Almora Travel Guide, History, Handicrafts, Culture and Places to Visit
Almora district nestled in Kumaon region, east of Uttarakhand is blessed with utmost scenic grandeur. It is known to offer spellbinding views of the majestic Himalayas that stand here in pride. The tides of time haven’t taken away the essence of Kumaoni culture from this place which attracts many tourists. The rich cultural heritage, unique handicrafts, ancient monuments and the finger-licking Pahadi cuisines lure people coming from all parts of the world for the places to visit in Almora.
When Mahatma Gandhi visited here he quoted- “In these hills, nature’s hospitality eclipses all men can ever do. The enchanting beauties of the Himalayas, their bracing climate and the soothing green that envelopes you leave nothing more to be desired. I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed if equalled, by any of the beauty spots of the world. After having been nearly three weeks in Almora Hills, I am more than ever amazed why our people need to go to Europe in search of health”.
Handicraft in Almora district:
Almora district is known for its art and handicraft items depicting the Kumaoni culture. Some of the art forms are indigenous to this place and cover the socio-economic aspect of the rural life. Out of these Himalayan line handicrafts, some are very rare and are in high demand as they are quite popular among the tourists. If interested, you can check the table below to know where you can get the handicraft items in this district.
The table below shows the name, place of manufacture and the approximate range of rates of the handmade items:
|Name Of Handicraft||Place of Manufacture||Price Range (As On 1.6.1998)|
|Pasmina Shawls||Munsyari, Dharchula||5,000-20,000|
|Woolen Products (Shawls, Chutka,Carpet, Thulma)||Almora, Ranikhet, Bageshwer, Munsyari, Didihat, Dharchula||200-20,000|
|Ringal Products (Musta, Dalia)||Nachani, Dharmghar||50- 5,000|
|Kumauni Folk Art||Nainital||10- 5,000|
|Drift Wood (Ekabana and Statue etc)||Nainital, Tanakpur, Bageshwer||25- 5,000|
|Copperware||Almora Town, Uder Khani, Chaugaonchina||5-10,000|
Almora Town - A stunning Tourist Place:
The pictorial town of Almora is a business hub for the Kumaon region. It is surrounded by Pithoragarh district to the east, Garhwal region to the west, Bageshwar district to the north and Nainital district to the south. The hill station of Almora is seated on a 6 km long horse-saddle shaped ridge, the eastern part of which is called Talifat and the western one is known as Selifat. The pristine Kosi and Suyal rivers flow near the city.
The surreal landscape of this town lures many travellers to beckon the Himalayas. There are multiple tourist places to visit in Almora District. Interestingly, the town got its name from a plant, Kilmora that grows in the region. The locals say that Almora’s beauty has lured many renowned personalities like the Hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda and the great poet Sumitranandan Pant. This alluring place is surrounded by other districts of Uttarakhand including Bageshwar and Chamoli on the Northern side, Pauri on the western side, Nainital on southern and Champawat on the eastern side.
History of Almora district:
Almora was once under the possession of Katyuri King, Baichaldeo who donated a major part of his land to Sri Chand Tiwari, a Gujarati Brahmin. In 1560, the capital of Chand Dynasty was shifted to Almora from Champawat by Kalyan Chand. During the reign of Chand Dynasty, Almora was named as “Rajapur” which was inscribed in a number of copper plates that were found later.
The town was the administrative headquarter of the Kumaon district that was formed in 1815, following the defeat of Gorkha army in the Anglo-Gorkha war and the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli. During that time, the Kumaon district comprised of the entire Kumaon division excluding the Terai district with its headquarters at Kashipur.
Places To Visit in Almora District:
“These mountains are associated with the best memories of our race: Here, therefore, must be one of the centres, not merely of activity, but more of calmness of meditation, and of peace and I hope someone to realize it.” – Swami Vivekananda
There are so many places to visit in Almora. Almora district is known for its quaint hill stations, ancient bazaars, international woollen market and the towering Himalayan peaks that offer adrenaline pumping trekking expeditions to the wanderers. The district boasts of many beautiful places that are worth visiting but some of the popular tourist attractions that one must reach out for are Chitai Temple, Nanda Devi Temple, Bright End Corner, Binsar Mahadev Temple, Lal Bazaar, Someshwar and Jageshwar.
Flora and Fauna:
Flora: Owing to its great elevation, the region boasts 4,000 species of plants having remarkable diversity. The flora of this region can be classified into tropical, Himalayan sub-tropical, subalpine and alpine vegetation. The alpine and sub-alpine zones are considered as the most natural abode for the largest number of medicinal plants. Sub-tropical forest zone lies between the altitude of 300 to 1,500 metres. It comprises of the following forest communities like Sal, Chir/Pine, Vijaysar, Ramal, Faliyal Oak, Chair Pine and Bany Oak Community. The Sub-temperate forest which ranges between the altitude of 1,800 metres to 2,800 metres have trees like Deodar, Utis, Horse Chestnut, Kal, Banj Oak, Rianj Oak and Tilonj Oak.
Fauna: The sub-alpine zones and the outskirts of Almora are a natural sanctuary for Leopard, Langur, Himalayan black bear, Kakar, Goral etc. Whereas the high-altitude zones abound Musk deer popularly called as Kastura Mrig, Snow leopard, Blue sheep, Thar etc. The region also serves as an abode to a variety of birds from Peacock, Grey quail, Kala Titar, Whistling-thrush, Chakor, Monal Pheasant, Cheer Pheasant, Koklas Pheasant etc.
The relation between the fauna and their favorite flora would be clear from the following table:
|Forest Type||Wild Life/Birds|
|Sub-trophical||Tiger, Chital (Axis axis) Leopard (Panthera Pardus), Fox (Vulpes vulpes montanus), Boar (Sus scrofa)|
|Tropical rain Forest||Goral (Nemoahaedus goral), Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelana), Peora Patridge (hill Patridge, Chir Pheasant)|
|Mixed Cane Forest||Himalayan Thar, Monal, Koklas|
|Khusoo Forest||Musk Deer (Moschus moschiiferus), Himalayan Thar, Black Bear|
|Sub Alpine||Blue Sheep / 'Bharal' (Pseudois nahoor) Monal|
|Alpine||Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia), Monal, Black Beer, Marmot, Bharal, Snow Cock (Tetraogallus himalayensis), Snow Patridge (Lerwa lerwa) etc.|
Almora District Stats:
District Headquarters: Almora
The Geographical area: 3,090 km2
Coordinates: 29.59718°N 79.6570°E
Total Population in 2011: 6,21,927
Literacy rate: 74.53%
Altitude: 1,514 meters
Language: Hindi, Kumaoni
Best Season: April-June and September-November
Climate: Alpine and Humid subtropical
Annual temperature: 28 to -2°C
Summer temperature: 28 to -12°C
Winter temperature: 15 to -2°C
Fairs and Festivals:
Almora district is known for its regional festivals and culture that the locals also known as Kumaoni people have beautifully sustained through all these years. Their folk culture has been central to the economic activities of the people. Several regional fairs and festivals are celebrated in Almora district that are an integral part of the Himalayan culture. Some of the best-known festivals of the region are Nanda Devi festival of Almora held during the month of September. It is organized here since the Chand Rule and is still in the hearts of the locals.
Uttarayani Festival of Bageshwar is one of the largest fairs of Kumaon region. It is a one-week long festival that is organized in the month of January and is visited by the traders from Almora. Jageshwar Monsoon Festival organized from 15 July to 15 August is another popular festival. Dusshera Festival is celebrated with great fervour in Almora. The festival falls in the month of October and commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana that signifies- “the victory of good over evil”. Thousands of tourists from the outskirts come to attend this festival.
How to Reach Almora:
Almora is well connected by motorable roads with cities like Delhi (360 km), Lucknow (437 km) and Dehradun (346 km). Buses to Almora and Kathgodam (nearest city) or Haldwani can be taken from ISBT Anand Vihar, Delhi. Almora is linked with NH 87 and NH 87E. Taxis to Almora can be easily available from Kumaon region.
Kathgodam railway station at 82 km away is the nearest railhead to Almora. Kathgodam is well connected with major destinations of India like Lucknow, Delhi and Kolkata. Trains run frequently to Kathgodam as it is the gateway to Kumaon region. Buses and Taxis are easily available to Almora from Kathgodam.
Pantnagar airport at 116 km is the nearest airport to Almora. Taxis to Nainital, Haldwani and Almora are easily available from Pantnagar Airport. Buses to Almora are also available from cities like Haldwani, Kathgodam and Nainital.