Almora - City of heritage
Almora, a picturesque district in the Kumaun region, East of Uttarakhand in India, with a breathtaking panoramic view of Himalayas, summons tourists worldwide to its alluring grandeur of natural beauty.
Famous for its rich cultural heritage, unique handicrafts, sumptuous cuisine and magnificent wildlife, coupled with an easy accessibility, Almora promises its tourists a visit full of fun and unforgettable moments.
The town of Almora is situated over a horse saddle shaped ridge of a mountain. The eastern portion of the ridge is known as Talifat and the western one is known as Selifat. The market is at the top of the ridge where these two, Talifat and Selifat jointly terminate.
The market is 1.25 miles (2.01 km) long and is covered with stone slabs. The place of the present cantonment was formerly known as Lalmandi. Presently where the collectorate exists, the 'Malla Mahal' (Upper Court) of Chanda kings was located. The site of present District Hospital used to be 'Talla Mahal' (Lower Court) of Chand rulers.
Almora can trace back its history to several centuries. If one goes by religious books, the region finds its mention in the times of Mahabharata. The earliest historical account of the region is given by a Chinese pilgrim of seventh century who wrote in great detail about a kingdom called ‘Brahmaputra’.
Situated in the hills and surrounded by snow clad mountains, it was inhabited by a tough and uncivilized race initially.
A kingdom was established here for the first time by the Katyuris who ruled from Dwarahat in Katurya valley. At that time, Almora was a small village with not much political significance.
It was the Chand ruler (who ruled from Champawat in Kali Kumaon), Raja Kalyanchand who first laid the foundation of a town in 1563 giving it the name 'Alam Nagar'. This town at the time was also given the name 'Rajapur'. Needless to say, it was the earlier name Almora that persisted and is used till date.
Almora, which has over a hundred natural spring water sources, was an obvious choice for the Chands to establish a settlement. So much so that eventually, the new rulers transferred their capital to Almora.
In 1744 Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla, invaded Kumaon. The resistance put up by the Chands was inadequate and Almora was taken over.
In 1790, the Gurkhas conquered Almora and ruled it for 24 years.
On 26th of April 1815, Almora was captured by Colonel Nicholls of the East India Company and the whole region slipped into the hands of the British Empire. In 1884, the Britishers transferred their center of control of the Kumaoni hill region from Almora to Nainital. This diminished the importance of the town from a political point of view suddenly.
However, since independence, this town has grown by leaps and bounds and today, it is a primary center of all kinds of activities, be it political, cultural, social, eduational, etcetera in the Kumaoni hill region.
Since, ancient times Almora has been home to many great thinkers and social activists. Bharat Ratna Gobind Ballabh Pant was born and brought up in this town.