Almora Knowledge Guide
Almora was founded in 1568 by Kalyan Chand during the rule of the Chand dynasty. Prior to that the region was under the control of Katyuri King Bhaichaldeo who donated a part of Almora to Sri Chand Tiwari. According to local tradition, the earliest inhabitants in Almora were Tewaris who were required to supply Sorrel daily for cleansing the vessels of sun temple at Katarmal. Ancient lore mentioned in Vishnu Purana and Mahabharata present primordial accounts of human settlements in the City. The Sakas, the Nagas, the Kiratas, the Khasas and the Hunas are credited to be the most ancient tribes. The Kauravas and Pandavas of the Hastinapur royal family were the next important princes from the plains who are said to have affected the conquest of these parts. After the Mahabharata war the district seems to have remained for some time under the sway of the kings of Hastinapur whose authority was never more than nominal. The actual rulers were the local chiefs of whom the Kulindas (or Kunindas) were probably strong in the southern and western part of the city. The Khasas were another ancient people who belonged to an early Aryan stock and were widely scattered in those times. They gave this region the name Khasadesha or Khasamandala. The next age's silent of them may probably be the ones signaling many petty states, rivaling each-other for supremacy and ultimately chartering the inauguration of the noted and enduring dynasty of Chands. Earlier to this, the Katyuris are recorded as the dominant clans in copper and stone engravings. The Chand dynasty from their inception in 953 A.D. to their ouster in the late 18th century present a saga of strife, with horrifying series of wars with rulers of Garhwal culminating in the destruction of this prosperous land and establishment of inglorious Gurkha rule. This dynasty was peculiar in that it made Almora the seat of strongest hill power in 1563 A.D. From that time onwards, the limits of kingdom of Kumaon extended over the entire tracts of districts of Almora and Nainital. Towards the end of the 17th century, Chand Rajas again attacked the Garhwal kingdom, and in 1688, king Udyot Chand erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer and Parbateshwer, to mark his victory over Garhwal and Doti. The Parbateshwar temple was renamed twice, to become the present Nanda Devi temple. In 1791, the Gorkhas of Nepal while expanding their kingdom westwards across Kali River, invaded and overran Almora. In the meantime, the British were engaged in preventing the Gorkhas from over-running the whole of the northern frontier. The Gorkha rule lasted for twenty-four years. Due to their repeated intrusion into British territories in the Terai from 1800 onwards, Lord Moira, the Governor-General of India, decided to attack Almora in December 1814, marking the beginning of the Anglo-Gorkha war. The war that broke out in 1814, resulted in the defeat of the Gorkhas and subsequently led to the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816. According to the treaty, Nepal had to cede all those territories which the Gorkhas had annexed to the British East India Company. After the war, the old Lal Mandi fort, near Almora was renamed ‘Fort Moira’. Unlike the neighboring hill stations like Nainital and Shimla which were developed by the British, Almora was developed much before by the Chand kings. The place where the present cantonment is located was formerly known as Lalmandi. Presently where the collectorate exists, the 'Malla Mahal' (Upper Court) of Chand kings was located. The site of present District Hospital used to be 'Talla Mahal' (Lower Court) of Chand rulers. Almora had a Population of 8596 in 1901.
Almora has many notable temples, including Kasar Devi, Nanda Devi, Doli Daana, Shyayi Devi, Khakmara, Asht Bhairav, Jakhandevi, Katarmal (Sun Temple), Pataal Devi, Raghunath Mandir, Badreshwar, Banari Devi, Chitai, Jageshwar, Binsar Mahadev, Garhnath and Baijnath. Kasar Devi temple was visited by Swami Vivekananda and this area has a Chabad House. Rudreshwar Mahadev Temple, near Sanara Ganiya, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is beside the river Ram Ganga. A sun temple (only the second in the world) is at Katarmal, a short distance from the town. The famous temple of Manila Devi, Devi Maa, the family goddess of the Katyuri clan, lies around 85 km from Ranikhet. Udaipur a famous temple of Golu devta is 5 km. from Binta near Dwarahat. Dunagiri has the highly revered temple of Shakti or Mother Goddess. Dunagiri is known as the birthplace of modern-day Kriya Yoga. There is a very famous and notable temple in Almora district which is in the village of Chaura near Bhaisor Gaun, Someshwar. This temple is dedicated to lord Golu who is considered as a lord of justice in Uttarakhand. This temple is about 40 km from Almora town. Another very famous temple of Almora district is Airdau which is in Someshwar. Someshwar is a small town in Almora district, which is very rich in agricultural way. Pandu Kholi is another famous and ancient temple in Almora district. According to Hindu mythology Pandvas spent some time here to escape from Duryodhana. The distance of this temple from Almora is about 80 km. Another very ancient and holy Shiva temple in Someshwar town is known as Khakeshwar Mahadev temple. It is in Bhaisor Gaun village, on the bank of a river.