Gracing the Kumaon region of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand and known as the cultural and heritage hub of Uttarakhand, Almora is a must-visit. Located at a bit higher elevation it offers incredibly stunning views of the Himalayan mountain ranges like Panchachuli, Nanda Devi, and Trishul. Along with supporting human life, it is also a thriving ground for various flora and fauna that cannot be found elsewhere other than these parts.
It goes without saying that the people of Almora are deeply religious, very spiritual, and wonderfully connected with the surrounding nature. They worship nature, have festivals dedicated to celebrating them, and also pray to the nature gods for appropriate rainfall and rich harvest. They have their quirks and getting to know their culture is an experience of its own.
Here is everything you need to learn about the various culture of Almora that has its roots centuries and ages ago:
The local craft of Almora
The handloom and handicrafts industry of Almora is very unique. Not only is it a source of livelihood for many but it is also the reason why people from far and wide visit Almora. They make their way to this scenic cantonment town on the hills. Some common works of art originating in Almora include – Aipan which is kind of a ritualistic floor painting; copperware items like little sculptures and images of gods and goddesses; Likhai which is wood carvings and makes for amazing wall hangings and decorative pieces; Bichhu Buti is craftwork made out of nettle fiber which is very commonly available on the hills of Uttarakhand; Ringal which is bamboo craft items and other interesting handloom items like shawls and thermal wear.
Out of all the variety of craft forms, the traditional local Aipan Rangoli art form is most widely recognized and loved. You can mostly see them at the entrance of the local people’s homes. This art is associated heavily with socio, cultural and religious significance. Specific patterns in Aipan are made during special occasions like marriages and festivals. Almora is also a manufacturing hub for warm shawls and metal crafts.
Fairs and festivals of Almora
Fairs and festivals are very close to the hearts of the locals of Almora. They celebrate every festival and fair no matter how big or small with equal enthusiasm and vibrancy. If you happen to visit Almora during some festival season then you will get a glimpse into the rich past and heritage of Almora. One of the most celebrated festivals in Almora is the famous Almora festival which is celebrated with the view of inviting more tourists and travelers to explore and learn more about the impeccable heritage of Almora. The festival takes place in October and it is held by the administrative department of Almora in order to promote the cultural, traditional, and heritage aspects of Almora. This festival is all about power, positivity, and electrifying energy which is demonstrated through magic shows, Bollywood nights, environmental summits, and cultural seminars.
Other than these festivals the locals are responsible for celebrating other festivals of deep-rooted legacy for ages. These include Dussehra – Almora is the only place in the country where 33 different effigies of Ravana are burned and the entire city is filled with the sound of chants, music, rhythms, and dances; Nanda Devi Festival – Held in the month of November, this festival’s roots go back to the time of the Chand dynasty where the locals offer their prayer and take a pilgrimage up to the temple of Nanda Devi in Almora; Devidhura Bagwal Mela – This meal takes place in the Barahi Temple which is located on the Trisectional point of Devidhura which is located amidst Almora, Nainital, and Champawat.
Music and Dance of Almora
On entering Almora one thing that you will notice is prevalent throughout this hill town is that every corner has some traditional or folk music playing. Almora locals can be best described as positive, music-loving humble folks who have songs for every event, occasion, and festival. Music forms an integral part of music culture in not only Almora but in the entire state of Uttarakhand. The calming and utterly serene ambiance of Almora inspires people here to create magical, mystical, and peaceful music. Some extremely famous types of music here include – Mandals, Panwaras, Thadya, Jhoda, and somber khud. All these songs are composed using traditional and folksy instruments like Dhol, Turri, Dholki, Ransingha, Damon, Bhankora, Thali, and Masak Baja.
Famous Sweets and Desserts of Almora
This is the thing about India, every state, city, and town is defined by the selection of sweets and desserts that they have to offer. Some of the most famous sweet dishes of Almora are Singudi, Jhangore Ki Kheer, and Bal Mithai. If you happen to visit this beautiful hill town and not taste these delicacies then your whole experience remains incomplete. Singodi is a condensed milk sweet that is packed and served inside the Molu leaf traditionally and this milk is flavored with cardamom that adds a different and refreshing flavor profile to the whole sweet dish. When it comes to Jhangore Ki Kheer, millet which is locally sourced is the main component of the desert. They are cooked like regular Kheer in milk and are flavored with cardamom and raisins. High in nutritional value, this sweet dish is famous for its rich texture and unforgettable taste. Bal Mithai and Uttarakhand sweets go hand in hand. This dish is kind of a locally made fudge that is made from roasted Khoya and then coated with small sugar balls. Bal Mithai is one of the most famous sweets of Almora district and can be found literally anywhere.
The culture of Almora stands out from the rest of Devbhoomi. It is colorful and full of love and positivity. You should plan a visit to Almora during the time of any of these festivals or fairs.