8856 sq. km
Hindi, Kumaoni, English
Pithoragarh is in the inner Himalayas at a height of 1,851 meters in a spectacular valley, called "Little Kashmir", in the northern state of Uttaranchal. Some parts of the district are at a height of 3,000 feet while the others are at 4,724 meters. The area of the district is 8,856 square kilometers and one-third of it is covered by snow perpetually. It is the main town of a region that borders both Nepal and Tibet. Pithoragarh has a cool climate, which makes it comfortable all year round. Pithoragarh, till recently, was part of Almora district, in Uttar Pradesh. It was given the status of a separate district on February 1,1960.
Fairs & Festivals
Pithoragarh is famous for its cultural-religious fairs. These are celebrated throughout the year. They are deeply rooted in the history, tradition and culture of this area. People celebrate them with gay abandon. Some of these fairs also serve the purpose of trade fairs.
At Jaul Jibi, a fair is held every autumn when woolens, copper pots and small, shaggy-maned Himalayan horses are bought and sold.
There are a number of lakes around Pithoragarh. Two of them,Jolingkong and Anchherital are situated at a height of 4,634 meters and 3,658 meters, respectively. Some beautiful old temples are also scattered around the district. A visit to the shrine atPurnagiri, 20 kilometers from Tanakpur, is believed to lead to fulfillment of one's desires. There is also a Sikh shrine near Lohaghat called Ritha Sahib, associated with the visit of Guru Nanak. It is believed that the bitter ritha turned sweet after the touch of the Guru.
The white Manu temple is also an oft visited site. In it, is enshrined a powerful goddess known to bring rain to these mountains if properly invoked. There is also a large swing erected on the field at the base of a flight of steps leading to the temple. Here the goddess and her sister from a distant temple swing playfully when the other goddess comes visiting. No one can see them, but the swing moves!
Places Around Pithoragarh
Baleshwar is 76 kilometers from Pithoragarh on the Tanakpur road. Its temples are the best examples of hill architecture. They were constructed by the early Chand rajas in the 8th century. At Gangolihat, 77 kilometers from Pithoragarh, is a Shakti peeth established by Adi Shankaracharya. The temple stands amidst a dense deodar forest. Two kilometers away is another temple - that of Chamunda Devi. It is believed that the evil forces conquered by the Goddess still dwell in the adjoining caves. Patal Bhubaneshwar, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is 14 kilometers from Gangolihat. The way to the temple is through a tunnel. Chemical reactions in the cave have given rocks the appearance of various Gods and Goddesses.
About 30 km from Pithoragarh on the crest of a ridge, is a market proclaiming Panchuli View. On looking straight ahead and one can see, rising against the distant, blue, sky the five snow-covered peaks of Panchuli. About 62 km from Pithoragarh, is Lohaghat, an important historical center. About 2 km from here one can visit Abbot Mount and Mayawati. Abbot Mount is noted for its exceptional view of the northern hill ranges. A number of bungalows of the British Raj can still be found here. Mayawati, houses the headquarters of the Adwait Ashram. It was sanctified by Swami Vivekananda and is known for its scenic locales.
Chandak, 7 km from Pithoragarh, is a beautiful location, commanding a panoramic view of the Pithoragarh valley. It is 1.830 meters in altitude. An important fair is held at the Mostmanu temple in August. Thal Kedar, 16 km, from Pithoragarh is an important religious center and also noted for its natural beauty. A large fair is held on Shivratri. Dhwaj, 28 km from Pithoragarh, commands a wide view of the majestic snow-peaks of the north. It is also important for temples devoted to Lord Shiva and Maa Jayanti.
Champawat, 76 km from Pithoragarh, was once the capital of Chand Rajas, whose fort now houses a government office, the town has many architecturally beautiful temples. Of these, Baleshwar and Nagnath temples are noteworthy. Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam maintains a tourist bungalow at Champawat. At 2,500 meters above sea level, Devidhura is known for its scenic beauty and temple of Devi, site of an important fair. 14 km from Gangolihat is Patal Bhuvaneshwar, an important archaeological and religious site.
Punyagiri is at a distance of 20 km from Tanakpur. Perhaps, the most important religious center around Pithoragarh, Punyagiri temple, devoted to Maa Punyagiri, atop a rocky pinnacle is a noted pilgrimage. Accommodation facilities are available in the many dharamshalas. The Shiva temple at Rameshwarghat, 36 km from Pithoragarh, at the confluence of Ramganga and Sarju rivers is held in great reverence.
How To Reach
By Road - Various centers of Pithoragarh are connected with good metallic roads and regular transport service. There are buses to Almora, Nainital, Haldwani, Delhi and Tankapur. However, to reach some far-flung areas, one has to still use horses, ponies, mules, yak and sheep!
By Rail - The nearest railhead is at Tankapur, at a distance of 151 km south. The nearest airport is at Patnanagar, 249 km from Pithoragarh.