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Almora - cultural heart of the kumaon

DISTANCE - 382 KM From Delhi, 357 KM Haridwar, 71 KM From Nanital

CONNECTION
By Air : Almora being a small city in Uttarakhand is not well connected by air route, Pantnagar is the closest airport 127 kilometers from Almora and flights are available during summers.
By Rail : Almora is well connected by railways and the closest railhead is Kathgodam (90 kms) which is well connected by trains to Delhi, Lucknow, Dehradun, Agra, Bareilly and Kolkata.
By Road : Almora has a strong network of roads and buses ply between Almora and Delhi (380 kms.), Lucknow (466 kms.), Dehradun (415 kms) and other important places.

ABOUT ALMORA
Almora is a small town in Uttarakhand situated on a hillock at an altitude of 1650 meters above sea level, about 66 kms from Nainital. Almora looks like a 5 km. long horse – shoe shaped ridge, where the Sitoli forms the front arm and the bazaar the other arm. The town looks out over a fertile terraced basin and four ranges of hills – Banari Devi, Kasan Devi, Shyahi Devi and Katarmal. The Trishul and Nanda Devi peaks in the great Himalayas are located beyond them. In the 16th century the capital of the Chand rulers was shifted from Champawat to Almora. Almora is the district nerve center and the Vivekananda Hill Agricultural Research Laboratory is also housed here. The town is an amalgamation of social and cultural influences drawn from all over Kumaon. Almora was also the home of freedom fighters, writers, journalists, editors, administrators, soldiers and artists. Almora is one of the rare places in the hills where short distances take hours to cover because of twisty, winding hill roads which allows you to visit many places from one central point.

Almora was founded by the Chand dynasty in 1560. The Chands ruled over most of the Kumaon which comprises of the present districts of Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh. Almora still claims to be the cultural capital of the area. Traces of the old Chand fort, paved roads, wooden houses with beautifully carved facades and homes decorated with traditional murals reflect its heritage. Along with the rest of the UP Himalaya, it was overrun by the Gurkhas in 1798. In the Gurkha Wars of 1814-15, it suffered heavy bombardment by the British as they endeavoured to expel the Gurkhas. Now it is an important market town and administrative centre with an agricultural research station. The picturesque old part of the town is along the ridge. Swami Vivekananda came to Almora and in a small cave at Kasar Devi, 6 kms outside the town, he reputedly gained enlightenment and dreamt that he should share his message with the world.

PLACES OF INTERESTS IN ALMORA
Govind Vallabh Pant Public Museum : Govind Vallabh Pant Public Museum is a nice place to visit ad is near Almora bus stand and is well known for  its rich collection of items relating to the history, archeology and cultural significance. The rich collection of this museum takes you on a journey of different phases of history of Almora. 'Apen' is a folk style of painting found in this region and can be seen here in this museum in its various aspects.

Bright & Corner : This place is also known for a place to meditate, situated in the mountains, the place is famous for its view at sunrise and sunset. The place is unusually calm. It is said that the peacefulness of this place cannot be matched with any other hill station. One can visit the circuit house nearby which also has a serene setting. For those in love with philosophy and spirituality, there is no better place. Nearby is Vivekananda Library in Ramakrishna Kutir. Swami Vivekananda had stayed here during the time he spent in Himalayas.

Simtola : It is a stunning place only 5 kms from Almora. The place is famous for its picture postcard view, miles of terrain with beautiful hills lined with pine and fur trees. Lying on the opposite side of the horseshoe ridge, Simtola is a quite picnic spot. While visiting Simtola, you can also pay a visit to the nearby Hiradungi which used to be a diamond mine and the beautiful 'Granite Hill' close by.

Khajanchi Mohalla : Khajanchi Mohalla literally means treasurer's area. This place is named for glimpses of old style architecture. The area dates back to the times of kings in Almora, it then belonged to the state treasurers.

Collectorate : This is the old Almora fort located at the highest point of Almora bazaar. You will find the best city view from this place.

Martola : It is a beautiful place just 10 kms from Almora and is famous for gardens and forests, the place has good scenic beauty. Many foreigners who came here liked the place so much that they settled here. A good picnic trip can be made here.

Koshi : A place of unmatched beauty, Koshi lies 12 kms from Almora. A stay here can be arranged at the circuit house.

RELIGIOUS PLACES IN ALMORA
Nanda Devi Temple : It is true that no one knows what exact time is and when this temple was built but it is believed to be hundreds of years old. People of this region and around have deep faith in this temple and it shows. Its the most famous temple around with thousands of pilgrims paying it a visit every year. Naina Devi was the patron goddess of Chandravanshi kings. This is the most famous place in Almora, it is as if old Almora lies preserved here. The temple stands in the antechamber of Shiva temple. Walls of the temple have been intricately carved attractively with true to life images. Nanda Devi Fair held here in the month of September draws large crowds.

Chetai Temple : This is one of the oldest temple in Almora and is a sacred temple of Golu Devta, 6 Kilometres from Almora perched on a hilltop. Golu Devta was deified general of Chand dynasty that once ruled Almora. The temple has his shrine. Devotees, as thanksgiving offer bells here which are decorated on the canopy of these bells. Surrounded by fur and pine tree forest, a visit to this temple will prove beneficial for nature lovers. The temple bears strong faith among the locals here and goats are sacrificed here in front of the deity.

Kalimat : This is yet another old and sacred temple I Almora and provides the best  view of Almora town and is just 4.5 kilometers from Almora. There is also a temple of Kasar Devi here. Amazingly true, the temple dates back to second century.

Katarmal : Next to the Konark temple of Orissa, Katarmal's sun temple is the most significant sun temple. This 800 year old temple has not received the kind of attention it deserves. Katarmal is 17 kilometres from Almora and worth paying a visit. Though the place is in ruins due to neglect but you will see some interesting architecture and intricate images carved out on walls.

Jageshwar : This is an old and famous temple known as the Jageshwar temple situated 34 kilometers from Almora. This temple is counted among the 12 jyotirlings of the country. There are more than 100 large and small's shrines in the complex, of them three shrines of Jageshwar, Mrityunjaya and Pushtidevi are notable for their sculptures. Jageshwar lies in a narrow valley surrounded by large deodars.

WHEN TO GO ALMORA
Almora is a place that can be visited any time of the year, yet the summer season between the months of March to June is the best.

WEATHER FORECAST
The hill station of Almora is located over a horse-saddle fashioned crest of a Himalayan mountain. Positioned at an elevation of 1,646 m (5,400 ft), Almora has an enjoyable but sometimes cold climate all the way through the year. Almora has an average annual maximum temperature of around 23o C and average minimum temperature of approximately 10o C. The annual average rainfall hovers more or less around the figure of 1,152 mm.

EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN ALMORA

Almora is a traditional land of rich culture which has been well preserved and passed 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.

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