditional Arts While in Almora, travel to Tamta Mohalla to catch a glimpse of one of the traditional arts of Almora – copperware. Coppersmiths abound in the area along with another local craft – the weaving of traditional tweeds and shawls.

Kausani - A Beautiful Excursion From Almora Kausani, 50 km from Almora
Popularised as the ‘Switzerland of India’ Kausani makes an excellent travel excursion from Almora. It is a tiny settlement situated on a hilltop. The view from Kausani is breathtaking – some of the highest mountains in the world including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Nanda Devi and Nampa are only a few kilometres away from the town, as the crow flies. The town houses the Anashakti Yoga Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi stayed in 1929. The beauty of the place enchanted the ‘father of the nation’ and the ashram (cloister) abides by his dictum of ‘simple living’.

Fairs and Festivals

Almora is a land of rich culture and tradition which has been well preserved and passedAlmora on from one generation to another. It is a land of fairs and festivals. Not a month passes without any fair or festival and people of Almora hold close to their hearts their religious values.

Nanda Devi Festival is the most famous of all celebrated in the month of September. Celebrated with great joy here near Nanda Devi temple, a fair is also held during the same time. The magnitude of the festival can be realised by the fact that 25,000 people come to attend the festival.

Another important festival celebrated around the place is Uttraini festival celebrated in January and a week long fair accompanies it. This is the most popular fair in the entire region. People from mountains and plains come here in this festival and fair organised in Bageshwar, 90 kms from Almora.

Jageshwar monsoon festival is celebrated in the month of July and August. The festival is very significant from religious and historical point of view. Each day during the festival, approximately 1000 tourists pay visit to Jageshwar temple. Dushhera, the famous Hindu festival is another important festival here and is celebrated in a unique manner drawing large crowds from far and wide. Almora being so culturally active and rich has many many other fairs and festivals round the year.

Hotels in Almora

Kasaar Jungle Resorts
Kalmatia Sangam