from the tourist humdrum of Nainital and Ranikhet, Almora has retained much of its traditional values and old world charm. One of the few hill stations that predated the British, the town of Almora still has cobbled street and fascinating stone houses with exquisite carved wooden facades. Refreshingly unspoilt, Almora is a peaceful little hill resort where the evenings are cool, the views panoramic and the ambience perfect for a quiet break from the big city bustle. Feast your eyes on mile upon mile of the most stupendous mountain ranges in this part of the world. Go trekking and mountain-climbing. Shop for warm shawls and rustic copper utensils- and don''t forget Almora''s famous baal mithai.
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 dynasty 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 get there by Air
The nearest airport is at Pantnagar, 127 kms away. You will have to hire a taxi or take a bus to get to Almora.
How to get there by Rail
The nearest railhead is at Kathgodam, 90 kms down in the plains, connecting the region to many major north Indian cities including Delhi, Lucknow and Agra. There are private taxis at the station and daily buses from Kathgodam to Almora. These take about 4 hours to wind their way up the mountain roads.
How to get there by Bus
There are buses to Almora from other major hill towns of Kumaon including Nainital (3 hours), Ranikhet (2 1/2 hours) and Kausani (3 hours).
Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Almora is between April and June and again between September and November which are the peak tourist seasons. The rains come in June till August and the mountains have a charm of their own then. The Nanda Devi festival in August and the Dussehra celebration in September-October also draws a whole lot of visitors.
Most of the hotels are around the Mall. There aren''t any 5-star international chains here, but tourist accommodation is largely comfortable and hotels are decent. Some good options are the Hotel Mount Haven, Kasaar Jungle Resort and Khazanchand Mansion. The tourist authority, KMVN, runs a holiday
home with a main building and tourist cottages. You could also stay with some of the local families that take in guests in the area of Kasara Devi temple, 7 kms out of town.
POLICE - Almora Police Station : 230323 Women''s Police Station : 232349 HOSPITAL - Victor Mohan Joshi Government District Women Hospital : +91-5962-230426 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +91-5962-230426 end_of_the_skype_highlighting Pandit Har Govind Pant District Hospital : +91-5962-237773begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +91-5962-237773 end_of_the_skype_highlighting TOURSIM BOARD OFFICE - KMVN Regional Tourist Office
: 05962-230250 Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board : +(91)-(135)-2722323begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +(91)-(135)-2722323 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 2624147
Martola is a wonderful picnic spot set amidst forested hills and beautiful gardens, just 10 kms from Almora. Martola has become a refuge for many ex-city dwellers. Koshi, 12 kms from Almora, houses the Govind Vallabh Pant Environment Research Institute. Koshi is also a popular
picnic resort with a guest house for overnight halts. Katarmal, considered to be the second most important sun temple in the country lies 17 kms from Almora. The structure is almost 800 years old and was built by the Katyur rulers of Kumaon. Once replete with extraordinary carvings and sculpted images, the temple now lies in ruins.Binsar, a small hill town locally also known as Jhandi Dhar is about 28 kms from Almora. Rising to a height of 2,412 metres, the town is presided by the temple of Bineshwar (an incarnation of Shiva). Once the summer capital of the Chand rulers, Binsar is a quiet locale with a splendid 300 km panoramic view of major Himalayan peaks including Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trisul, Nandaghunti, Nanda Devi, Nandakot and Panchuli. Binsar has now been designated a protected reserve forest area, with a bird sanctuary. You can take cool peaceful walks through oak and rhododendron forests. It is an easy day trip from Almora but you may stay on at the tourist complex in town. In addition, there are private resorts outside the Binsar sanctuary and a wonderful forest rest house with antique furniture and fine cutlery. Jageshwar, is a holy site 34 kms from Almora, with its complex of stone temples dedicated to Shiva. The temples are of great historical and architectural significance; they were constructed over a period of thousand years during the 8th century AD. An important medieval centre of Shaivism, Jageshwar is considered one of the 12 jyotirlingas (lingam of light) that are highly revered by devotees. The main Jageshwar shrine has intricately carved pillars and a small museum exhibiting ancient artefacts. The ancient village, in an idyllic setting next to a gurgling stream and surrounded by fragrant pine forests, is a charming place to walk through. Winding cobbled lanes, traditional homes with finely carved doors and windows and friendly people greet you on the way. KMVN runs a Tourist Rest house with rooms and a restaurant here. Gannath is another ancient Shaivite shrine is 47 kms from Almora. Hidden within dense forests, the shrine has special festivities during the day leading up to the full-moon night of Kartik Purnima (November). Ranikhet is a sylvan cantonment town some 50 km west of Almora. At 1,829 m Ranikhet spreads over ridges and dense pine forests where even today locals encounter the occasional leopard on the outskirts of town. Though one of the most beautiful hill resorts in Kumaon region, Ranikhet isn''t yet the main hub of tourist activity and is relatively unspoilt. A laid-back style with winding forest paths, a golf course, churches and sprawling colonial bungalows lends an air of timelessness to the small town. According to popular legend, a queen (rani) who once visited this area was so charmed by its beauty that she stayed back and established the town. Literally, Ranikhet stands for ''fields of the queen'', named after this popular story. The ridge tops of Ranikhet are good vantage points for views of Himalayan peaks including the Nanda Devi group. Kausani , covered with pine forests is a beautiful hill retreat 53 kms north of Almora. This loosely scattered settlement offers a panoramic view of Himalayan peaks. Renowned as a retreat and the location where Mahatma Gandhi stayed for some time in 1929, Kausani still retains its links with Gandhian ideals, including spinning the charkha (spinning wheel). The Anashakti Ashram, where the Mahatma stayed and wrote his commentary on the Gita, has a rest house and a library. Kausani is also a good base for treks deeper into the Himalayas, including Bageshwar, Gwaldam and the Pindari Glacier. Kausani has a host of good hotels including ones run by KMVN. You could also stay at the Anashakti Ashram which in keeping with Gandhi ashrams anywhere has spartan accommodation. Baijnath is a temple town mid-way between Kausani and Gwaldam. 71 kms from Almora, this hamlet sits in a broad valley next to the Gomti River. The 12th and 13th century temples built during the Katyur rule, is of great historical and architectural significance. Though mostly in ruins, these stone temples have elaborately carved wooden doors and windows. The main shrine, dedicated to goddess Parvati (Shiva's consort), is one of the few structures that still stands intact. Some basic accommodation at the KMVN Tourist rest house and the irrigation department inspection bungalow besides small cafes are available at the site.Bageshwar ,sitting at the confluence of the Gomti and Sarayu rivers is another important Hindu temple town . 90 kms from Almora, Bageshwar has a group of ancient 15th century temples and two sacred pools. The main shrine dedicated to Baghnath or Shiva has the characteristic amalaka surrounded by a wooden roof. The temple has a collection of bronze bells, which are offerings made by devotees – an ancient Kumaoni tradition followed in many shrines of the region. According to legend, this temple town was built underneath the mythical Mount Nila by one of Shiva's devotees and was inhabited by the gods and the gandharvas and apsaras or celestial beings. When Shiva and Parvati entered the place, a voice from the heavens welcomed them, thus giving the name ‘Vagishwar' (lord of the eloquent speech). The Uttarayani fair held in January is an important religious festival at Bageshwar. KMVN runs a Tourist Bungalow and a restaurant in the town. It is possible to hire trekking gear here. Pindari Glacier is a short distance from Bageshwar, and is one of the popular trekking destinations in the Himalayas. Chaukori , to the northeast is a secluded retreat. Set amidst thick alpine forests with a wonderful view of the Panchuli peaks and Nanda Kot, Chaukori is secluded and beautiful. Overnight halts are possible at the KMVN Tourist rest house or at hotels in Berinag, 8 kms away. Pithoragarh , the administrative centre of Kumaon lies along the Son valley. Sharing its borders with Tibet and Nepal, this is an important transit town 188 kms northeast of Nainital. At a height of 1,650 metres, Pithoragarh offers exhilarating views of Nanda Devi and the Saipal and Api massifs in western Nepal. It is also on the route of the highest pilgrimage of Kailash - Mansarovar in Tibet. The town has some ancient Chand dynasty temples and is guarded by a hill fort 7 kms away. There are several budget hotels and the tourism department guesthouse in town. You can also stay in the tented accommodation provided by private tour operators, which includes spacious living tents, baths and food. Munsiyari lies at the junction of the inner Himalayas bordering Nepal, 154 kms from Pithoragarh. Down in a deep valley and gorge of the Gori River, Munsiyari has the best view of the five symmetrical Panchuli peaks. The name literally stands for the five (panch) hearths (chuli) on which the Pandavas cooked their last meal before ascending to heaven. A tough 11 km. trek leads along a trail to the Kalika Pass at 2,700 metres where there is a Shakti temple nestling amidst dense pine forests. 12 kms from Munsiyari is the hamlet of Malkot and glaciers of the Panchuli group. The alpine meadows or bugyal of Chiplakot lie 30 kms beyond Munsiyari. The small town is also a base for treks to Milam, Ralam and Namik glaciers and expeditions to the Panchuli peaks. KMVN's tourist rest house and some other budget hotels offer rooms for overnight halts at Munsiyari. You can also equip yourself with mountaineering or trekking gear from the speciality stores in town.