Spread out gracefully on the southern ridge of the Kumaon hills in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand, Almora is a stunning hill town. Located on an elevation of just about 2,000 meters above sea level, Almora is famous as the cultural capital of Devbhoomi. Dotted with yoga and meditation centers, Almora is all about peace, serenity, and calming vibes against the backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. The climatic condition of this wonderful little hill town and its proximity to some big cities has turned it into a much-loved tourist getaway destination in north India. Officially founded in the year 1568, Almora past is a very colorful and vibrant one that continues to fascinate explorers from all over the globe.
Curious to learn about the interesting past of Almora? Here is everything you need to know:
Almora History – About Almora District
How Was Almora Named?
During the olden times, it was a trend, especially on the hills to name a place after the most abundantly available vegetable or plant that grows in that region. Bhilmora is a kind of a sorrel that used to be hugely available across the region of Almora. This plant was used widely to wash the holy utensils in the Katarmal sun temple making it an even more important part of the people’s lives in Almora. The people who used to go and fetch Bhilmora became known as Bhimori which later on transformed into Almori. During the Chand ruled Almora was known as Rajapur and later on when King Bhishma Chand had laid down the foundation stone of the city, it came to be known as Alamnagar. There have been copper plate findings that suggest Almora was Rajapur before and then, later on, got named Almora.
Chand and Katyuri Dynasty in Almora
It was the year 1568 when Almora was officially founded by the Chand ruler Kalyan Chand. Prior to the establishment of his rule, Almora was under the rule of Katyuri king Bhaichaldeo who had initially donated a part of Almora to the ruler Sri Chand Tiwari. According to the earliest recorded history of Almora and even according to the local traditions, the possible earliest inhabitants of Almora were the Tewari’s. They were responsible for bringing the temple utensil cleaning sorrel at Katarmal.
Ancient written sources of Vishnu Puran and Mahabharata have also found mention of Almora. Through these sources, we come to know that the most ancient tribes that had called Almora their homes are the Sakas, the Nagas, the Kiratas, and the Khasas. The history of the Kauravas and the Pandavas of Hastinapur can also be traced back to these parts of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. The southern and western part of the city was ruled by the local kings called the Kulindas. Another ancient sect of people that had called Almora their home were the Khasas who also belonged to the Aryan stock.
Prior to the Chand rule, the Katyuris were the dominant dynasty rulers in Devbhoomi. This comes to light due to the presence of many copper and stone engravings. They were in constant wars and battles with the local Pahadi rulers that culminated into long-term destruction in some regions. During 1563, Almora, under the Chand rule, was the strongest seat of power. By the end of the 17th century, Chand rajas attacked the Garhwal kingdom and in 1688 king Udyot Chand went on to construct numerous temples in Almora including Parvateshwar Temple (present-day Nanda Devi Temple) which was a major mark of their victory over the Garhwal and the doti.
17th century Almora
During the 17th century, the Gorkhas of Nepal were expanding their empire all over and the overrun Almora across the river kali attracted their attention. Simultaneously the British were also trying their best to keep the Gorkhas away from entering Almora and their attempts to rule over the entire northern frontier of the subcontinent. However, the Gorkhas managed to rule over Almora for over 20 years. However due to their repeated and constant intrusion into the British territory of the Terai region since the 1800s, the governor-general of India, Lord Moira decided to attack Almora in December 1814. The Gurkhas were defeated completely and which later on led to the signing of the treaty of Sugauli in 1816. The treaty stated that the Nepal government would cede back all the regions that were conquered by them to the British East India Company. Contrary to popular belief, unlike their contemporary hill stations, Nainital and Shimla, Almora was already inhabited and developed way before the arrival of the British by the Chand kings.
The history of Almora is extremely interesting, dynamic, and very vibrant that has helped shape its presence in a major way. It has been home to many different tribes and communities over centuries and continues to be a thriving hub of culture in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand.