Pithoragarh district is the easternmost Himalayan district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is naturally landscaped with high Himalayan Mountains, snow-capped peaks, passes, valleys, alpine meadows, forests, waterfalls, perennial rivers, glaciers, and springs. The flora and fauna of the area have rich ecological diversity. Pithoragarh has many temples and ruined forts from the once flourishing reign of the warrior Chand Kingdom.
Pithoragarh town, which is located in Saur Valley, is its headquarters. The district is within the Kumaon division of Uttarakhand state. The Tibet plateau is situated to the north and Nepal is to the east. The supporter of the Chand rulers, Pithoragarh town is littered with temples and forts belonging to that era. The town is set in a valley popularly known as and lies in the centre of four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar. Pithoragarh has quite a number of important places of interest to attract tourists. A magnificent fort, the Pithoragarh Fort stands tall in Pithoragarh construct by the Gurkhas in the 18th century. Located on the outskirts of the city is a cave temple known as Kapileshwar Mahadev is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
History of Pithoragarh
Pithoragrah has been referred as ‘Rai Pithora‘ by the dynamic Rajput King, Prithviraj Chauhan. In 1364, after being defeated by Bhartpal, the Rajwar of Uku (now in Nepal), Pithoragarh was reigned for the rest of 14th century by the three generations of the Pal dynasty and the kingdom was annexed from Pithoragarh to Askot.
It is believed that in 1445, Bharti Chand had defeated the ‘Bams’ or Brahms who were the rulers of Pithoragarh and the Chand dynasty dominated the Pithoragarh town.
Places to Visit in Pithoragarh
The town is the north entrance to the Himalayas and gives way to the important pilgrim spots of Kailash and Om Parvat and the holy lake Mansarovar. Due to its location among the hillocks of the mighty Himalayas the town is a popular tourist destination and is famous for its old forts and temples. list of the best places you can visit in Pithoragarh.
Chandak: Chandak refers to a hill that is famous for housing a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity ‘Manu’ and is situated at a distance of 8 kilometers from Pithoragarh. The location is one of the best spots for hang gliding and the magnetite mining factory is also located near the valley.
Askot Sanctuary: It is known as the Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary, it is spread across an area of 600 sq kilometers. The elevation of the area differs from 600 meters to 7000 meters above sea level and is a home to various species of flora, fauna and avi-fauna. The various species of wildlife like The Musk deer, Leopard, Brown Bear, and Jungle Cat etc with a plethora of various resident and migratory birds can be found here.
Ralam Glacier: One of the major Himalayan glaciers, The Ralam Glacier is located at an altitude of approximately 2,300 meters above sea level. The glacier is one of the popular trek routes in Uttrakhand and attracts several tourists each year. The maximum height of the trek is 3,900 meters above sea level and can be covered in 8-10 days.
Jhulaghat: Jhulaghat is located at the Indo-Nepal border and is located 36 kilometers from Pithoragarh. The town is best visited during winters where the climate is cool and the views of the valley are amazing. The Kali River that flows through the town is one of the major attractions of the town and is also known for its rafting spots.
Pithoragarh Fort: Pithoragarh Fort was built during the reign of the Chand kings and was reconstructed by the Gorkhas in 1789. The fort is located on a hilltop near the outskirts of the Pithoragarh town. Even though the fort today is in ruins and most structures are in a dilapidated condition the location offers some scenic views of the surrounding valley.
Thal Kedar: A pilgrim spot that is reached through a narrow pathway, the Thal Kedar is nestled at an elevation of 880 meters above sea level. The place is famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is mentioned in the ancient text of the Skanda Purana. The location also offers some really amazing views of the valley and is attracts several tourist during the festival of Shivratri every year.
How to Reach Pithoragarh
By Air: The nearest airport to Pithoragarh is the Pantnagar Airport situated 241kms from Pithoragarh in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand state.
By Rail: The nearest railhead to Pithoragarh is Tanakpur at a distance of 138kms.
By Road: Pithoragarh is well connected by metallic roads with all major destinations of Uttarakhand. Buses from ISBT Anand Vihar, New Delhi are available to Pithoragarh, Champawat, Almora, Tanakpur and many other destinations.