Aimless Wanderings in Almora

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Am I dreaming or is this beauty real? One of the charms of Almora.

When I was in Kasar Devi & Binsar for leisure and pleasure, Almora was visited numerous times. It was a cold evening when the actual process of seeing the ‘cultural capital of Kumaon’ finally began to work itself out. I was in the middle of a fabulous summer that was progressing well in Kumaon Himalaya.

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Some gorgeous colours when I arrived one evening.

Me and Bhishma (the guy with whom I would trek to Milam) had come to Almora for breakfast. I had earlier savoured desi ghee jalebi in a sweet shop in the market and had lured Bhishma with the promise of the same! Haha, we weren’t disappointed.

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Desi ghee jalebi… mmm! I don’t know what else can please a Rajasthani more. Ha ha

We had literally smashed all eating records and ate like 10 samosas between us and perhaps 300 grams piping hot jalebi to go with it, literally with cups and cups of chai.

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When I had first alighted in Almora from a shared sumo, this welcomed me! Absolutely divine stuff.

It was to stand us in good stead when we rode to the Sun Temple of Katarmal. I don’t exactly remember how I ended up in Almora one afternoon and started exploring the temples and the old market. Almora is located at approx. 1700m asl and has excellent bus and shared sumo connectivity to other parts of Kumaon.

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First look of Lala Bazaar after the drizzle stopped. A slice from the past.

Local boys had been using the rhyme for Almora ‘Baal, maal and pataal‘. The explanation for the same goes like : Almora is famous for three things, Baal for baal mithai, maal for the gorgeous and stylish ladies of Almora and pataal for the stone tiles used for roofs. The pataal seemed to be long gone, it was all concrete now.

Read : A lost treasure – The biggest home in Kumaon

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Fabulous stone carvings In the Nanda Devi Temple, famous for the Nanda Devi Fair in September.

At first glance, Almora had appeared like another bustling city in the mountains – Growing too fast and akin to a concrete jungle. There were hospitals and new buildings being arranged on the narrow ridge at a frenetic pace. I had then been thrown the gauntlet, upon random conversations with old locals when they had mentioned ‘Lala Bazaar.’ Lala Bazaar is the old market in Almora.

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Ask any Uttarakhandi who doesn’t live in the mountains what they miss most, and the reply will come ‘Kaafal!’

It was a sleepy morning when I had ended up at Diwan Jalebi wala and walked around the clock tower and the colonial post office when I actually thought of exploring the old part of Almora.

Read : All you need to know about Mukteshwar

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Colonial designs of post office of Almora town in Kumaon.

 

Dont zip past Almora on your next trip, let this historic town work its culinary magic on you instead.

The Chand Rajas of Kumaon established Almora as their summer capital in the 16th Century. I was walking in the streets and found myself in the Nanda Devi Temple when it started drizzling.

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Impeccably beautiful, isn’t it?

Then some time was spent chatting up with the founder of Baal Mithai & Singodi sweets – Lala Jogalal Sah, a shop in Lala Bazaar with the most genteel owner. He first made me taste the sweets, told me a few lovely stories and anecdotes behind them and finally packed half a kilo of Baal mithai for me to enjoy!

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The oldest shop in Almora – Apparently they founded Baal Mithai & Singodi. The affable owner is visible too.

I was immediately fond of this old part of Almora and had a sudden desire to see more. As if on cue, the rain stopped and chai and samosas beckoned.

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Rich windows of houses where people still live, Lala Bazaar is the old cultural part of Almora.

The crowds had disappeared too with the rain and that gave me a chance to appreciate the beauty of this cobbled walk-only street. Then I happened to glance up and for a moment thought I was back in Jaipur. A pair of eyes peered at me from the windows on the first floor! The design was intricate and beautifully carved in wood which was quite similar to the 300 year old pink city part of Jaipur.

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A bright shade of blue, the Bazaar easily looked more than a hundred years old.

There were windows in green, various shades of brown, blue and other colours too. On the ground floor, shops made rousing business. It was a delightful hour or so of people watching while sipping chai at many places where the locals were huddled. The weather had suddenly started getting colder.

Also check : Street Photography from Varanasi

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Oblivious to the rare beauty around…

Although I was recommended another place for jalebi in Lala Bazaar, Almora – it didn’t come even close to Diwan’s Jalebi near the post office. Ahh, and the post office was a delight in itself; its a colonial building mostly built in the early 1900s. I have more memories of seeing Almora from a distance from Kasar Devi, where I spent considerable time.

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Clock tower of Almora.

Kasar Devi is hardly 10 kms away from Almora and is located much higher among nature and lovely pine trees. Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated here. I highly recommend it as a must see place in Almora and spend some quiet time away from the city at a quaint homestay.

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Sunset colours as seen from Kasar Devi Temple, on that ridge also lies Almora.

More related articles from Kumaon:

5 offbeat places to spend the entire summer in the hills

Lost and found in Munsyari

Rustic Luxury in the Himalayas

Finding Paradise in Uttarakhand

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. arv! says:

    You’ll start seeing these blue coloured window and doors from almora onwards as you head towards Rudraprayag route. Beyond Almora, some villages have blue color on every door and window.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, well spotted that. I remember once when I tried to get closer to a traditional home in a small village and the villagers didn’t let me come close. Very uncharacteristic of hill people. Their wood art is really beautiful :))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Starting a day with blogs like this makes it very difficult to sit inside the closed while heart wanders on the cobble streets of Almora with your words! I’m following you on your journey; be it here, facebook or instagram. 😛 Kidding! Love your posts! Keep inspiring! 🙂 Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! That made my day. Thanks Gurpreet, for the appreciation. 🙂 Good day to you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Almora looks like quite a pretty town – colorful windows and balconies, clock tower and the spring bloom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On the main road, it appears like an ugly cluster of buildings. I am so glad I asked the locals and walked in the old part of Almora. Fabulous place, as you rightly summarised 🙂 Thanks for checking.

      Like

  4. nitin says:

    it would be great if you can also write about staying options

    Like

    1. Sure, Nitin. I stayed in a nondescript place which wasn’t anything to drive home about. Hence, ended up not mentioning names.

      Like

  5. Alok Singhal says:

    The blooms and the colorful buildings looks very inviting. It seems they welcome tourists with open arms, if I were to make that analogy.

    Happy stopping by here 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is such a beautiful imagination. Many thanks for checking it out and the wonderful words. Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alok Singhal says:

        Welcome, buddy 👍

        Like

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