What a seeker wants in his trip – excellent charming view, decent accommodation stay and delicious cuisine, and Almora is the perfect destination for these types of Travelers. With the enchanting views of snow cover peaks of Himalayas, Almora also offers to know the culture and lifestyle of Kumaon peoples more closely. Traditionally built homestay, tempting Kumaoni cuisine, and folk of Kumaon will never spoil your expectations.
|Almora Hills (Pic credit)|
History of Almora
|Night View of Almora|
Intellectual who visit Almora
- Swami Vivekanand – The doyen of Indian philosophy Swami Vivekanand (1863-1902) visited Almora three times. It is said that he meditates in a cave near Kasar Devi Temple, and get enlightenment.
- Ravindra Nath Tagore – Ravindra Nath Tagore spent some time composing poems that will always rule the Indian hearts. In the summer of 1937, Tagore spent a very creative summer at Almora where he stayed at a bungalow which is now known as ‘Tagore House” or Tagore Bhavan, located in the cantonment area of Almora. It now houses the cantonment board office. In May and June 1937, Tagore stayed here and wrote his poems Akaash Pradeep, Sejuti, and Nobojaatok besides his book on science Bishwa Porichoy. A bronze inscription which has the face of the great poet and philosopher can be seen at the Tagore House.
- Udai Shankar – Almora was also the headquarter of Udai Shankar, the renowned exponent of Indian dances. Udai Shankar and his troupe became very popular among youngsters.
- Govind Ballabh Pant – Almora was also the hometown of the great freedom fighter Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant. Govind Ballabh Pant was born in a nearby village called Khoont and had his preliminary education in Almora. The Govind Ballabh Pant Public Museum on mall houses important historical letters from Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and others and others to Pant and is an institute of national importance which needs a little more care.
How to visit Almora:
- Air: 127 km from Almora, Pantnagar, is the nearest airport which is well linked with regular flights from Delhi.
- Rail: Kathgodam (90km) is the nearest railhead with a connection to Delhi, Howrah & Lucknow.
- Road: Buses connect Almora with Kathgodam, Nainital (66km), Ranikhet, Pithoragarh (122km) & Delhi (380 km) directly. There is also a direct connection to the Nepal Border, Banbasa(7 hours). Busses depart at a regular interval every half an hour for Kathgodam (3hour). It takes about 2 hours to travel from Nainital & 4 hours to Pithoragarh. In fact, road transportation is the most convenient way to travel to Almora. Private Jeeps and taxies are also available from Kathgodam and other places.
Places of Interest:
|Kasar Devi Temple|
- Kasar Devi: Kasar Devi is on the Kalmatia Hill, 8 km outside the town is believed to be the place of enlightenment of Swami Vivekanand in a small cave. From here one can see vast ranges of Himalayas. Here you can go for a Village walk, bird watching and try Yoga & Meditation. The calm and serene atmosphere takes you more closer to the way of spirituality.
- Nanda Devi Temple: One of the main attractions of Almora. This temple is almost a thousand years old which was built by Chand rulers. The images and statues on the walls of this temple are of exquisite beauty. Every year, the Nanda Devi Fair is organized in a big way.
Nanda Devi Temple
- Bright End Corner: 2 km on the main motor road. This place is famous for the excellent view of sunset and sunrise.
|Evening view of Sunset in Almora|
- Public Museum: Govind Ballabh Pant Public Museum is near the Bus Stand. This Museum provides a development of the art, cultural and lifestyle of this region. It has a rich collection of items relating to archaeological, historical and cultural significance. This museum has a unique collection of ‘Aipan’, a folk style of painting. It opens from 10:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the evening.
|Chitai Temple, Almora|
- Chitai Temple: 6 km away from the city. The temple of Chitai is dedicated to Golu Devta is surrounded by dense fir and pine forest, visited by thousands of devotees. Golu devta also known as God of Justice and also said that it is a unique seat of justice for locals. This temple has the great faith of Kumaonis. People write letters to God to fulfill their desires and in return, they hang bells in the temple. You can see thousands of bells hanging and ringing in the hill air, around the temple.
|Katarmal Sun Temple|
- Katarmal Surya Mandir: This is the only Sun Temple situated in this part of Kumaon and is 17 km on the Almora-Ranikhet road (3km on foot) across the river Kosi. This imposing Surya Temple (Bara Aditya) is situated at an altitude of 2116m, dating back to the 12th century with typical five-period sculpture. Many subsidiary shrines cluster, about 44 in no. around the main temple. This Sun temple is of historical insignificance second only to Konark Sun Temple.
|Jageshwar Dham, Almora|
- Jageshwar: 34 km away from Almora, this place amidst a dense Deodar forest has a group of almost 125 temples dating back from 7th to 11th century AD. The majority of the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and a few to different Goddesses. It is considered as one of the 12 holiest Jyotirlingas!
|Lakhudiyar Wall Painting|
- Lakhudiyar: Literally means one lakh caves. This is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the hills. Fascinating prehistoric rock paintings are discovered within the caves. It’s at a distance of 20 km from Almora. According to renowned historian Dr. Yashwant Singh Katoch, the year 1968 marked a significant milestone in the field of prehistoric rock shelter paintings in Uttarakhand, with the discovery of the Lakhu Udayar rock shelter. Situated on the right bank of the Suyal River in the Almora district, this site gained prominence as the first documented instance of such paintings in the region. Following this momentous finding by Dr. M. P. Joshi, additional rock shelters have been uncovered in various locations including Fadkanoli, Falsima, Lwethap, Petshal, Kalamati, and Malla Paneli within the Almora district. These rock shelters are geographically concentrated within a radius of approximately 15 kilometers in the eastern direction of the Kalamati-Dinapani mountain range. To date, over a dozen rock shelters have been brought to light in the Almora district, enriching our understanding of prehistoric artistic expressions in the region.
- Dunagiri: Nestled in the lap of Kumaon Himalayas, Dunagiri is a small hilly town away from the hustle-bustle towns and is a perfect place for solitude seekers. It is an amalgamation of beauty, culture and spirituality, which provides solitude to the tourists & travelers. Here you can go for trekking, village walk etc
Famous Sweet, traditional dresses, and art & culture of Kumaon
|Bal Mithai & Singori|
Sweet & Dishes
|Picture Credit: Uttarakhand_wedding|
Pichaura is a garment worn at ceremonial occasions in Uttarakhand. From the bride to great-grandmother, every woman in the family wears it on occasions be it namkarna or marriage, upanayana or mundane sanskar. It has a special significance and mandatory for all married women in the family or close relation. Another salient feature of Rangwali Pichhora is that it can be put on by widows also, those as per social traditions, they are not supposed to wear colourful garments.
In the centre, a ‘Swastik’ is drawn and in four quadrants of the swastika, Sun, Shankh (Crunch shell), A Bell with ‘Om’ and Goddess are drawn. The Swastik is made by drawing some geometrical drawings or leaves and flowers and then surrounded by small dots. Then dots of larger size are printed all over. This printing is surrounded by a beautiful border. After the border, lace and kinnari or jhala are stitched to make it more colourful, attractive, and lively.
Theses sketches drawn in the Pichaura have religious significance also. The Swastik represents all the gods and goddesses. It is drawn in some form or the other at all the religious rituals. It denotes the ‘karma yoga’. Its four arms pointing forward inspire to move ahead. The centre of Swastik is ‘Om’ which has great importance in meditation and spirituality.
The first quadrant of Swastik houses Sun, the god with great power. Sun is worshipped for well being of sons. The second quadrant houses Goddess for prosperity and well being of all nears and dears, the third quadrant has a ‘Shankha’ (Crunch shell) which is blown during worship and all the ill omen are understood to fear this sound and not dare to harm anyone around. The last quadrant has a Bell which is also used in worship.
In the olden days, it was made at home. A few meters of white cloth was washed and dyed first in yellow colour and then dots were printed with the help of a coin wrapped in cloth. Common colours available in the market were used for it earlier but now Rapid colours are being used. The homemade pichaura was printed with ordinary colours, which used to spread on getting moist. The process of drawing/printing by hand was very tiresome and sometimes the results were also not so good.
|Picture Credit: Minakriti|
Aipan is a traditional folk art specifically made by women of Uttarakhand. This art is done on the floor over the brick red background with a white paste made out of rice flour. The typical art is done on all special occasions and household ceremonies and rituals. It is believed that these motifs evoke divine power which brings good fortune and wards off evil.
Uttarakhand Aipan painting has its unique identity which is always done on the empty walls and on the ground which is a symbol of fortune and fertility. The art form is used to decorate floors and walls at the Puja room (place of worship) and the entrance of homes and practised by many other communities of the different regions. The Uttarakhand government will now promote traditional art and Uttarakhand Chief Minister has planned to make an Art from the State Art to create an artificial make-up of rice and grew at the time of Teej festivals, marriage and worship at home. Has started the initiative.
In spite of Aipan, the town also has a prominent handicraft and copperware industry and the shops in the markets are adorned with these beautiful artefacts.
Almora: The Cultural essence of Kumaon
14 responses to “Almora: The Cultural essence of Kumaon”
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