Himalyan view from Pithoragarh
|Elevation||1,514 m (4,967 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Pithoragarh is a small town, which gives its name to the district. It lies in the centre of the western half of the Soar Valley which resembles the Kashmir valley on a miniature scale. It is prettily dotted with villages, generally placed on eminences. The view from some of the higher altitudes in Pithoragarh captures the snow-capped peaks of Panch Chulhi, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot.
The town is set in a valley popularly known as "Soar" (root meaning is Cool) and lies in the centre of four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar, and stretches in the southern flank to Jhulaghat demarcated by the Kali river adjoining the barren peaks of Nepal Hills. It is snuggled in the folds of four kots Bhatkot, Dungerkot, Udaikot and Unchakot.
Pithoragarh was the historical capital of the Gurjar-Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan. In 1841 Pilgrim (Barron), while passing through Pithoragarh, wrote : "... The first view of Pithoragarh is striking, in one instant, when you reach the top of the pass (Chandak) which overlooks it, a wide valley bursts on the view, with the small neat military cantonment, fort and scattecyan villages, and meandering streams, which distribute fertility to thousands of well-cultivated fields.... I was apprehensive, too, that the beauties of Nainital had exhausted the store, and found that I was never in my life more mistaken."
After its conquest by the Rajwar of Uku Bhartpal in 1364, Pithoragarh was for the whole of the remaining 14th century ruled by three generations of Pals. The kingdom extended from Pithoragarh to Askot. According to a tamrapatra (brass plate inscription) dating back to 1420, the Pal dynasty was uprooted by the Vijay Brahm of Brahma (Bum) dynasty of Nepal but subsequently, following the death of Gyan Chand in a conflict with Kshetra Pal, the supremacy of Pal dynasty was restored.
It is believed that Bhartichand, an ancestor of Gyan Chand, had replaced Pals, the ruler of Pithoragarh, after defeating them in 1445. In the 16th century, the Chand dynasty again took control over Pithoragarh town and built a new fort, in 1790, on the hill where the present Girls Inter College is situated. Subsequently, under the British rule, Pithoragarh remained a tehsil under Almora district until it was elevated to a district in 1960.
The district is named after its headquarters town, Pithoragarh. Tradition has it that during the reign of the Chand Rajas of Kumaon, one Piru, also called Prithvi Gosain, built a fort here and named it Prithvigarh which, in the course of time, got changed into Pithoragarh."
Places of interest
Once the bastion of the Chand rulers, Pithoragarh town is home to many temples and forts belonging to that era.
The town had two forts, one of which has been demolished, its place being taken by the Government Girls’ Intermediate College building. The building of the other fort houses the treasury and the tahsil.
Other places of interest in Pithoragarh are Patal Bhuvaneshwar (Gangolihat), Chandak, Dewalthal, Dharchula, Munsiyari and Kali Mandir of Gangolihat. Kumaon University College is the main educational institution in the district for higher studies.
About 5 km. from the place, there is a small and beautiful place named Chandag which houses an asylum for lepers. It is said that a goddess killed two devils, Chand and Mund, at this place. The episode gave the place the name Chandghat, Chandag appearing to be its corruption.
Pithoragarh Fort: It is set atop a hill on the outskirts of the town. The fort was built by the Gorkhas in 1789.
Kapileshwar Mahadev (3 km): The cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva affords a fine view of the Soar valley and lofty Himalayan peaks.
Maharajke Park: This park was built by Indian Military in the memory of soldiers died in Kashmir and gives a lovely view of surroundings, mainly small peaks covered with only grass and bushes having almost no trees; it is a lofty park with adequate area and a small canteen. Many visitors from Pithoragarh and surrounding places visit there for holidays like New Year parties etc.
Kamakhya Devi Temple: Another beautiful site, the temple of Kamakhya Devi, situated at the top of small hills near the town. It also gives a majestic view of surrounding valley and a peaceful place for one to leave the worldly up-downs for a moment.
Sumeru Resort: Beautiful site and complete entertainment on the lap of nature with modern facilities.
- Ashur chulaa:
The scenic sanctuary 20 km from Pithoragarh nestles at a height of 7250 ft.
- Chandak (8 km):
The beautiful hill affords a fine view of the Himalayas elevated at 6500 ft. The Mostamanu Temple here is highly revered by the locales.
- Dhwaj Temple:
This famous shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Maa Jayanti and is 10 km by road and 4 km on foot from Pithoragarh. it is elevated at 8200 ft. It also commands a breathtaking view of the snow-capped peaks. It is a safe haven for snow leopards, Himalayan black bears.
- Thal Kedar (16 km):
This Shaivite pilgrim site is also known for its scenic splendour. Its elevation is 8220 ft During the annual fair of Shivratri large number of devotees flock to Thal Kedar. You can enjoy a trek from Pithoragarh City or Aincholi or Nakuleshwara temple.
- Nakuleshwara (10 km):
It is believed that Nakuleshwara Temple was built by Nakul and Sahdev (two brothers of Pandavas). The place is located at Athgaon Shilling area.
- Askot Sanctuary:
The scenic sanctuary 54 km from Pithoragarh nestles at a height of 5412 ft. in Kumaon Himalayas and is popular among wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is a safe haven for snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, musk deers, snow cocks, tahra, bharals, mona/s, chirs, koklas, pheasants and chukors. The lush sanctuary area dotted with temples is also a fine place to view the beauty of the Himalayas.
The small hill town affords balmy weather and great views of snow-clad peaks. The entire area teems with tea gardens and orchards. It is 112 km from Pithoragarh via Gangolihat and Berinag. Chaukori Trekking Routes. Following are the three popular trekking routes. 1. Chaukori – Berinag – Patal Bhuwaneshwar – Gangolihat (3 days). 2. Chaukori – Kotbaniya – Dharmghar – Gangolihat (3 days). 3. Chaukori – Thal – Pithoragarh (2 days)
The sacred site is famous for the Hatkalika Fair held on the Ashtami of Chaitra month at the Kalika temple. Devotees visit the shrine during this time with drums and flags to pay homage to Goddess Kalika.
This small town on the Indo-Nepal border is named after a hanging bridge on the Kali river. One can enter Nepal through this bridge. The small market here deals in Nepali goods and other electronic items.
- Narayan Ashram:
The ashram was established by Narayan Swami in 1936, about 136 km north of Pithoragarh and 14 km from Tawaghat. This spiritual cum-socio educational centre is set at an altitude of 2734 metres amidst scenic surroundings. It has a school for local children and imparts training to local youth. There is also a library, meditation room and samadhi sthal.
A quaint little town on the banks of river Kali, it is a stopover point en route the famous Mansarovar Yatra. A rope bridge connects India and Nepal. Local residents from both countries frequently cross over. As a result, the locals are well conversant in Nepali. Currency from both countries is easily accepted here.
- Patal Bhuvaneshwar:
Patal Bhubaneshwar, literally means the subterranean shrine of Lord Shiva. The cave temple is 91 km from Pithoragarh and 14 km north of Gangolihat. The way to the temple is through a tunnel which leads into the cavern through a narrow dark passage of water. The electrified sanctum sanctorum is deep inside the cave. The main passage also leads to several small caves where water oozing from limestone rocks have created various shapes arid figures. Some of them resemble various gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon. In fact cave temple complex is said to be the abode of thousands of deities and people believe that these deities were consecrated by Adi Shankracharya. Large numbers of pilgrims visit the shrine during the fair of Maha Shivratri.
Munshyari a small Himalayan township about 127 km north of Pithoragarh and 66 km from Jauljibi. It nestles at an elevation of 2135 metres and the entire region is known as Johar valley. Munshyari is a base for treks to Milam and Namik glaciers. The trek from Munshyari to Milam Glacier, the source for Goriganga river is fascinating. Around Munshyari are alpine lakes of Maheshwari Kund and Thamri Kund. Munshyari Bugyal, an alpine meadow full of wildflowers is enchanting. Khalia Top and Betulidhar are suited for skiing.
- Chandraabhaga aincholi: Chandrabhaga is small mohalla in Pithoragarh district whose p.o. is aincholi is door of Pithoragarh town. From this place a panoramic view of Pithoragarh can be seen.
Pithorgarh is known for its unique culture. Sharadotsav has played the significant role in conserving and sharing this culture.
Sharadotsav in Pithoragarh in 2014
Sharadotsav in 2014 was organised by Nagar Palika Pithoragarh and District Administration from 1 November 2014. Men behind the program were Chairman Nagar Palika Shri Jagat Singh Khati, District Magistrate Shri Shemwal and Executive Officer of Nagar Palika Pithoragarh who entirely gave shape to the festival from concept to reality. Shri Ramesh Chandra Sharma (Erstwhile Principal) played the very important role is organising various musical events in Sardotsav. Various renowned groups such as Prince Dance group entertained the hill population. Famous Garhwali singer Gajender Sing Rana mesmerized the crowd with "Babli tero Mobile" Garhwali Song. Duplicate Dev Anand Kishore Bhanushali excited the event with his presence. Various dignitaries such as MLA Mayukh Singh Mahar, MP Shri Tamta Ji, and District Magistrate were present at various occasions.
Schools from the different part of district performed folk dances and songs. Various competitions like quiz and Mehndi were part of the Sardotsav. Vidushi Sharma won various prizes in Mehndi and Quiz competitions.
In popular culture
The small town has been extensively described in a novel by American author Bradley Swift titled, From Pithoragarh to Pittsburg.
How to reach Pithoragarh
Pithoragarh is connected to the outside world by road although it has a seldom-used air strip. Haldwani and Tanakpur are two entry points for entering Pithoragarh from plains. Both these places are connected by railway services. Regular state bus transport services along with private taxi services are available at both places.
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