One time capital of Kmaon, Almora was founded by Raja Balo Kalyan Chand of the Chand dynasty of rulers, in 1563 A. D., when he shifted his capital there from Champhawat, the seat of the earlier Chand kings. Almora, perched on a 5 km long horse saddle shaped ridge, is mentioned in the Skanda Purana as ‘a sacred mountain situated betwwn the two rivers Kaushika (Koshi) and Shalmali (Suyal).’ Surrounded by circle of hills, each with a little temple on top, Almora combines a rapturous view of the snow-covered peaks and lovely woods with a superb, invigorating climate, which enables the inhabitants to lead an out-door life almost all through the year. The four hill surrounding ranges, Banari Devi, Kasar Devi, Syahi Devi, and Katarmal, are covered with thick, clam and unraveled forests with colorful valleys, while towering above are immense, gigantic glaciers and glistening peaks.
The considerations which impelled the Chand King to move were largely administrative and strategic. The Raja’s descendents however had little peace. In 1773, they had to fend off the marauding Rohillas, and savage battles were fought between Garhwali Rajputs and the foe. The Rohillas were defeated and driven out of India by the British but they had hardly left when the Kumaonis faced a stronger foe-their neighbours-the Gorkhas from Nepal. From 1790 to 1815, Almora was under their rule. The deposed Chand king finally sought the help of the British who after the Nepalese suguali War of 1816 forced the Gorkhas out getting, in return, a large part of Garhwal, including Almora.
The town and the civil and military station are built on a bare saddle-shaped ridge running north-west to south-east for about 5km with an elevation varying from 1,575 to 1,675 meters. The station is connected with the higher ridges of Simtola (1,850m) and Kalmatiya (19,950m) to the west by col called Mount Brown of Hiradhungi, so called form its micaceous rock which shineslike a diamond (hira) in the morning sun. a lateral ridge called sitoli runs westwards from HIradhunga towards the Kosi river and exactly faces Almora to north. On the east and south the Almora hill is almost a peninsula connected with the other hills by the Kalmatiya ridge. When the heat is reflected from the bare gneiss rocks and the white dust from the road they alternately roast and blind the traveler. The road between Almora and Ranikhet was built in 1872-73, and then it was known as the Cart road.
The general appearance of the town is compact and clean and the conservancy arrangements seem to be well carried out. Beyond where the north-eastern gate was, rises the old for t almora, in the enclosure of which are situated the treasury and civil courts. Beyond this, the top of the ridge is somewhat hollowed out and the space is occupied by a bazaar, the office of the sub-collector of revenue and the Lala Bazar. Here also, on the site of the former residence of the Rajas of Kumaon, is the new Mission school, opened in 1871, a fine building in Tuscan style.
On both sides of the town on the north-western and eastern slopes, the hill side is adorned with very isolated native houses and also villages embosomed in orchards of tun, walnut, Australian jack and apricot. The eastern side is less wooded owing to the greater steepness of the mountain face.
The tradition regarding the transfer of the Chand capital here also points to Almora as being then covered with timber. The oaks on Kalmatiya are of stunned growth, and the pines only attain a respectable size on the northern aspect of the ranges’ he real reason for the abandonment of Champawat was doubtless its distance from the other conquered places by Chand rulers and far more valuable possessions to the west.
How to reach Almora
The nearest airport for Almora is Pantnagar (127 kms).During the summer regular flights are operational.
Nearest railway station is Kathgodam (90kms).
Distance from Almora are – Lucknow (466 kms), Dehradun (412 kms), Nanital (71 kms), Delhi (382 kms), Bareilly (205 kms), Kathgodam (90 kms), Pithoragarh (122 kms), Haridwar (357 kms), Haldwani (96 kms)