Almora – does the name remind you of a Harry Potter spell to open locks? Well, this sleepy little town, perched atop the Kumaon Himalayas, is certainly magical. And it is guaranteed to open up many unknown doors to natural beauty and serenity. This Uttarakhand city is sure to help you find some of the most splendid and spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan peaks. The locales are right out of a picture book and it is also the ideal place to get away from the scorching summers that haunt north Indian plains. Despite having served as a cantonment during the days of the British Raj, Almora has retained its pristine clean air and inviting beauty. Being close to the national capital has only helped in developing the city’s tourism potential.
Unlike most hill stations in India, Almora was not developed by the British in search of cool haunts during the summers. It was the seat of the Katyuni and Chand dynasties of India. Almora was the capital of the Chand dynasty. Archeological evidence found here, however, suggests that settlement here dates back to the days of Vedic India. It is also mentioned in the Manaskhand. In 1744, Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla took over Almora and later in 1790 the Gurkhas captured the region. In 1815, the British took hold of the region after defeating the Gurkhas
How to get there
The Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun, at a distance of some 340 kilometres, is the nearest airport to Almora with regular flight services. From Dehradun, regular bus services and reliable taxi services take tourists to the quaint town of Almora. The roads are good and the towns en route such as Bhowali, Kathgodam, and Ranikhet are breathtakingly beautiful apart from offering tourists food and necessary amenities.
The two main railway stations that connect Almora with most of the main towns of north India are Kathgodam, about 82 kilometres away and Haldwani, about 80 kilometres away. Regular bus services from both Kathgodam and Haldwani connect Almora with these two places.
Apart from the bus services that connect Almora with Kathgodam and Haldwani, there are regular bus services between Delhi and Almora. Regular Uttarakhand state buses ply from ISBT bus stop in Delhi and cover a distance of 360 kilometres to get to Almora.
Places to Visit
- Kasar Devi Temple: The Kasar Devi temple in a village, some 8 kilometres north of Almora, is a must-visit. Not only is the temple set in a very pretty locale, it is famous for being visited by mystics.
- Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary: Full of oak trees and exotic animals such as the mountain leopard, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for the nature lover. It is located some 30 kilometres from Almora.
- Gobind Vallabh Pant Museum: Right in the heart of Almora is the Gobind Vallabh Pant Museum which showcases artifacts and relics belonging to freedom fighter Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant and Uttarakhand’s rich heritage.
- Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum: Off the Mall is located the Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum. The museum showcases the valor and rich history of the Kumaon Regiment, one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army.
- Katarmal Sun Temple: One of the lesser known sun temples of the region, the Katarmal Sun Temple is known for its sculpture and beauty. There are over 45 shrines in the complex.
- Kalimath: A very beautiful and serene picnic spot at a distance of about 5 kilometres from Almora, Kalimath gets its name from the black soil and the nearby Kali temple.
- Martola: Martola’s manicured lawns and rolling green slopes are faintly reminiscent of Europe. About 10 kilometres from Almora, this is an ideal weekend getaway.
- Bright End Corner – Bright End Corner is a spot on a hairpin bend near Almora. It is known for the spectacular view of the valley and the Himalayas that it offers.
One place around Almora that you cannot afford to miss in the course of your visit is Kausani, approximately 52 kilometers away. One of the most beautiful locales of the region, Kausani is best known for the panoramic spectacular views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks such as Nanda Devi and Trisul. Apart from being a much loved tourist destination, Kausani is well-known for having played host to a number of famous people. This little town was the birthplace of one of the most renowned Hindi poets, Sumitranandan Pant. Mahatma Gandhi stayed here for a few days while he wrote his book Anasakti Yoga.
Best time to visit
Temperatures in this part of the Kumaon Himalayas can dip down to freezing levels in winters. Summers also bring torrid showers and landslides. The ideal months to visit Almora are between February and April and again between September and November. February and November can get rather chilly, though.
Places to stay
Almora is a popular getaway for tourists from North India and for international visitors as well. You are likely to find cottages on rent, hotels with modern amenities, and homestays – everything to suit your budget.
Fairs and festivals
This region hosts a number of fairs and festivals.
Kasar Devi Fair – Hosted by the Kasar Devi Temple during Kartik Poornima in November.
Nanda Devi Festival – Initiated by the Chand rulers of the region, this festival is held in honor of Nanda Devi and is held in September each year.
Dussehra Festival – Fair held to commemorate the Hindu festival, celebrated in September-October.
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