Almora is one of the three hill districts of Kumaon. The other two being Nainital and Pithoragarh. It is the cultural capital of Kumaon. Almora is also referred to as the unspoilt child of nature. It is situated on a three-mile long horse saddle-shaped ridge and is surrounded by four hill ranges - Banari Devi, Kasar Devi, Shayahi Devi and Katarnal. The three peaks have temples of Goddesses while Katarnal has an ancient Sun temple worth visiting.
Almora was the capital of the Chand dynasty, which ruled Kumaon for more than one thousand years. One remarkable fact about Almora is that while almost all hill stations were discovered and developed by British, Raja Kalyan Chand founded Almora in the year 1568 when he transferred his capital from Champawat to Almora.
Legend has it that about 500 years ago Raja Kalyan Chand, then the ruler of Kumaon with its capital at Champawat, was riding hard in pursuit of prey on this horseshoe shaped spur. The hunted quarry saved itself by taking refuge in a thicket of Kilmora - a wild bush - and revealed to the royal hunter the site of his would-be capital. The origins of settlement in Almora may have been different but the story continues to hold sway in the minds of many of the locals. Bounded by the Kosi and Suyal rivers, the local of the new capital was well suited strategically. Till the Gurkha onslaught, in the last decade of the 19th century, Almora remained well protected naturally.
Almora stands at a height of 1,638 meters. It has a moderate and salubrious climate. The best season is April-June and September-November. For those interested in snow views the best time to visit is in early summer and autumn. The rainy season is also very pleasant here.
Almora is situated in the midst of the Himalayas, the king of mountains and abode of the gods. From time immemorial people have visited this region for peace, solitude and liberation of the soul.
Almora is a good place to conveniently enjoy the spectacular snowscape of the central Himalayas. On a clear day - and most days in Almora are flawless - you can see forever and almost every peak. Almora allows you to enjoy the mighty Himalayas together with ridge after ridge of hills painted in different hues of blue and green. The terraced fields, the stone slatted barrack-like village houses have so far put up a valiant fight against the encroachments of urban expansion and destructive development.
Almora also has some beautiful health resorts. The chief among them is Ranikhet (1,829 meters). Ranikhet literally means queen's field. It is said that a Rani camped here once and gave this name to the city. During the days of the Raj, Ranikhet was a British cantonment.
There are a number of places of tourist interest around Ranikhet. Chaubatia is famous for its orchards; Tarikhet, eight kilometers away, was once the nerve center of the Freedom Movement. Mahatma Gandhi also lived here for a while; Majkhali presents a fascinating view of snowy peaks and Upat, about six kilometers from Ranikhet, has an exquisite golf course. Kausani, 32 miles from Almora, is situated at a height of 1,890 meters. An enterprising Englishman, Mr. Norman Troop, developed it as a tea garden. Binsar, about 32 kilometers from Almora is situated at height of 2,412 meters. The Chand Rajas used to camp here during summer. It offers a wonderful view of the Himalayas.
Bajinath, Almora Bajinath situated on the banks of the Gomti (a local river) in Garur Valley, is an idyllic place. It is famous for its 13th century temples. Jageshwar has a group of Shiva temples and is on the Almora-Pithoragarh road and is situated in a densely wooded beautiful narrow valley. The temples were constructed in the 13th century. They are a marvel to see for their artistic beauty and craftsmanship. Jageshwar is among the 12-jyotir lingas in the country.
Bageshwar and Sitalakhet are other places of interest. Bageshwar is one of the main camping sites for the journey to Pindari Glacier, which is situated at a height of 3,820 meters. Kafni Glacier is also close by (3,860 meters) and Sitalakhet is the new tourist resort on the Syahi Devi hill.
Almora has a museum that is a storehouse of information about the cultural heritage of Kumaon. There is a deer park on the outskirts of the city. The Nanda Devi temple in the heart of the city is a must for visitors.