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Champawat

76 km from Pithoragarh headquarters, Champawat is situated 1615 m above sea level. The district of Champawat constituted in the year 1997 is situated between 29 degree 5 minutes and 29 degree 30 minutes in northern altitude and 79 degree 59 minutes and 80 degree 3 minutes at the center of eastern longitude. The Ram Ganga River acts as a border between Champawat and Pithoragarh in north while Jabgura and Pannar rivers in south and west act as a border between Champawat, Udham Singh Nagar and Almora districts simultaneously. The long chain of mountain in southwestern region acts as a border between the district Champawat and Nainital district. It is important from the defence point of view as in the east Kali river acts the international border between Nepal and India. The district owes its name to King Arjun Deos daughter Champawati. Earlier this district was a part of district Almora. In 1972 the Champawat Tehsil of Almora district was transferred to Pithoragarh. On 15th Sep, 1997 Champawat district was given an independent identity. Champawat mainly consists of mountain ranges, large valleys, uneven landscapes, breaked cliffs, rivers and rivulets. The important rivers are Ladhia, Sharda, Lohawati, Panaar. Jagbura and Ramganga. All these rivers amalgamate with Kali River at Pancheswar. Only the Sharda river which goes to Terai area flows through. on the basis of geographical distribution it can be divided in three main parts. First one, the 35 villages of Tanakpur (Purnagiri) Tehsil fall in Terai area and are important from the view point of plain and agricultural land and a warm area of an average height of 200 to 250 meter, having abundance of water and good soil. Second one is Shivalik which is situated at a height of 250 to 1200 meter. It represents a sloping and uneven topographical land consisting of dense forests. Third one is hilly area the average height of 1500 mts ( from 1200 to 2200 mts). Champawat district has acquired the unique distinction of being the holy land of gods and therefore, temples of very large variety dedicated to diverse gods including local deities and demons of restricted influence are spread over the whole expanse. These temples either possess the architectural features of great interest to a scholar or provide sustenance to faith through setting local, associated legends or fantastic design formations. The urge to come back to them is irresistible in as much as they exercise an impact on human psyche that beats all scientific logic. Apart from this these temples are of great interest to a casual tourist from the point of view of design, landscape around and several other features unique to them.

Climate


The climate of the district is very differential. Terai area is hot whereas the hilly region is comparatively cold. High mountain ranges are covered with snow. The climatic condition of Terai and plains are similar, the seasonal rain is very high (about 20 cm. yearly). Summers are too hot and winters are too cold and foggy in Terai region. The climate of Shivalik is more or less same but the lower region of Himalayas experience cold climate throughout the year. In summers, Champawat district is pleasant. The temperature varies from 1 degree Celsius in the year to 35 degree Celsius. Summer months are May, June and July whereas Dec and Jan are very cold.

Fauna and Flora

Around 65 percent area of the district is covered with fauna and flora. Rest 35 percent is used as agricultural, non-agricultural and grazing land. Besides the hills, the plains are vegetated with plenty of exotic and traditional variety of plants such as Ecliptus, Babool, Teak, Sagon, Jamun, Bans, Bail, Madar etc. The 900-1800 metres slope of the southern hills is full of Chir trees. Besides this, the region is having various useful plants for human beings such as Amla, Ayer Tun and Khatic. The forest of the region is blessed with various kinds of wild life including tiger, elephant, Cheetal, Barahsingha, deer etc. Various kind of beautiful birds particularly Sarso, a sovereign bird is found every year during winter season is the specialty of the region.

Minerals

Many ores, minerals, soils and rocks are available in the hills of Champawat. According to geological survey of India this region is having ample of lime, magnexide, soapstone, gypsum. Apart from these various ores and minerals are also available in this region such as ognexide, quanite, graphite etc. as per the GSI report.

Economy

In this district 65 percent of the area is under forest and net sown area is less than 10 percent. Only about 9% of the sown area is irrigated and agriculture is mainly rainfed. Consequently, it is at subsistence level and only traditional crops are grown. Around 82 percent of workers are engaged in agriculture and there are negligible workers in household or non household industry. On a very limited sown area a large number of people are dependent. Although 68 percent of the villages have been electrified. But quality of power supplied is poor. There is 372 Km road length available for one lakh population and 477.5 km on every 1000 sq. km area. One bank branch is available for more than 8000 population. There are total 27 Bank Branches available. Champawat district is characterised by money order economy as a large number of males are working outside in big cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Bombay etc. either in the armed forces or other jobs since there are no employment opportunities in the district. Therefore, there is a large number of women headed households. The district is economically and socially backward with acute poverty and society ridden with outmoded traditions and even superstitions. The status of women is coupled with discrimination against girls child. The women suffer from all kinds of social disabilities and at the same time handling each and every responsibility of domestic work as well as collection of fuel and fodder and in large cases drinking water from distant places. All these factors adversely effect educational development of girls especially of poorer sectors of society and those living in remote areas.

Infrastructure

The nearest railway station is 75 km. away from Champawat at Tanakpur. The urban and semi urban towns are well equipped with roads. Distt. Champawat is also linked with Udham Singh Nagar distt. and Nainital dist. through Pakka road. On the other hand some villages of the distt are scattered and not linked with any kind of road infrastructure. As a result it is very difficult to reach in some of the villages. Many villages have not been able to have minimum basic needs of education and health due to remoteness. In the field of telecommunication the urban area of the distt is equipped with the modern telecom facilities whereas the rural areas are still untouched with this facility. Due to lack of electricity many families are using lantern. The number of hospitals are not sufficient. The drinking water facilities are also not adequate. Women have to trek long distances for fetching drinking water.

Instituitions

Being a newly formed and remote district no important Research Institution is situated in the district. Only a Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Pantnagar Agricultural University exists at Lohaghat. There is one Polytechnic running at Lohaghat. It has 5 trades ( Civil Engg., Electronics, IT, Farmacy, Modern Management & Secretarial Practice) running with 222 students. There are three ITIs also at Tanakpur, Champawat & Khetikhan. These have 3 trades in Champawat, 5 in Khetikhan and 9 trades in Tanakpur with a total of 34 students at Champawat, 61 students at Khetikhan & 203 students at Tanakpur

How to reach

By Air

Nearest Air Port is at Naini Saini, 80 kms away (Pithoragarh).

By Train

Nearest railhead is at Tanakpur, 75 kms away.

By Road

It is well connected to other parts of district.

Distance from Champawat to :
Nanital 233 km
Haldwani 193 km
Tanakpur 75 km
Champawat District at a glance
Area ( In Sq. Km.) 1955.26
Tehsil ( 4 ) Champawat
  Lohaghat
  Sri Purnagiri Tanakpur
  Pati
Sub- Tehsil (1 ) Barakot
Blocks ( 4 ) Champawat
  Lohaghat
  Barakot
  Pati
Nyaya panchayat 24
Gram Sabha 283
Revenue Villages 691
No. of Towns (3) N.P.Champawat
  N.P.Lohaghat
  N.P.P. Tanakpur
No. of Villages 687 ( Census 2001)
Population ( 2001 Census )  
Rural  
Male 92816
Female 97948
Urban  
Male 18268
Female 15510
Total 33778
Male 111084
Female 113458
Total 224542

Places of Interest

Champawat Town

Champawat, once the capital of the rulers of the Chand dynasty, is famous for its natural beauty and well known temples. The ancient fort, now houses headquarters of the Tehsil office. A historical spot, Champawat has many well known temples of high artistic value. The Baleshwar temple is the noted attraction of Champawat. The Nagnath temple at Champawat is also an excellent example of ancient architecture of Kumaon. 4 - 5 kms. from Champawat is the 'Ek Hathiya Ka Naula', which is said to have been constructed in just one night by the one handed artisan. The story of Golla Devta is also associated with Gorilla Chaur of Champawat. It was in Champawat that Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared as 'Kurma avatar' (incarnation as tortoise). This hill is also known as Mt. Kandev. There is a small fort at Champawat. Jim Corbett had come to this region in the first decade of the twentieth century in order to hunt for man eating tigers.

At a glance

Area 5 Sq. kms
Altitute 1615 m
Season Throughout the year
Clothing  
Summer Cottons/ light woolens
Winter Heavy Woolens
Languages Hindi, Kumaoni and English

Baleshwar Temple

Baleshwar, 76 kms. from Pithoragarh, situated at Champawat is the most artistic temple of the district. There are evidences that the group of temples dedicated to Baleshwar, Ratneshwar and Champawati Durga were built by the early kings of the Chand dynasty. The temple once had intricate structural features and a sanctuary with a mandap. The intricate carving still visible on the ceilings of these temples is an evidence of their ancient glory and artistic excellence.

Gwal Devta

A deity of widespread faith and influence, Gwal Devta also known as Goril or Goll, is considered to be the presiding deity of justice. It is believed that when approached, Gwal Devta dispenses justice to a helpless victim of injustice and cruelty. Historically, Goril a Katyuric prince of Champawat, known for his unwavering justice and fair play, was himself a victim of planned conspiracy hatched up by his step mother, who had thrown him into a river, locked up in an iron cage. Held in high esteem as a symbol of justice, a temple was dedicated to him at Gwarail Chaur at Champawat and ever since he has grown into a deity of great influence attracting innumerable pilgrims around him. As per a story, Harish Chandra was a famous king of Champawat, who after his death, was worshipped as the folk god 'Haru'. Haru's mother's name was Kainer and he is said to be Gwall's maternal uncle.

Places of Interest around Champawat

Lohaghat

At an elevation of 1706 m, Lohaghat is 62 Km away from Pithoragarh on way to Tanakpur and 14 km from Champawat district headquarters. Lohaghat which is situated on the bank of river Lohawati is a centre of historical and mythological importance. In 1841, so overcome was Pilgrim (Barron) by its beauty, that he had surprised why the Government of India was not developing it as its summer capital. In summer season Lohaghat is full of Burans flowers. Nearest railhead is at Tanakpur which is 89 km away.

Lohaghat at a glance

Area 4.5 Sq. kms
Population 3891 (1991 census)
Season Throughout the year
Clothing Summer - Cotton
  Winter - Heavy Woolens
Language Kumaoni, Hindi and English
Local Transport Jeeps/Taxis/Ponies/Dandy

Reetha Saheb

From Dhunaghat (on the Lohaghat -Devidhura road)one can visit Reetha Saheb or Meetha Reetha, located at a distance of 72 km from Champawat. Guru Nanak is said to have visited this place and have had spiritual discussions with Gorakhpanthi Jogis. The Gurudwara was constructed in 1960 at the confluence of Lodhiya and Ratiya rivers, near village Deyuri. There are trees of sweet Reetha (Sapindus emarginatus) in the Gurudwara premises, adjoining it is the temple of Dhernath. Before the motor Road was build to Bhingrara, people use to come to this place on foot. A fair is held at the Gurudwara on Baisakhi Poornima. Ritha Mitha Sahib is well connected with all the major towns of Kumoan hills and near by districts. Nearest Rail Head is at Tanakpur which is 173 Km away.

Devidhura

At distance of 45 kms from Lohaghat, Devidhura is famous for its Barahi temples. A very unusual fair, which attracts people from Kumoan, Nepal, and even other places, is held every year at the temple of Barahi Devi on Raksha Bandhan day. During this festival, known as Bagwal, two groups of dancing and singing people throw stones at each other, while they try to protect themselves with the help of large wooden shields. The famous hunter, Jim Corbett's tale 'Temple Tiger' is associated with the Devidhura temples. Devidhura is situated amidst tall deodar and oak trees surrounded by beautiful native flora and fauna. This is a wonderful place for treking and being one with the mountains. Nearest railhead is at Tanakpur which is 110 m away.

Purnagiri

At a height of 3000 m above sea level, Purnagiri is 20 km from Tanakpur, 171 km from Pithoragarh and 92 km from Champawat. Purnagiri temple is visited throughout the year by devotees from all parts of the country, who come here in large numbers, particularly during Chaitra Navratri in the month of March - April. The surrounding valleys echo with the holy chantings of the devotees climbing up to the top for darshan, creating an atmosphere of spirituality. From Purnagiri, also known as Punyagiri, the river Kali descends into the plains and is known as Sharda. For visiting this shrine one can go upto Thuligaarh by vehicle. From this place one has to trek (the road is under construction upto Tunyas ). After the ascent of Bans ki Charhai comes Awalakhan (the new name is Hanuman Chatti).The southwestern part of 'Punya Parvat' can be seen from this place. Another ascent ends at the TRC of Tanki. The region of temporary shops and residential huts start from this place upto Tunyas. From the highest point (the temple) of Purnagiri hill the pilgrim can see the expanse of Kali, its islands, the township of Tanakpur and a few Nepali villages. The old Buram Deo Mandi is very close to Purnagiri. From Tanakpur or Purnagiri it is possible to trek to Tamli and even to Jhulaghat along the Kali river. For all basic amenities/facilities Tanakpur is the nearest place.

How to reach

By Train

Nearest Rail Head is at Tanakpur, 20 Kms away.

By Road

Motorable road upto Thuligad, 14 kms. from Tanakpur. Thereafter, the road is under construction upto Tunyas (5 kms.). From here, a 3 Km trek leads to Purnagiri.

By Air

Nearest Airport is at Pant Nagar, 121 km (Via Khatima Nanakmatta) away.

Advait Ashram

22 km from Champawat and 9 km from Lohaghat, this ashram is situated at an altitude of 1940 meters. Mayawati shot into prominence after the Advait Ashram was established here. The ashram attracts spiritualists from India and abroad. Amid and old tea Estate, is the Advait Ashram of Mayawati. During his third visit to Almora in 1898, Swami Vivekanand decided to shift the publication office of 'Prabuddh Bharat' from Madras to Mayawati, from where it is published since then. The only presence that has become a part of the peace and solitude of Mayawati, is that of the mighty Himalaya in all its splendor. On request the Ashram provides board and lodging to visitors. There is also a library and a small museum at Mayawati.

The fort of Vanasur

It is a fort at an elevation of 1859 m, 7 km from Lohaghat and 20 km from Champawat (Lohaghat to Karnakarayat is 6 km by bus and Karnakarayat to Vanasur ka kila 1 km by foot ) along the Bhowali road, is the fort of Vanasur which can be seen of all sides. The names of Shonitpur and Lohawati are linked with the myth about the assassination of Vanasur at this place. One has to walk about 2 km to get to the fort. The fort seems to be a construction belonging to the middle ages, but the story of Vanasur was probably associated with the spot even before the construction of the fort. Lohawati river originates near this place.

Shyamlatal

1500 m above sea level, Shyamlatal is 132 km from Pithoragarh and 56 km from Champawat. Swami Vivekanand Ashram is located here at the bank of the lake. The blue colored lake of Shyamlatal is spread over an area of about one & a half sq. km. This place has some ruins dating back to the days of the early Chand rulers and others which were associated with the Pandavas. Shyamlatal is also famous for its Jhula fair. Different variety of roses also attract the travelers here.

Pancheshwar

40 km from Lohaghat at the confluence of river Kali and Saryu, Pancheshwar forms the borders with Nepal and is famous for the temple of Chaumu, its fair and a dip at the confluence is considered to be very sacred. The Jaat (jamaan) of Chaumu comes down from villages Sail, 5 km above the temple. Chaumu is worshiped as a protector of animals. Bells and milk are offered in the temple of Pancheshwar. Chaumu Jaat of Pancheshwar has its unique way of cultural expression. The temple at Pancheshwar is devoted to Lord Shiva.

Abbot Mount

In 1914 Mr. Abbot built a bungalow in a place, today known as Abbot Mount, which is situated amidst a thick forest of oak and deodar. From Abbot mount one gets a breathtaking view of the Himalayan peaks. Today there are number spectacular of bungalows built during the British Raj. Very close to the field which is situated at the Mount, various activities and games are held in order to encourage tourism. Close by is the bungalow which once belonged to the Abbots amidst the deodar trees that they had planted. One can drive or walk up to the mount, which is 3 Km from Marorakhan and 7 km from Lohaghat.