“What is it like to have spent your childhood in Hills?” Itsasked a friend to which I promptly replieIt’s the same. We have prolonged winter vacations and you folks of extended summer holidays”. Little did I realized then what a privilege it was to have been born in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. A place far away from dark hands of modernity, secured in the aura of its own and filled with inherent beauty everything pure enjoys. Imagine waking up witness the sight of snow-capped peaks of Panch Chulhi, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot.
Pithoragarh, also known as the “Little Kashmir” is one of the hidden pearls of Himalayas. Its distance from the mainland, twiddling roads and its hairpin bands can make even the most avid travelers nauseate. This remoteness of Pithoragarh is both its curse and blessing in disguise. At a distance of 505 km from Delhi to Pithoragarh, it is a treasure of ecological and sociological diversity. The word “Pithoragarh” literally translates into “A Treasure House Of Historical Fortification.”
Perched at an altitude of about 1675m, Pithoragarh is nestled in a lush valley, 5km long and 2km wide. The town was a key landmark of Chand Rulers of Kumaun. They built many monuments and temples and a magnificent fort which still is in good shape. The fort on the top of a hill, built by Gorkhas in 1789, gives a pictorial view of the town and its surroundings. Pithoragarh also has a historical name Soar Valley and is surrounded by four hills- Kundra, Thal Kedar, Dhwaj and Chandak The presence of glaciers and rivers provides an opportunity for sports like rafting, canoeing, and mountaineering.
Pithoragarh, the district headquarter, is a busy administrative and market town which acts as a gateway to Mountains. This easternmost district of the Kumaon also shares its border with Nepal to the east and Tibet to the north. The Pithoragarh district is a seventh heaven for the trekkers as the charming alpine meadows and glaciers like Milam Glacier (3,438 m), Namik Glacier and Sundardunga glacier are the wonders of the district. It is home to some of the most treks like OM Parvat Trek, Adi-Kailash trek, Treks to Darma Valley, Mansoraver Yatra to which it is quintessential, and many beautiful treks remain hidden in these peaceful valleys.
The pompous snow-covered peaks of Nanda Devi (east and west), Trishul, Nandakhat, Panchachuli group, Mount API of Nepal many other gives a magnificent view from Pithoragarh. It is the treasure trove for almost each kind of person who needs an escape, as it offers ample of opportunities for visitors, trekkers, bird watchers, bikers, cyclists, anglers, rafters, botanists, paraglide and also includes many religious destinations. The lush green forest is a habitat for rare flora and fauna. Theses words act as a lavish home for leopard, tiger, musk deer, and snow leopard and also includes a broad range of wildflowers and medicinal plants.
The Pithoragarh is also famous for its rich cultural diversities. The way of celebrating festival and various fairs and events adds more colours to its scenic beauty. The Jauljibi fair and festival, Lakhiya bhoot festival.
Events like Paragliding competition, rafting completion at national and international levels are main crowd pullers.
History of Pithoragarh
The town is set in a valley named Soar (cool) which is surrounded by four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar. This town is the northern gateway to the Himalayas pilgrims trek through this town to Kailash Lake Mansarovar, Om Parvat.
Pithoragarh was ruled by the three generations of Pals for the whole 14th century after 1364. Then Gyan Chand replaced Pals after defeating them in 1445 and in 16th century, the Chand dynasty again took control over Pithoragarh town and built a new fort in 1970 where Girls Inter College is situated at present.
One Chand Rajas of Kumaun named Prithvi Gosain built fort here and named it Prithvigarh which changed into Pithoragarh in course of time. Pithoragarh was the capital of Gujjar- Rajput Prithviraj Chauhan. The current living King of Kumaun is Raja Mahendra Chand of Lamakhet.
Places to visit in Pithoragarh-
Tourist attractions abound in the form of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and historic temples. This area has great potential for developing into an adventure tourism destination.
Chandghat is a small and beautiful place; it is a famous hill for housing temple dedicated to the Hindu deity ‘Manu.’ At this location, a goddess killed two devils, Chand and Mund, at this place. This episode gave the place name Chandghat which is later misinterpreted as Chandghat.
This is the best spot for hand gliding, and the view of Himalayas is mesmerizing from here.
Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary is spread across an area of 600 sqm. Km, it is the home of various species of flora and fauna inculdes animals like Musk deer, Leopard, Brown Bear, Jungle Cat and migratory birds can be found here.
Kapilehswar Mahadev Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated about ten mts. Inside a dark cave. It is believed that a sage named Kapil used to meditate in this cave.
Nakuleshwar Temple is an architectural jewel in Pithoragarh as it has around 38 images of Hindu goddesses ad gods.
Pithoragarh Fort was built during the region of the Chand Kings and was reconstructed by Gorkhas in 1789. In spite of its dilapidated conditions the location is surrounded by some scenic views of valleys. Visitors can also enjoy the view of Kali Kumaon from the fort.
Thal Kedar is situated at an elevation of 880 mts. that is reached through a narrow pathway. The temple of Lord Shiva is mentioned in the ancient text of Skanda Purana which is situated here. This place is famous for its scenic beauty and holy Shiva Linga which is approximately 1,000 million years ago.
Arjuneshwar Temple is famous for Lord Shiva temple which was built by Arjun one of the Pandavas. This place should be visited from April to July.
Dhwaj Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Jayanti. This place is the home of snow leopards and Himalayan black bears. The snow-shrouded Himalayan peaks view can be enjoyed from here.
Excursions from Pithoragarh:
Once you reach Pithoragarh, then you can visit and travel some temples and tourist spots get to see some Patal Bhuvneshwar, Kusani, Chaokori, Jaulgibi, Tawaghat, Dharchula, Narayan Ashram, Madkot, Munsiyari.
Activities to do in Pithoragarh
Pithoragarh is blessed by nature with all beauties. It provides adventurous sports like white water rafting, skiing, canoeing and hand- gliding. Pithoragarh has plenty of glaciers, beautiful lakes, fabulous watrefalls and great rivers. Pithoragarh got some othe most beautiful peaks of Himalayas like Nanda Devi East, Trishul, Panchchuli, Nanda Kot, Nanda Pal, Rishi Pahar etc.
Places to stay in Pithoragarh:
Pithoragarh has many hotels, many of which are listed online. The Zara Residency, which is located in the cantonment area, is a good option. It provides an excellent view of the valley. The KNVN, Pithoragarh is another good choice, they also offer packages that include adventure activities. For the budget travelers, KNVN has a first dormitory which provides Rs 200 per bed.
Best time to visit Pithoragarh
The best time to visit Pithoragarh is throughout the year as the weather of Pithoragarh remains salubrious throughout the year and its beauty heals every tension and stress of every living being. So if you are visiting in summers take light woolen clothes and for winters take heavy woolen clothes.
December to March is for those people who like snowbound vacations.
April to August is for those who want to spend relaxing moments in the outdoors and want to visit temples.
September to November is good for those who want sight seeing and catch beautiful sceneries.
How to Reach:
Nearest airport– If you are planning to take flight, then the nearest airport, in that case, Pantnagar, which is 250 km away from Pithoragarh.
Nearest railhead– If you are planning to take a train, then you can either get down at Tanakpur then one can take a bus to Pithoragarh. The distance between both the places is 150 km, and another way is that you directly reach Kathgodam and from Kathgodam you can take a bus, and the total distance between them is 200 km. Regular Cabs/ Buses leave for Pithoragarh from Haldwani after every hour.