When it comes to Almora, the whole nation identifies the name with Swami Vivekananda. When Swami ji visited Almora for the first time, so enchanted was he with the serenity and holiness of this place, that he took a great initiative to construct the world-renowned Mayavati Ashram in Uttarakhand.But apart from this connection with a great 19th century historic figure of India, Almora is spectacular in it’s own right.
With the snow-covered mountain peaks surrounding the place, the calm flows of river Koshi and Suyal, and the treasured history and heritage that this quaint hill station possesses- Almora is one of the most important tourist destinations of Kumaon province.Unlike other hill stations of India, Almora was discovered by a ruler of Chand dynasty and then established as their summer capital.
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam and it’s located near Haldwani.From Delhi, you will get train services thrice in a day to Kathgodam station.You can hire shared Alto/Tata Sumo towards Almora from Haldwani taxi stand.The distance between the two places is approx. 90 KM.Ranikhet Express and Sampark kranti Express are some of the trains that operate between Delhi and Kathgodam.If you are coming from Kolkata, then you will get Bagh Express that starts off from Howrah on a daily basis, and it may take around 2 days to reach Kathgodam from there.
The fastest and costliest way to reach Almora is by plane. The nearest airport is Pantnagar, and it’s a 4-hour drive from Almora.Pantnagar airport is well connected by Delhi but you will get flights in every alternate day.Another way to reach Almora by flight is to- via Jolly Grant Airport that situated at the state-capital Dehradun.From there you will get taxis/private cars/buses towards Almora that is approx. 197 km away.
The best road trip towards Almora would be from Delhi. If you are coming by bus, then remember that ISBT Ananda Vihar, Delhi has regular bus services to Almora.If you are planning to go by car, then it may take around 12 hours through NH 87.
Places of attractions
Almora is sometimes called ‘town of temples’ so it’s obvious that the main attraction of this town would be numerous temples in and around this place.
Nanda Devi Temple
Situated at the heart of the town, Nanda Devi is believed to be the savior-goddess of Kumaon and once was the royal deity of ruling Chand dynasty. This ancient temple is has beautiful carvings on its walls that reveal the finest craftsmanship of Chand dynasty.
Even if you are not a believer, the cleanliness, the tranquility, and the green surroundings of this temple compound will enchant you.Jagehwar Dham consists of many ancient temples that are worshipped throughout Kumaon for their holy connections with Hindu mythology.But the main attraction is obviously the temple of Lord Shiva where- thousands of devotees come to offer puja in auspicious days. This place is situated around 32 km away from Almora and the journey from there to here is breathtakingly beautiful, with clear view of picturesque mountain ranges and pine trees to the both sides.
A shrine of worship for Golu Devta- Chitai Temple is one of its kinds in whole India.Golu Devta is believed to be the lord of Justice for the locals of Kumaon. They have immense faith on the fairness of Golu Devta and that’s why- everyday, hundreds of devotees visit this temple to make their wishes with honest intention, and write them on stamp papers before offering them to the deity!Once you enter to the temple premise, you shall be amazed to see so many bells that are tied around the perimeter of the temple by those, whose wish had been fulfilled.
Apart from the above three temples, the other interesting spots in Almora are – Gobind Vallav Pant museum, Kasar Devi temple, Zero point and many more.
What to eat
There are very limited places, when it comes to hang out with your companions with a cup of filter coffee or some snacks, in Almora.But Lali’s Inn is exceptional.Well loved by the local and foreign tourists alike- this homestay-cum-restaurant-shop is an exclusive place to have different types of cuisines like Continental, Indian, and Chinese.The warm and nice ambience is the biggest USP of this place.Baba Cake is also a cool joint for hipsters and kids, where you may have simple food like- varieties of cakes and hot beverages, in a soft but culturally thriving location.
In Almora, don’t forget to taste the delicious Kumaoni sweets like Ball Mithai, Singauri and Choklate!
What to shop for
Again, Lali’s Inn is a good place to shop for- locally made jam & jelly, organic soaps and essential oils, picture-postcards, books to name a few.Don’t forget to buy woolen garments and copperware from the local market at discounts.
Places of accommodation
If you wish to stay opulently amidst mountains, then Dalmatia Sangam Himalaya Resort is the place to be, for you.Imperial Heights is also a nice but expensive hotel in Almora.For mid-range travelers, Khanzachand Mansion and Kasaar Jungle Resort are two suitable choices.Savoy Hotel and Hotel Himsagar are apt for budget travelers.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Take a walk on the cobbled path of Lalal bazaar for it’s old world charm, remnants from the colonial era, and painted wooden shops.
- You can go for a trekking trip or tour around the nearby little hill stations like Kausani, Ranikhet, and Chaukori.
- Visit Kasaar Devi temple if you have backache. It’s a steep climb.
25 km from Almora, Binsaar wildlife sanctuary is a great natural habitat to go for trekking/ or staying amidst the Himalayan flora and fauna for some days.In Haldwani taxi stand, you need to bargain hard with taxi drivers, or else you will be charged with exorbitantly high fares.
For a quiet retreat in Himalayas, Almora would be the picture-perfect choice. With its snowy mountain ranges, thick forests and stunning views around; you will realize why more than 100 years ago, great Swami Vivekananda also fell for the charm of Almora.