The magic of Almora is something not quite experienced by as many travellers as have experienced Nainital, Mussoorie or Shimla. The pristine picture of the terrain of Almora region is green with a character, the undulating hills have curves with grace and the riverside scenery straight out of a Claude Monet painting. Just like a maestro cappucino, the magic is in the blend; in Almora the blend of these elements leaves a life lasting impression very distinct from any other hill station.
Mahatma Gandhi spent several fortnights in Almora and when he went there for the first time in 1929 (to recuperate from ill health), the widely travelled Father of the Nation known for speaking straight truth said:
In these hills, Nature’s hospitality eclipses all that man can ever do. The enchanting beauty of the Himalayas, their bracing climate and the soothing green that envelops you, leave nothing more to be desired. I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed, if equalled, by any of the beauty spots of the world. After having been for nearly three weeks in the Almora hills, I am more than ever amazed why our people need to go to Europe in search of health.<a – Mahatma Gandhi
The words of Gandhi reflect the surprise of a traveller with little expectations other than the healing touch of fresh air.
Famous Hollywood actress Uma Thurman (think Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction) spent a good part of her childhood at Almora. Little known fact is that her full name is Uma Karuna Thurman, two Hindi names succeeded by a German surname ‘Thurman’.
The genteel character of Almora with a soothing air has produced one of the greatest Hindi poet, Sumitranandan Pant (born at Kausani, near Almora)
Kausani, in the close vicinity of Almora is known as Sunrise capital of India, a spot from where best sunrise is witnessed and scores of people park themselves in Kausani and get up on a chilly winter morning with Tea mugs in hand watching the play of Sun over the playground of frosted mountains. The game lasts no more than a few minutes but the spell lasts forever.
Almora is home to most revered and interesting temples. A visit to Golu Devta temple at Chitai is an unforgettable sight. You would see tons of bells all the way, yes I mean Ghanta As you approach the temple, the lines of shops will be selling not just the prasad but also a Ghanta. Why… because the erstwhile King of Champawat, the Godly figure of Golu Devta likes bells. So this is one place where you can ring your own bell However, this is the starting of excitement; you would also find hand-written letters attached to the bells, sure written by ardent devotees as their request to the God. The letters are not folded, not anonymous but most are in an open sheet with name and address of the devotee. Somebody is requesting for good marks in exam while somebody is asking for a win in the court case and most are asking for money. I tried snooping more but couldn’t find any letter just asking for ‘happiness’.
V Resorts Almora is a picturesque place on the Almora – Kausani road, which combines the beauty of richest texture of green forest, curvy mountains, middle of a forest and frolicking river Kosi nearby. Being on the Kausani road, you see the same sunrise as you witness from Kausani (what difference 25 kms make to a sunrise). The organic farm on our private forest and a fish tank gets you the best fresh food nature offers. In the typical offbeat character and spirit of all V Resorts there is no loud music, no swimming pool and no Jacuzzi. Instead, there is a resort built in ethnic style harmonious with nature, lovely treks in every direction, balcony view of jungle with bird chirp and small animals, a well stocked library, indoor and outdoor games, a bonfire to go with your drink, a sunrise to get up to and a sunset to look up to. If you’re taken in and like to swish, we’ll give you a painting stand with a kit and you could discover that inspiration, not the perspiration brings out the artist in you.
Most of us in Delhi, Chandigarh and other big cities hit the road in search of hills whether on Uttarakhand side or the Himachal side and our time pressures make us push the brakes the moment we reach the hills.. why drive another 2 and a half hours to go to some place like Almora? Sure.….but when we’re hungry don’t we wait for for the right food to be cooked? When we visit somebody, do we visit the one closest or the one dearest At 9-10 hours from Delhi, Almora is much closer than Manali (13-14 hours), however preferences often follow perceptions. May be that’s one reason the beauty of Almora is pristine and untouched unlike a Nainital or Mussoorie trampled by zillions and littered with Chowmein shacks.
While coming back from Almora on a recent trip, the following lines just came out. Hope it captures my excitement:
Woods are sure dark and deep
I have to go just another mile to sleep
Lap of nature give lilt in my feet
Chirp of birds make morning so sweet
While there are matters urgent and steep
Who cares for tomorrow when today is on my beat