Almora

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Almora is the cultural capital of Kumaon, at a height of 1646 m. In 1645 the capital of the Chand rulers was shifted from Champavat to Almora. Walk thru the bazar, enjoyable. It is a biggish town as compared to other places. It is a good base to travel around. U see Nanda Devi Mandir ie part of the main market area. Bright End corner is famous for sunset and sunrise. I did not find the sunset impressive.

Swami Vivekananda spent a lot of time in Kumaon. The Ramakrishna Mission is involved in various dharmic work across the region for the benefit of all. U see the Vivekananda Institute of Hill Agriculture entrance. It is engaged in hill-agricultural research. It is a multi-crop n multi-disciplinary institute ie has so far released 120 varieties of 25 crops. To know more Click here

Stayed at Mall road in Hotel Shikhar. Very good. In Oct Rs 700/ for double room. Early morning view from hotel room. At cantonment one can see Tagore House where he lived in 1937, at Palton Bazaar where Yashpal wrote Jhoota Sach. At a house belonging to Badri Sah Thulgharia where Swami Vivekananda sojourned twice in 1890 and 1897.

From Almora key places are Sun Temple 17 kms, Govind Vallabh Pant Museum is enroute, Golu Devta temple Chitai, Kasar Devi temple whose board u see, Kalimat 4.5 kms away where u get a good view of town, Jageshwar Jyotirling 34 kms, Binsar 32 kms, Raniket 1.5 hrs. Kasar Devi temple established in 1948, many awakened people like Swami Vivekananda, Baba Shunyata meditated here.

On road to Binsar is Kasar Devi mandir that you see. From road is a 15-20 minute walk uphill, cemented walk way. Before the temple was made the rock that you see on the right of the pic was worshipped as an embodiment of Shakti. Walk way on left of pic takes you to Shiv temple.

U walk up further to reach the Shiv Mandir that u see in centre of pic. Per temple board it was founded by a South Indian Rudra in the 6th century. The whole place is very quiet and serene. Felt powerful spiritual vibrations as I entered the temple and around. There is a huge telecom tower close to the temple and many hotels on the Kasar Hill. Pray n hope that the beauty and sanctity of the place is retained.

Walked ahead of the Shiv temple when I met this Sadhu who lives in a small room that you see. Been living for years. We spoke as if had known each other for years, I was so happy being with him. Originally from Jammu he has been living in this region for many years. Made some lovely chai for me. As we stood outside his room and chatted felt in a different world. Wanted to spend the whole day on Kasar hill but Binsar, the next halt was calling.

Get a super view of the hills from Kasar hill. On the hill that you see in centre of pic is Sun Temple Katarmal ie belong to the 7th/8th century. The temple is highlighted by a circle. Drive to temple from main road is tough, walking up hill is easier. From where car drops you walk 15 minutes to the temple. As we stood outside his room and chatted felt in a different world. Wanted to spend the whole day on Kasar hill but Binsar, the next halt was calling.

A few minutes walk from where we were is Sharda Ashram ie part of the Ramakrishna Mission. As I said earlier Swami Vivekanada meditated at the Kasar Devi mandir and made many a sojourn to Almora.

This is a rear view of the Kasar Devi mandir, a nearly 2000 year old Durga Mandir. The rock, a natural cave, was given the form of a temple in 1948.

Kasar hill is on the route to Binsar. On the route to Jageshwar mandir is the Golu Devta temple in Chitai that you see. It is 8kms away from Almora. Devotees from far pray here asking for their wishes to be fulfilled. U see temple overview. ''Pre-eminently, Golu is also the god of justice—Supreme court se badhkar.''

Entrance to temple is full of bells. These are given by devotees. Left of entrance is where u remove shoes before going in. Beware of monkeys - if u have any eating item in hand or bag they will go for it. Golu Devata is thought to be as an incarnation of Gaur Bhairav (Shiva).

View of bells from the temple side. These bells are hung by devotees as offerings making a wish or in thanksgiving on fulfillment of one’s wish. To know more about Golu Devata Click here

In temple compound family having a snack. U can see two monkeys on left of pic. They would not allow the family to eat in peace till they gave a banana. Temple has lots of monkeys.

Devotees handwrite their wish and tie it to the bell. Some prayers are written on stamp paper. I was amazed, never seen anything like this before. Saw devotees of all ages.

A group of college students from Almora at Sun Temple Katarmal ie 17 kms away from Almora.