Friday, 19 August 2011

Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand

Pithoragarh is located in Uttarakhand, positioned in the centre of the western half of Soar Valley which bears a resemblance to the Kashmir valley on a small scale. Pithoragarh is known as the gateway to the Himalaya's from the north, as pilgrims trek through this town to the Kailas Lake in Mansarovar and Om Parvat. Pithoragarh has been expansively explained in a novel by American author Bradley Swift titled ‘From Pithoragarh to Pittsburgh’. 

Pithoragarh is a lovely place to begin your tour of the Himalayas. The valley of Pithoragarh has all that you would like to see snowcaps and glaciers, lakes, bubly rivers, dense conifer forests, and grassy alpine meadows. About one-third of Pithoragarh is perpetually covered by snow. It is comfortable to visit all round the year. One can enjoy a slew of adventure sports in Pithoragarh like hang gliding, paragliding, trekking, skiing, canoeing, river rafting and fishing.

The lineage of Pithoragarh can be traced to the age of Puranas when it flourished under different names, though no documents from that era has been recovered. What is known though, that Pithoragarh used to be an important stopover en route Kailasa Parbat. Ancient religious texts such as Rig Veda and Skanda Purana mention about the various tribes that inhabited the area. They were probably the first people to establish a human population in the area.

The first recorded history is from the time of the great Rajputa King Prithviraj Chauhan. It is said that when he expanded his kingdom, he named this place as ‘Rai Pithora’ since it was a Rajput tradition to name a place after settling there. Gradually, with time and usage, the name became ‘Prithigarh’ under the Chand and Katyuri dynasties. With the Mughal invasion, the linguistics further evolved and its present name of Pithoragarh became famous.

Pithoragarh has been ruled by many different dynasties and kings. After Prithviraj Chauhan 0came the Pala Dynasty in 1364 with Rajwar of Ukko Bharatpal conquering the Pithoragarh area. Till the end of 14th Century Pithoragarh remained under the control of the Pala dynasty. By this time, three generation of Palas had passed, with the kingdom extended from Pithoragarh to Askot.

A 1420 Tamrapatra (a brass plate inscription) states that the Pala dynasty was replaced by the Brahm dynasty of Nepal but it could not last long. Just after this, the Pala dynasty was re-established in Pithoragarh. In 16th Century, the Chand Dynasty took over from the Palas and in 1790 built a new fort to show their might. This fort today houses the Pithoragarh Girls Inter College.

However, Pithoragarh was soon under the British rulers and they merged it as a tehsil (an administrative section) under the Almora district for easier supervision. This provision remained till 1960 when Pithoragarh itself was made a district. Many British remnants such as the army cantonment, Church, Missionary school etc stand till date. In 1997, a new district of Champawat was created for better management from Pithoragarh by restructuring its boundaries.

Places to See:

Pithoragarh Fort

This beautiful fort, lies on the outskirts if the main town. The fort was made by the Gorkhas in 1789, the year when they took over the town of Pithoragarh. You have to climb a good deal to reach the top. From here you can clearly view Kali Kumaon, so it proves to be worth the effort. 


Jhulaghat is a small little town sharing its borders with Nepal. In fact river Kali acts like a natural border dividing India and Nepal. What makes Jhulaghat interesting is the hanging bridge over the river. It is because of this hanging bridge that the town is called Jhulaghat. There are markets on both sides of the border selling imported goods that you can buy at affordable prices. Another interesting thing you can do is to cross the bridge and visit bordering town of Nepal, called Baithari. Baithari has a bigger and better market place to shop around. 


Located at an altitude of about 2000 meters above the sea level, Chaukori is a quiet little but extremely beautiful hill town. Cradles in the lap of Himalayan nature, Chaukori is devoid of usual crowd found in hill stations. You don't even see many vendors here. However, what makes this place wonderful is its scenic beauty and the breathtaking views of surrounding snow capped Himalayan peaks that it offers.

Dhwaj Shikhar

This is an extremely revered temple located at an elevation of 2,100 m above the sea level near Pithoragarh. One has to cover a distance of 15 kms by vehicle and four kms on foot. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Jayanti. It offers a beautiful view of the Himalayan ranges.

Patal Bhubaneswar

It is very sacred and mysterious temple where the Sanctum Santorum is located in an underground cave. It is located at an elevation of 1, 350 m in the Himalayan Mountains. The main passageway releases into a number of tiny caves which have stone idol of Deities.

Sun Temple

It is another ancient temple located at the roads approaching from Lohaghat, Champawat and Devidhura meet. Though the image of the deity is disfigured, it still holds charm with clear pictures of the shoes and horses.

Maha Kalika Shaktipeeth

Located 78 kms from Pithoragarh at Gangolihat, Maha Kalika Shaktipeeth was specially chosen by Shankaracharya as a Shaktipeeth. Encircled by pine trees, the temple holds a mystery to a first time visitor; Goddess Kali is the main deity.

Narayan Ashram

Situated at an elevation of 2,734 m, the Narayan Ashram was instituted by Narayan Swami in 1936. Today, the Ashram has converted into an important socio- educational institution and attracts many scholars and Himalayan wilderness lovers from all over the country............

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