The name Almora brings a flood of memories. This is where I was born, this is where I spent my summer holidays, away from the blistering sun in the plains, and made many unshapely snowmen in the winters.Perched atop the five-kilometre long horse shoe shaped ridge of the Kashaya hill in the Kumaon reigon of Uttar Pradesh. Almora is one of the best places to be in during summer. Surrounded by dense forests of fur and pine trees, it is a visitors’ paradise. Believe me, nothing could be as magical as strolling down a winding road on the hills with the smell of pine filling your nostrils.
Besides the natural beauty of the place, the colourful attire of the local people who live on the slopes adds to the magic that is Almora.
A stroll into Lala Bazar or Chowk Bazar and a bite into the Singori or the Bal Mithai will give you a feel of the place and the people who live there.
While you are in Almora, don’t miss the sunrise or the sunset. The ideal place to view it from is the Bright End Corner, two kilometres away from Almora. Sip hot tea from the nearby circuit house as you watch the sun dip.
Don’t miss a trip to the river bank either. Nothing could be as invigorating as a walk on the bank of the Koshi or the Suyal which flow beside the city. Or you could take your kids on a picnic to the river bank.
Almora can be an useful base for you to explore other interesting places around. Check out the Chitai temple, eight kilometers away from Almora. Make a wish and if it gets fulfilled, you can come again to add a little wish bell to the thousands already hanging in the temple.
Or walk up to the Kasar Devi Temple, about four kilometres from Almora, from where you can get an excellent view of the northern Himalayan hill range.
If you are not tired of visiting temples, you could also try Katarmal which is seven kilometres away. An 800-year old Sun Temple, it is supposed to be the only other sun temple in India after Konark, Orissa. And like its original, it is well known for its intricate sculptures. Sadly, however, the temple is disintegrating and is badly in need of restoration now.
And then there is Jageshwar. About 34 kilometres away from Almora, it is well known for its Shiva temple situated among Deodar trees. It is one of the 164 other temples sprinkled all over the small town.
Before you end your trip to Almora, keep a day aside for the State Museum. It has a vast literature on Kumaon and its history.
Almora gets a steady tourist inflow as its weather remains largely pleasant throughout the year except during the rains. As rain draws a heavy blanket of fog which makes sightseeing an impossible task. The ideal time to visit is from April to June and from September to November.
Reaching Almora is easy. The nearest broad guage railway station is at Kathgodam, 91 kilometres away from Almora, trains are available connecting Delhi, Lucknow and Agra. Almora is also well connected by road to cities in Uttar Pradesh. The best way to access Almora is by bus so that you can enjoy the winding and spiralling roads that take you through deep valleys and dense forests.