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Pithoragarh

The district of Pithoragarh came into being in 1960 when it was carved out of the district of Almora. On 15th September 1997, the Champawat Tehsil, hitherto under Pithoragarh, was carved into Champawat district. The Pithoragarh town is located at a height of 1645 meters above sea level. The district lies between 29.4° to 30.3° North latitude and 80° to 81°East longitude along the eastern and southern part of the central Himalayas with Indo-Tibbetan watershed divide in the north and the Kali river forming a continuous border with Nepal in the east. The northern part of the district is thinly populated and is adorned with many lofty snow covered peaks like Nanda Devi (east), Nanda Devi (west), Trishul, Nandakhat, Rajrambha, Panchchuli group and many others. Below these lofty snow bound mountains are many charming mountains and many charming alpine meadows and glaciers, the main being Milam glacier, Ralam glacier, Namik glacier and Sunder Dhunga glacier. Being the last district adjoining Tibbet, it has tremendous strategic importance as the passes of Lipulekh, Kungribingri, Lampia Dhura, Lawe Dhura, Belcha and Keo, open out to Tibbet. The breath taking beauty of Pithoragarh - Himalayas, wide expenses of grassy meadow, perennial streams roaring down the zig-zag course, a stupendous variety of flora and fauna, above all, pure nature yet unsullied, seem to beckon the beholder into their folds, into a charmed world of virgin beauty.

Climate


There are four main seasons in the entire district : Winter or Cold weather (mid Dec. - mid March)
Summer or hot weather (mid March - mid June)
Season of general rains (South - West monsoon season)
Season of retreating monsoon (mid September to mid November) During the coldest month of January, tropical ridges and high location along the lesser Himalaya record an average monthly temperature between 5.5° C and 8° C. By the March the temperature begins to rise progressively till early June which is the hottest month every where. Dharchula and Jhulaghat record an average temperature between 30 - 45° C.

How to reach

By Air

Nearest Airport is at Naini Saini some 5 Km away from Pithoragarh town. Nearest commencing airport is Pant Nagar in Udham Singh Nagar district.

By Train

Tanakpur in Champawat district connected with Pithoragarh by 151 Km long motor route via Champawat and Lohaghat. Kathgodam in Nainital district connected with Pithoragarh by 212 Kilometers long motor route via Bhowali, Almora, Daniya and Rameshwar.

By Road

Well connected by a motorable road.

Distance from Pithoragarh to :
Agra via Kasganj 492 Km
Almora via Daniya 120 Km
Bareilly via Tanakpur 251 Km
Dehradun via Tanakpur 538 Km
Delhi via Tanakpur 503 Km
Gwaldam via Berinag 206 Km
Haldwani via Almora 218 Km
Moradabad via Khatima 329 Km
Nainital via Almora 188 Km
Pilibhit via Tanakpur 215 Km
Pithoragarh District at a glance :
Area of the district 7,169 sq. Km
Total Villages 1635
Inhabited Villages 1568
Population of the district (1991 Census )  
Total 4,16,647
Males 2,09,177
Females 2,07470
Total Literacy rate 61.4
Total length of motorable road 1078 Km
Total length of non-motorable roads 141 Km
Total length of kuccha roads 632 Km
Post offices 320
Telegraph offices 9
P.C.O's 204

Peaks and Passes


Peaks

Reach Tawaghat along the Kailas - Mansarovar route. From here trek along the Dhauli E to reach Dugtu/ Dantu or along the Gori (along Jauljibi) to reach Madkot and then along the Mandakini or Mandkanya river upto the base camp. From these two points mountaineers can climb the Panchchuli peaks. Various peaks like Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nand Kot and Panchchuli can be clearly viewed from Chaukori which is 112 Km (via Gangolihat) and 75 Km (via Thal) from Pithoragarh.

Passes

The area to the north beyond the main zone of Himalaya with a range of altitude between 5300 - 6500 meters, possesses the following well known passes :
In Gori Gunkha Valley - Belcha Dhura (5,384 m), Kungri Bhingri (5,564 m), Keo Dhura (5,439 m)
In Dhauli E Valley - Lwa Dhura (5,564 m)
In Kali Valley - Lipu Lekh (5,122 m)
In Kuti Valley - Lampiya Dhura (5,553 m), Nuwe Dhura (5,650 m)
From Bedang to Jolinkong - Sirla Pass
From Milan to Topidhura - Untadhura Pass
From Martoli -lwa to Khati - Traills Pass
From Munsyari to Sipu - Ralam Pass
From Sela to Kuti - Nama Pass
From Sipu to Milam - Kalganga Dhura
Within Panchchuli range - Athasi Balati

Rivers, Water Sources and Lakes

The district abounds in rivers some of which originate within the fold of the district and, assuming a peripheral course along the borderline, enter the Garhwal region and eventually merges into the Ganga and have thus been geographically grouped under the rivers of the Ganga system. These are:

Girthi

This river has a short course in the extreme NW of Pithoragarh and, moving along Kungribingri range in a west and southwest course, finally enters in the Garhwal region.

Keogad

To the north of Girthi and alike having a short course in Pithoragarh the Keogad river moving along the inner enclosures of the district enters the Garhwal region. Then again, there are rivers so gigantic and dominating that they have, infact, become a way of life. They thunder through the district, determine geographical borders with the neighbouring country, nourish cultures along their course and cause economic boom or recession according as they are kind or playful.

Kali

The river Kali originating from trans Himalayan zone forms the continuous border with Nepal all through its course from Kalapani to Tanakpur where terminating its serpentine hilly course it finally enters plains and is then called Sharda. Along its vast catchment in the entire northern and eastern parts of Pithoragarh, the Kali is almost a human presence, masterful yet benign. The Kali river possesses an immense potential for irrigation and hydro electric generation and a project for the construction of a massive dam at Pancheswar is pending under political negotiations with Nepal.

Gori

Originating from a dual source in a glacier near south of Untadhura ridge feeding the eastern branch, and another glacier near Milam feeding the western branch, the Gori river joins the Kali at Jauljibi.

Dhauli

Dhauli is, infact, a combination of two head waters namely Dharamganga and Lassar with the glacier close to Darma pass as their source and, taking a south eastern course, finally joins Kali and serves as its important tributary.

Kutiyangti

This river originates from a small glacier along the southern base of Lumpiyadhura Pass and is a tributary of Kali.

Sarju

Originating from the extreme south of adjacent Almora district, the river Sarju makes the southwest boundary between Pithoragarh and Almora and, finally, at a point at Pancheswar, it joins Kali along with Panar river.

Ram Ganga

Forming the boundary between Almora and Pithoragarh districts the Ram Ganga originates from the Namik glacier. The river is fed by numerous small and big rivers and finally joins Sarju at Rameshwar. There are scriptual evidences which bearout that the great sage Vasistha also performed penance here and that the river Sarju originating from the feet of Lord Vishnu has journeyed to the ashram of Vasistha. The river is held in great reverence and is traditionally associated by the Hindu population of the district with the belief that it is gifted with the power of condoning their sins and hence is a preferred spot for cremation.

Traditional Drinking water Sources and natural lakes

The human settlements in different remote regions of Pithoragarh were principally based upon the factor of the easy availability of pure drinking water and it is a notable feature of all upland habitations that the under ground water reservoirs capable of supplying drinking water perennially either in the forms of guided springs called dharas or covered storages called Naulas, have been a primary source of water supply. Some of the underground reservoirs are so enormous that they emerge as rivers in lesser Himalaya and are continuously replenished either by the snow melts or by the rain water. There are a number of such spout springs (dharas) and covered storages (Naulas) which over a long period have gathered legends around them due either to their topography, architecture or location special, so much so that they have now become chosen picnic spots e.g., to the north of Dharchula is situated a hot water spring at the bank of Kali in a place called Tapowan and another in Madkot. Perhaps heights and lakes do not make a very probable combination but be lying the normal belief, Pithoragarh possesses wonders of natural lakes in the form of Jollingkong and Ancherital at an elevation of 4634 and 3658 meters respectively.

Places of Interest

Pithoragarh City

Nestling in a small valley 5 km long and 2 km wide, the town of Pithoragarh was an important landmark of the Chand Rajas of Kumaon and was known as soar valley. Pithoragarh is a treasure house for visitors, mountaineers, botanists & religious minded tourists. The Mansarovar Yatra route is a delight for trekkers and adventure seekers. Many rivers originate from the lofty Pithoragarh mountains, thus providing ample scope of water sports. The dense forests around have a wide range of wild flowers & animals including peacocks, elephants, tiger musk deer and snow leopards. The charming & colourful people of Pithoragarh celebrate all festivals and religious ceremonies with great fanfare & devotion.

Pithoragarh City at a glance :
Area 6.47sq.km
Population 27,753 (1991 census)
Altitude 1,645 m
Climate Snow fall in winter, heavy rainfall in monsoon. In summer while the valleys are hot, the higher regions remain cool.
Rainfall 36.7 cm (annual average)
Season Throughout the year
Clothing Summer- Cottons/ light woolens, Winter - Heavy Woolens
Languages Hindi, Kumaoni & English

Places of Interest in and around Pithoragarh

Mostamanu

Some six km by bus and then 2 km on foot to the north of Pithoragarh is situated the temple dedicated to Mosta God. The temple premises are a center of a big lively fair held in August - September every year.

Thal Kedar

Eight Km on motor roads to the south of Pithoragarh and thence after a climb along a narrow pathway flanked by dense vegetation is reached the Kedar temple situated at a height of 2000 meters.

Nakuleshwar Temple

This temple has its location at a place about two km removed from the village Shiling which it self is about four Km away from Pithoragarh. The word Nakuleshwar is derived from a combination of two words : Nakul meaning Himalaya and Ishwar meaning God and hence, Shiva the Himalaya God. The architectural design of the main temple is splendid and appears to have been modeled on the stylistic pattern of Khajuraho. In all, there are some thirty eight stone images of Shiva-parwati, Uma-Vasudev, Nauvarga, Surya, Mahishasur mardini, Vaman, Kurma, Narsingh etc. many of which are broken and disfigured because of neglect and age.

Kamaksha Temple

To the north east of Pithoragarh at a distance of about 7 Km near the army contonment base is situated the Kamaksha temple on the top of a hillock over looking the surrounding mountain ranges.

Arjuneshwar

Ten Km from the west of Pithoragarh town on the top of a hill at a height of 6000 ft. is situated the Shiva temple called Arjuneshwar believed to have been built by Arjuna the great warrior & the supreme archer.

Ulkadevi Temple

On Pithoragarh chandak motor road close to where the tourist rest house is situated stands the Ulkadevi temple besides which has also been built a memorial for the martyrs who laid down their lives in defense of the mother land. The temple offers a remarkable view of the sprawling Soar Valley.

Jayanti Temple Dhwaj

Eighteen Km from Pithoragarh on Didihat road is situated a place called Totanaula from where after a 3 Km long steep and tough climb is reached the Jayanti temple. On the way, some 200 ft. below the main temple, is situated the cave temple of Lord Shiva. From the hill top where the Jayanti temple is situated the Panchchuli and Nandadevi peaks of Himalayas in all their splendour can be clearly sighted.

Kapileshwar Mahadev

In the Soar Valley right above the villages of Takaura and Takari overlooking Pithoragarh town, is situated the cave temple dedicated to Mahadeva. The legend goes that the great sage kapil meditated here. The passage through the cave is very long and branches out to several indeterminate destinations and has hence been closed. The temple is situated some ten meters deep inside the cave. There is another cave temple of this kind also dedicated to Mahadev at a place called Rai which is about half a Km to the north-east on Dharchula-Pithoragarh road.

Chandak

Situated 7 Kms away by bus through an uphill climb Chandak constitutes the northern of Soar Valley. The famous temple of Mostamanu is 2 Km from Chandak. Chandak offers a fascinating view of the Himalayan ranges and the sprawling Soar Valley. It is a potential hang gliding resort and the magnesite mining factory is located too here.

Gangolihat

An important religious place and rich in folk culture and ancient myths, is situated 77 Km from Pithoragarh. It is particularly well known for the famous Mahakali temple where the Shakti Peeth was installed by Shankaracharya himself. During Navratries a fair is held on the occasion of which devotees offer pujas-along with sacrifices. 2 Km from Gangolihat near the Mankeshwar temple are the ruins of the fort which once belonged to the Mankotis -an obscure dynasty of Kumaon region. 2 Km away is Uprara, the native village of poet 'Gumani', the first Kumaoni poet, who also wrote in Hindi, Sanskrit and Nepali with great dexterity and command. 4 Km east from Uprara, near the village of Tamanauli is the Bharbhyo cave.

Mahakali Temple of Gangolihat

Tehsil and block Gangolihat is at a distance of 77 Km from Pithoragarh.It is rich in folk culture, music and religious traditions and had been chosen by Sankaracharya for the installation of Mahakali shaktipith. Amidst the cluster of pine trees is situated the shakti temple. The Goddess Kali as represented in her fierce form conquering the demon, is offered sacrifices of lambs and goats. In the direction opposite of the Kali temple about 2 Km away is situated the Chamunda temple which is believed to be in the centre of an area of wilderness exclusively possessed by spirits and demons conquered by the Goddess in her fierce aspect. The temple has an aura of mystery and weird charm and during the dark hours of night the spirits are believed to have a free sway outside the temple premises.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar

The exposure of Patal Bhuvaneshwar (Lord Shiva in the underground temple complex) is one of this unique way to help mankind. 16 Km to the north-east of Gangolihat and 20 Km. to the south of Berinag is situated the Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave temple. It is 91 Km away from the district head quarter and situated at a height of 1350 meters above sea level. The temple place comes under village Bhuvneshwar which is in the tehsil Didihat. The way to the temple is through a narrow tunnel shaped cave, giving a very thrilling experience. The main passage way opens into several small caves which have in them the stone carvings of many traditional Gods & Goddesses and can evoke weird romantic fancies and images in the religiously inclined person. The cave temple of Patal Bhuvaneshwar is traditionally believed to be the abode of thirty three crore deities.

Berinag

A small township facing the glorious snow clad pieces of Himalayas. Berinag is situated at a distance of 102 Km from Pithoragarh at an elevation of 1720 meters. Snake Temples, Tripura Devi Temple, Cave Temple of Koteshwar, Tea Gardens of Chaukori etc are places of worth seing. About one Km uphill to the south of Berinag proper in a romantic setting flanked in the north by a cluster of trees and to the further south by a ravine, is the location of the famous snake temple which is dedicated to one of several manifestations of Lord Vishnu. Legends say that the place was named Berinag after the Nagveni King Benimadhava. It is believed that when the pants from Maharashtra came to settle here they saw coiled snakes of all colours in a very large number and as a mark of reverence to them they built a snake temple sometimes in the fourteenth century. It is a popular belief that Lord Krishna after conquering Kalinag advised him to leave river Jamuna and settle somewhere amidst the snowy peaks, and that, Kalinag followed by many others came to a place somewhere around here.

Chaukori

Eleven Km away from Berinag, Garaun water falls four Kms to the east of the Berinag, Musk Deer Farm at Kotmanya, Him Darshan Kutir at Dharamghar are places of interest.

Thal

An important transit station for Munsyari and Chaukori (Berinag). Thal is 62 Km away from Pithoragarh and is situated on the banks of Ram Ganga. Ek Hatiya Temple, a monolithic shrine in Amiya village is 2 Km away from the motor road.

Kot Gari Devi

Situated about 9 Km from Thal the temple of Kotgari is held to be the final divine court of appeal for the deprived and the victim of cruelty and injustice.

Didihat

55 Kms from Pithoragarh, Didihat is situated at an elevation of 1725 meters. Seerakot fort cum Temple is 3 Km away from Didihat which is some 52 Km from the district headquarters. The outer part of the fort was used by the King as household accommodation whereas the temples of Shiva & Bhairab were built in the inner part. They are now in a state of ruins. The hilltop on which the fort is situated offers a remarkably clear and fascinating view of the Himalayan ranges.

Munsyari

Munsyari, the center as well as the gateway of Johar region is situated 154 Km from Pithoragarh at an elevation of 2298 meters and is snuggled in the folds of snow clad mountains. Munsyari is the base station for treks to Millam, Ralam and Namik Glaciers.

Dharchula

Situated at the banks of Kali river at the border of Pithoragarh district, Dharchula is 94 Km from Pithoragarh and is an important camp along the Kailash Mansarovar, Chotta Kailash and Narayan Ashram route. Narayan Ashram is established by Narayan Swami in 1936, Narayan Ashram is situated at a distance of 17 Kms from Tawaghat. The Ashram is a spiritual cum socio-educational centre.

Jauljibi

A point of confluence of the river Gori and Kali and of three different cultures, is situated at a distance of 77 Km from Pithoragarh. During the autumn season Jauljibi pulsates with an important trade fair which is an indication of the cultural and commercial prosperity of the region. Along the Kailash Mansarovar route, from Gunji (3500 m), one can move along the quieter Kali to walk to 10 Km to reach Kalapani (3600 m). There are pine, bhojpatra and juniper forests in this region. Although the river has been coming all the way from Lipulekh pass, the small pool formed under a huge rock is considered to be the source of the Kali. There are snow -clad mountains all around and Vyas's cave is to be found on the mountain in front of Rishi Vyas that the region is known as Byans. There is also a hot water spring at Kalapani.

Adventure Spots

The department of tourism proposes to create and provide necessary infrastructure, equipments and the allied facilities for adventures sports like Hang Gliding and Para Gliding Gliders can be made available on hire and conveyance to the gliding point and first aid facilities can be provided. Chandak, Munakot and Dwaj have been proposed into gliding points.

Ghunsera Devi Temple

The Ghunsera caves are located in the middle of a lofty hill on the top of which is situated the Asurchula temple. The stone images of Gods and Goddesses are believed to have been installed by the Khol kings of Kartikeya pura. Two of the stone images found here are said to belong to the Gupta period.

Glaciers and Water falls

Glaciers

The enormous snow reservoirs act as a natural source of big rivers originating at the base of the lesser Himalayas. Rougly 30 per cent of the district wears the perpetual snow cover and the gigantic masses of sliding snow feed a number of glaciers which in turn feed the three important northern-most rivers namely Kuti Yangti, Dhauli and Gori having their catchment in the glaciated zones.

Milam

Milam, one of the most beautiful glaciers of the world is in district Pithoragarh located at the height of 4250 meters above sea level. This glacier has been named after a village Milam located at 3 k.m. away from the Milam Glacier. In ancient time, Milam village was the most populous village of district Pithoragarh but at present its population is almost zero. But its importance is still maintained due to the world's famous glacier - Milam.River Gori Ganga,a tributary of the river Kali starts from the Milam Glacier.

Birthi Fall

The famous Birthi fall is on the Thal - Munsyari route near Bala village.

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

To the Hindus, the Himalayas are central to their cosmology. The peaks are the petals of the Golden Lotus which lord Vishnu created as a first step in the formation of the universe. On one of these peaks - Mount Kailash, sits Shiva in a state of perpetual meditation, generating the spiritaul force that sustains the cosmos. The ancient text, Rigveda has a mention of the Himalayas, their formation and sacredness. The most sacred peak in the Himalayan range, Mount Kailash, is said to have been formed 30 million years ago during the early stages of the formation of the Himalayan chain. According to the Jains, at the dawn of history their first law giver, Rishabhdev attained Nirvana on Mount Kailash. Mount Kailash is situated in Tibet where it is given the dignified title of 'Kang Rampoche' meaning 'Precious Jewel'. Near Mount Kailash, during the geological shift in the initial statges of the formation of the Himalayan mountain chain four rivers arose from the area, flowing in four different directions : the Indus flowed north, the Karnali south, the Yarlung Tsangpo flowed east and Sutlej travelled west. People have been visiting Kailas - Mansarovar for centuries. Almost all the major passes of Uttarakhand lead to Kailas - Mansarovar. Because of the Indo-chinese border dispute, Indians were not allowed to visit Kailas - Mansarovar for nearly two decades. However, since 1981, under the auspices of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and with the cooperation of the Chinese Government, Kumaun Mandal Vikas Nigam has been conducting trips to Kailas-Mansarovar through the Lipulekh pass. Even though only a limited number of people are allowed to visit Kailas - Mansarovar today, the very fact that the trips have been resumed raises hopes that, in the near future, more Indian pilgrims will be allowed to visit Western Tibet, the region of sacred mountains and lakes. It is because of Kailas - Mansarovar, which is 865 Kilomet. from Delhi, that Kumaon is sometimes called 'Manaskhand'. Many of our myths are associated with this unusual mountain and lake. The Buddhists, the Jains and the Bonpas of Tibet too, consider this abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati and the lake born from the mind of Brahma to be a sacred place. Therefore, it is not surprising that one often comes across Om Mani Padme Hum (hail to the Jewel (of creation) in the lotus) written on stones (the Buddhists), people making anti-clockwise pilgrimage around Mt. Kailas (the Bonpas) or a few ones specially visiting Astpaad near the southern face of Kailas, (the Jains) in the Kailas - Mansarovar region. One has to walk 53 Km to go around the Mount Kailas ( 6675 m ), which is also known as the centre of the universe in the Hindu Puranas and the Buddhist texts , Astpaad in Jain texts and Yungdruk Gu Tseg ( nine storey Swastika Mountain) in Bonpa tradition. Its highest point is Polmapass at 19000 feet (4515 mtrs). South of Mount Kailas are Rakastal (4515 m), Mansarovar (4530 m), and further south the peaks of Gurla Mandhata (7683m). The circumference of Mansarovar is 90 Km, its depth is 90 m and total area is 320 Sq. Km. The lake freezes in the winters and melts only in spring. It looks unbelievably fascinating on moonlit nights. The circumference of Rakastal , also known as Ravan Hrid, is 22 Km from the corner of which originates the Sutlej river. A 6 Km long channel -Gangachhu- connects Manas with Rakastal. From Tanakpur or Kathgodam one can reach Kailas-Mansarovar via Dharchula - Tawaghat - Lipulekh Darma and Johar valleys. However, at present one can go only through the route chosen by the two governments, and join the pilgrimage conducted by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (Indian Territory) and Tourist Co. of Ali (in Tibet), from June to September, after one has completed all formalities.

Adi-Kailash (Chhota Kailash)

Adi Kailash is an ancient holy place in the Himalayan Range, similar to Mount Kailash in Tibet. This abode of Lord Shiva in a remote area is worth to have a Darshan. Trekking to Adi Kailash in the Himalayan ranges of Kumaun region near the IndoTibetan Border in district Pithoragarh. Upto Gunji the route is same. One walks 14 km, first to the left of Kuti and then to the right, to reach Jollingkong (4572 m). The river Kuti and its bridge will perhaps may be under a thick blanket of snow. Jonglingkong is called Chhota Kailas (6191 m) while its small but beautiful lake is called Parvati Tal. The reflection of the peak in the lake is really fascinating.There is a temple near the lake, which is sometimes visited by swan-like birds. A little distance from here are to be found the remains of a dry lake. Along the river Kuti are two passes - Lampia Dhura and Mangsa Dhura - leading to Tibet. The ITBP and SPF personnel will tell whether one can cross the Sinla pass to reach Bedang. If this is not possible one will have to return. If there is little or no snow, one should set out early in the morning to cross the pass. The route to Sinla pass is under a heavy blanket of snow. One can see the Chhota Kailas peak constantly from there.