First, let us talk about where the word 'Kumaon' has been derived from. It shall surprise you to know that it has been taken from the 'tortoise incarnation of Lord Vishnu', who was the preserver of the Hindu Trinity. It goes by the name "Kurmanchal" or 'land of the Kurmavatar'.
If you take a look at the region, it extends from the northern end of the Gangetic plains and shall go all the way to Tibet. It comprises a mesmerizing collection of snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear shimmering lakes and a diverse variety of flora and fauna which shall stun you with its magnificent beauty on a repeated cycle.
Kumaon, located in the north-Indian state of Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) is separated from Nepal in the eastern region by the river Kali. In the northern background, you shall find the Kailash-Mansorvar region of Western Tibet whereas the Chamoli and Pauri districts of Garhwal region mark their presence by forming the boundary. In the southern region, Kumaon is surrounded by the districts of Bareilly, Rampur, Moradabad, Bijnor and Pilibhit.
History Of Kumaon
Kumaon has felt the presence of people for quite a long time. Proof of stone age settlements can be unearthed in this place, especially in the rock shelter at Lakhu Udyar. The paintings found here shall transport you back to the Mesolithic era. Let me carry you into the religious world of the temple of Katarmal. It is exactly opposite to Almora. However, when was this sun temple, which is not less than 900 years old, built? It was during the downfall of the Katyuri dynasty.
Nevertheless, did you know that the exquisitely carved doors and panels had to be shifted to the Museum of Delhi? This had to be done as a sort of precaution because the 10th-century idol of the presiding deity had disappeared. Give and take a few centuries, then the Chands of Pithoragarh became the most prominent dynasty.
The splendid temple complex at Jageshwar, with its amalgamation of a hundred and sixty-four temples, was erected in a grand manner by the Chand rulers over a span of two centuries. You cannot miss the tantalizing cedar forest surrounding the poignant carvings with a pure-hearted dedication to Lord Shiva.
Best Time To Visit Kumaon
When you focus on the climate of the Western Himalayan region of Kumaon, you shall come across frosty winters and summers shall leave you with a feeling of tranquility. Expect temperatures to drop below zero in the Greater Himalayas while it can shoot up to 32°C in the summer months.
How To Reach Kumaon
By Air: Keep your eyes open for the nearest airport which is Pant Nagar (Nainital). The summer season experiences the availability of frequent flights and Pithoragarh shall welcome you with an all-weather airstrip.
By Rail: The closest railway for Nainital and Almora is Kathgodam.
By Road: Kumaon is properly joined to a lot of important cities via road.
Trekking In Kumaon Valley
How many of you are adventure enthusiasts who shall be fond of trekking in the Kumaon valley? Let us introduce you to the paradise of trekkers in Kumaon's three distinctive trekking regions. Namely, the footsteps of the Himalayan region in the Nainital district as well as the lake portion; the hilly beds of Almora, Ranikhet, Kausani, Chaukori and Pithoragarh as well as the Himalayan glacier pavement of the Kumaon Hills.
We would suggest you the Nainital trek for soothing treks which is excellent for school children. As it is an amateur area for trekking, basic amenities are available in Nainital to make their experience a smooth one.
However, you think you are quite experienced to traverse into the proper wilderness? Then the hilly bedrocks of Almora, Ranikhet, Kausani, Pithoragarh and Chaukori shall satiate your trekking pangs.
Nevertheless, if you step into the Himalayan glacier area of the Kumaon Hills, the routes are tough nuts to crack but are not devoid of riveting riverbeds and rhododendron forests for a refreshing perspective.
This Kumaon region also gladly provides the perfect palette for ravishing sports like rock climbing, paragliding, river rafting and mountaineering.
Major Tourist Attractions In Kumaon:
At an altitude of 1938 m in the Kumaon hills, this hustling and bustling hill station is the stunning summer capital of Uttar Pradesh. Naini Lake shall definitely pique your interest as it is said to actually represent one of the emerald green eyes of Lord Shiva's wife.
You can enjoy a joyous ride on the pedal boats on a calm and soothing summer evening. Imagine a chairlift coming your way and taking you to one of the most populous viewpoints on the radar such as the Snow View (2270 m).
Reach the peak and catch a glimpse of the mind-boggling Nanda Devi, at about 7817 m above sea level. Does the mesmerizing sunset tug at your heartstrings? There are splendid views from Hanuman temple, 3 km south of Tallital.
How about the state observatory? Ride a kilometre more to observe it but only on weekends.
Brisk walk your way up to the Jhula Devi Temple as well as gaze at the orchards located in Chaubatia (3 km). This is a comforting hill station at a height of around 1829 m which offers marvellous sights of the pristine white Himalayas, comprising the Nanda Devi too
Heard about the Kumaon regiment? This is an extremely important army town and actually the headquarters of the regiment of Kumaon. Not a very touristy place on the map, but none shall disturb your peace of mind and you can rejuvenate like a free bird.
This is one of the rare hill stations which was not built by the British and hence is a place a bit more appreciated than the rest. Resting at an altitude of 1650 m, it is deemed to be the capital city of the Chand rulers of Kumaon but how many years ago? 400 years. Travellers enjoy residing here and chilling for long months and also flaunt the reputation of being a "power centre".
This place is undoubtedly our 'miniature Kashmir'. It is in the easternmost hilly junction of Uttarakhand. Cradled in a small valley, which is 5 km long but only 2 km wide, the Chand rulers of Kumaon are again taken into consideration.
Pithoragarh is an exclusive landmark and contemplated as the 'Saur Valley'. At about 1650 m above sea level, one can actually seep in the breathtaking views of wide ranges of snow expanding from Trishul, Nanda Devi, Panchchuli Group and even the Mount Appi of Nepal! But this one only from Chandak Hill, at around 2000 m.
5) Jim Corbett National Park
This is the very first national park of India, cosied in the lap of the Himalayas, spreading over an area of 520 sq km and can you guess its distance from the city of New Delhi? Around 290 km. The poignant Ramganga river gushes via the entire park.
This park is also the most populous in terms of tigers. It also includes carnivores like the leopard, elephant, bear and the ferocious sambhar. The sly gharial and the swampy crocodile can be found lurking near the banks of the Ramganga.
You shall not be permitted angling activities in the interior of the National Park. The marvellous Mahseer shall be found in plenty here. Also, take out your binoculars and bring into perspective elephant safaris, jeep safaris and watchtowers.
The most awesome time to be here is the time period between November and May. A big no-no near the park entrance remains from mid-June until mid-November. Want to head here via the railways? Head towards Ramnagar some 51 km away and the nearest airport should take you to Pantnagar (110 km).
Has the Kumaon Valley attracted you deeply enough to urge you to make up your mind to be there as soon as possible?