Posted/Updated on July 08, 2010
Pithoragarh is a city located in Uttarakhand. It was created out of the Almora district in the year 1962. It is a small town which lies to the centre of the western hall of the Soar Valley. Pithoragarh is so beautiful that it even seems to resemble the Kashmir valley on a miniature scale. It is very pretty and scattered with villages.

The view that the town provides is unmatched with the peaks of Panch Chulhi, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot clearly visible from high spots in the town. Pithoragarh is located in a valley that is known as the "Soar" and lies in the centre of four hills - namely, Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar. It stretches in the southern side to Jhulaghat and to the adjoining Nepal hills. The town of Pithoragarh is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas.

Back in the year 1364, after Pithoragarh was conquered by the Rajwar of Ukko Bharatpal, it was for the rest of the 14th century, ruled by three generations from the Pal dynasty. The kingdom extended right from Pithoragarh to Askot. According to legends, Bhartichand, who was an ancestor of Gyan Chand had replaced Pala who was the ruler of Pithoragarh, after defeating them in the year 1445.

Subsequently, in the 16th century, the Chand dynasty took control over Pithoragarh town and built a new fort. After the area came under the British rule, Pithoragarh remained a Tehsil under Almora district until it was given the title of district in the year 1962.

Pithoragarh derives its name from the traditions of the Rajputs, to name the places they arrived at. It was also the capital of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, also known as Rai Pithora.

Tourist Attractions

Pithoragarh sightseeing includes visiting the different places of tourist attractions, located in and around Pithoragarh. The various tourist attractions of Pithoragarh include the following:

Munsyari: Munsyari acts as the base camp for treks to Milam, Ralam and Namik Glacier, while Dharachula is the base camp for Kailas Mansarovar Yatra, Adi Kailash Yatra and Narayan Swami Ashram. It stands at an altitude of 2,135 metres above sea level and the entire region is known as Johar Valley. Situated around Munsyari are apline lakes of Maheshwari Kund and Thamri Kund.

Pithoragarh Fort: The Pithoragarh fort is located on top of a hill on the outskirts of Pithoragarh. It was built by the Gorkhas back in the year 1789.

Kapileshwar Mahadev: The Kapileshwar Mahadev cave is located about 3 kms. from Pithoragarh. The cave temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it provides a beautiful view of the Soar valley and the Himalayan peaks.

Dhwaj Temple: Dhwaj temple is a very famous shrine that is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Maa Jayanti and is about 10 kms by road and 4 kms on foot from Pithoragarh. It also provides a breathtaking view of the snow capped peaks that surround it.

Nakuleshwara: Situated about 10 kms. from Pithoragarh is Nakuleshwara. Legends have it that the Nakuleshwara temple was built by Nakul and Sahdev (two brothers of Pandavas). The place is located at Athgaon Shilling area.

Askot Sanctuary: This beautiful sanctuary which is located about 54 kms from Pithoragarh nestles at a height of 5412 feet above sea level. It is very popular among wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is a haven for snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, musk deers, snow cocks, tahra, bharals, chirs, koklas, pheasants and chukors. The lush sanctuary area dotted with temples is also a fine place to view the beauty of the Himalayas.

Chaukori: The small hill town of Chaukori provides a great weather and majestic views of snow capped peaks. The entire area is filled with tea gardens and orchards. It is located about 112 kms from Pithoragarh.

Gangolihat: The sacred site is famous for the Hatkalika Fair held on the ashtami of Chaitra month at the Kalika temple. Devotees visit the shrine during this time with drums and flags to pay homage to Goddess Kalika.

Jhulaghat: This small town on the Indo-Nepal border is named after a hanging bridge on the Kali River. One can enter Nepal through this bridge. The small market here deals in Nepali goods and other electronic items.

Narayan Ashram: The ashram was established by Narayan Swami in 1936, about 136 kms north of Pithoragarh and 14 kms from Tawaghat. This spiritual cum socio educational centre is set at an altitude of 2734 metres amidst scenic surroundings. It has a school for local children and imparts training to local youth. There is also a library, meditation room and samadhi sthal.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar: Patal Bhubaneshwar, which literally means the sub-terranian shrine of Lord Shiva is a cave temple located about 91 kms. from Pithoragarh and 14 kms north of Gangolihat. The way to the temple is through a tunnel which leads into a cave and through a narrow dark passage of water.

The main passage also leads to several small caves where the water oozing from limestone rocks has created various shapes arid figures. Some of them resemble various Gods and Goddesses of Hindu mythology. In fact, the cave temple complex is said to be the abode of thousands of deities and people believe that these deities were dedicated by Adi Shankracharya. Large number of pilgrims visits the shrine during the fair of Maha Shivratri every year.

Places to See Near Pithoragarh

Pithoragarh excursions consist of some of the finest places near the city. Excursions around Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand are a must see for those visiting the city. Some of the famous places to visit around Pithoragarh are:

Chandak: Chandak is located about 7 kms. from Pithoragarh, accessible through an uphill climb. About a couple of kilometres from Chandak, the temple of Mostamanu is situated. Chandak offers a fascinating view of the Himalayas and the Soar Valley. It is an absolute heaven for people who are interested in hand gliding. The magnesite mining factory is also located in Chandak.

Thai Kedar: Thai Kedar is located about 16 kms. from Pithoragarh and is famous for the temple of Mahadev that is situated here.

Gangolihat: Located about 77 kms. from Pithoragarh, Gangolihat is a very important religious place that is rich in folk culture and ancient myths. It is particularly known for the famous Mahakali temple where the Shakti Peeth was installed by Adi Shankaracharya. About 2 kms. from Gangolihat, one can find the ruins of the fort which once belonged to the Mankotis who were an obscure dynasty in the Kumaon region.

Baleshwar: Baleshwar is located about 76 kms. from Pithoragarh on the Tankpur Road. Here, one can see the beautiful temples that were built by the early Chand kings in the 8th century. Another important place situated nearby is Shaktipeeth, which was established by Adi Shankaracharya.
Must Visit Naraina Ashram, Dhwaj Temple, Patal Bhuneshwar, Kapileshwar Mahadev
Climate Warm during summers and cold during winters
Ideal Time April to June and September to October
Languages Hindi, Kumaoni and English
Festivals Dhwaj Fair, Punyagiri Fair, Thal Fair, Jauljibi Fairs
Pithoragarh STD Code 05964

Shopping

Though there are not many shops located in Pithoragarh but the visitors visiting the place can get some pretty good deals here nevertheless. There are various decorative items, brass items and other kind of metal utensils that are available at very competitive prices.

The main shopping centres of Pithoragarh are Simalgair , Naya Bazar, Dharamshala, Siltham, Cinema Line and Purana Bazar. Here, one can find many kinds of items, ranging from beautiful designed brass items to woolen garments.

Shoppers can also look for decorative items made of Aipan (Alpana), doka (baskets), hill jatra mukhotas (masks), pichhauras (odhnis), traditional dikaras (clay idols), and colourful rugs and carpets that are made of a mixture of Kumaoni and Tibetan knitting art.

Pithoragarh Weather

Being situated in a valley, Pithoragarh is relatively warm during summer and cool during winters. During the coldest months of December - January, the temperature ranges between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius. Pithoragarh district has an extreme variation in temperature due to the variation in the altitude. The temperature starts rising from mid March until mid June.

However, the areas which are located above 3,500 m remain covered in snow throughout the year. The regions lying between 3,000 to 3,500 metres become snow bound for four to six months. As far as monsoon is concerned, the annual average rainfall is 36.7 cm. After June the district receives Monsoon showers.

How to Reach Pithoragarh

Pithoragarh is an important tourist town of Uttarakhand. It is located in the state of Uttarakhand. The Pithoragarh town is well known for the beautiful vistas that it has. Pithoragarh can be reached in several ways.

By Air: Naini Saini is the airport at Pithoragarh, just 5 Kms. away from the city. However, it is not a regular commercial airport.

By Rail: Tanakpur is the nearest railhead, at a distance of 151 Kms. From Tanakpur, one needs to take a cab or a bus to reach Pithoragarh.

By Road: Pithoragarh is well connected by a good network of roads with all the major towns in the area. The distance from the nearest major towns is Champawat 76 Kms., Lohagharh: 62 Kms., Munsyari: 135 Kms., and Tanakpur: 151 Kms.