Things to know before you plan a visit to Almora and Ranikhet in Uttarakhand
Almora and Ranikhet are two well-known hill stations in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Popular as one of the best hill stations in north India, these two destinations have a lot in common. Amidst the commonalities, both these places are sometimes taken as off-beat locations to unwind. Not affected by the tourism industry at large, unlike Dehradun, Mussoorie or Nainital, these beautiful destinations in the lap of nature has always been one of our favorites since childhood. When we visited these two beautiful destinations last week we were really excited to relive our memories again. As it’s the summer vacations and most of you plan your extended weekend plans, here are the things to know before you plan your visit to Almora and Ranikhet this summers.
Best time to visit Almora:
The best time to visit Almora, Uttarakhand is this! During the summer months between April to June, the weather is pleasant to mildly hot with clear skies. The start of the winters from September to November is also very pleasant and favorable for tourists to visit Almora.
Best time to visit Ranikhet:
Just like Almora the starting of the winters is the most pleasant time to visit Ranikhet. While the late winter in Ranikhet gets really cold, the peak summer afternoons are also quite hot making it difficult to roam out in the open during the daytime.
How to reach Almora:
Almora can be easily reached by flight, bus or train via Delhi. While the flights are majorly connected via Delhi, the trains may take a different route to skip Delhi. You also have options of both day and night trains from Delhi to Kathgodam which is at a distance 82kms covered in almost 3 hours from Almora. There are many Volvo, private and state bus options also available from Delhi for direct connectivity to Almora.
How to reach Ranikhet:
Ranikhet can also be reached in a similar manner as Almora. The last railway’s station before Ranikhet is Kathgodam. There are multiple bus options also available from Delhi to Ranikhet. While Ranikhet and Almora are on the different routes, the taxis are easily available from Kathgodam for both these places.
Local Transport in Almora:
There is limited public transport in Almora. Most of the tourists opt for cab services which are operated by the locals. You can easily avail cab services from your hotel as well as most of them have contacts with the local vendors.
Local Transport in Ranikhet:
There is limited public transport in Ranikhet too. Similar to Almora, the tourists prefer to take the cabs operated by the local vendors.
Places to visit in Almora
Almora is a land of temples. There are a lot of temples around Almora which can be visited and explored while visiting Uttarakhand. Besides trying the local Kumaoni cuisine, here is the list of places to visit in Almora:
Kasar Devi Temple:
One of the oldest temples on Almora, this temple has always been one of the most sought-after places by the hippies. Located at a distance of just 7km from the main city of Almora, this temple can be easily reached from the city.
Chitai (Golu Devta) Temple:
It is believed that if you wish for anything here at the Golu Devta Temple of Chitai Almora, it will come true. Located at a distance of 9km from the main city, this temple is marked with bells inside the premises.
Nanda Devi Temple:
Located in the Paltan Bazar area of Almora, this temple is one of the most famous and sought after by the Hindu pilgrims. The temple is considered to be very sacred as Nanda Devi was considered to be the reincarnation of Lord Durga.
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary:
Binsar is famous for the wildlife sanctuary and Zero Point. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of 25kms from Almora and the Zero Point Binsar is located almost 2kms from the Tourist Guest House in Binsar. The views from the Zero Point are breathtaking as you get to see the peaks of the Himalayan Ranges in full glory. The entry fees to the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is 150INR per person and you need to pay 250INR for the vehicle entry.
Places to visit in Ranikhet:
Just like Almora, here are the things to do in Ranikhet:
Jhula Devi Temple:
One of the oldest and most worshiped temples, the Jhula Devi Temple was built in the 8th century. The temple is located right in the city center and is surrounded by bells both within and outside the temple.
The second largest golf course in the country, this 9 hole golf course is a must visit for golf lovers. This golf course is located close to the city center and offer various membership plans to all the game lovers.
Built by the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army, this temple in Ranikhet is believed to fulfill the wishes of all its worshipers, hence the name.
The Chaubatia Orchards in Ranikhet offers mesmerizing views of the Himalayan ranges. The orchards are famous for its apple trees among others.
Located close to the city center, the Bhalu Dam is considered to be a good picnic spot for families. This is a man-made lake surrounded by lush green trees and is in the Himalayan valley. Be prepared that you need to trek for almost 3kms before you reach the Bhalu Dam.
Weekend Itinerary for Almora and Ranikhet:
We went to Almora and Ranikhet for an extended weekend. As both Almora and Ranikhet are apt for a weekend getaway from Delhi, we planned our visit for an extended weekend with just an additional day off.
We reached from Delhi to Kathgodam by train with the Shatabdi Express. The train starts at 5 in the morning from New Delhi and reaches Kathgodam at around 11:30 am. Our stay was the next 2 days was arranged at The Kumaon in Almora so we headed to Almora from Kathgodam. This distance was covered in almost 3hours and 30 mins with a stopover at Khem Singh Rautela Sweet Shop in Almora to try their world famous Bal Mithai. This shop is the most recommended if you wish to try Bal Mithai from Uttarakhand.
After we reached the Kumaon we had a lavish lunch arranged for us by the staff. Special thanks to Isha and her team for arranging everything so perfectly for us. The welcome drinks on our arrival were definitely a savior.
We spent the evening around the property exploring the various sections and enjoying the beautiful sunset. While the evenings were spent mostly shooting, we were all pepped up for the special Kumaoni dinner arranged for us. The dinner comprised of Gehat ki Dal, Aloo ke Gutke and special Kumaoni Style Mutton Curry with other delicacies. The dinner was awesome and we totally enjoyed every bit of it.
After a lavish breakfast at the Kumaon, we started for Binsar, the wildlife sanctuary near Almora. Although we could not go to the zero point due to the forest fire and the haze, we spent some time at the Tourist Guest House in Binsar before returning to The Kumaon.
We spent the evening chit-chatting with Isha, knowing more about the property, interacting with the locals working near the property and some drone sessions. We totally enjoyed the relaxed evenings at the Kumaon. The dinner tonight was a special one as we had a perfect candle-lit dinner arranged for us. The time spent talking to each other while enjoying the candle-lit dinner was definitely one of the most romantic things you should try at the Kumaon.
We started for Ranikhet from Almora on the Day 3 of our trip. The distance from Ranikhet to Almora is around 60kms and is covered in approximately 2 hours. Our pickup and stay at Ranikhet was arranged at a beautiful property in Ranikhet called Junoon in the Hills. This boutique villa property is located almost 20kms away from the city of Ranikhet and provides a perfect backdrop of the hills amidst the forest. The day was spent relaxing on the property and exploring it.
The day 4 and last day of the trip was more of a stay and relax day. We spent most of the day shooting the property and enjoying its various sections of the living area which had a television and a pool table. We also had various drone flying sessions throughout the day making the most of our stay. The staff at the property was very helping and always on their toes to make our stay comfortable.
After spending good and meaningful 4 days in the Uttarakhand we started for our journey back home the next day. While we explored the places to visit in Uttarakhand we tried food from the very famous Lee’s Kitchen at Kathgodam. This place is very famous for their Chinese food and we really enjoyed their Hakka noodles with dragon chicken. All in all, it was a good break from our busy schedule and a trip to Almora coupled with a staycation at Ranikhet in Uttarakhand.