Choukori to Almora – A Beautiful Journey Through the Hills of Kumaon

Almora, Choukori

This is the third part of my Nainital Trip Series published after A Memorable Trip to Nainital – The Lake District of India (part I) and A rain-drenched day at ‘Queen’s Meadow’ Ranikhet (part II). Hope you enjoy reading this one too 🙂

Hum jo chalne lage chalne lage hain yeh raaste/ aa ha… manjil se behtar lagne lage hai yeh raaste/ Aao kho jaaye hum Ho jaaye hum yun lapata /Aao milon chale jaana kahan na ho pata…

(Meaning: The road also keeps going as we continue our journey/It feels the journey is better than the destination/ Let’s get lost /Let’s travel with the road not knowing where to go)

The song from my favorite Hindi movie Jab We Met was buzzing in my ears. With winding hilly road as far as eyes can see, pines and cedars lining the road and sunshine on my shoulder (especially after two days of incessant rain) what else I could think of! It was a pleasant, sunny morning. We were headed for Almora after spending the last night in Choukori. Luckily, I could manage the front seat right in the driver’s cabin to enjoy the journey to the fullest.

Almora, Choukori
Sometimes the journey seems better than the destination.

Earlier that morning… we got up at 6:30 and rushed to the balcony of the hotel to get a glimpse of sunrise. It is something you must experience in Choukori, a secluded hill station in Almora District of Uttarakhand. But ‘thanks’ to the ‘Weather God’ we were again deprived of this natural phenomenon, just as we were in Kausani and Ranikhet. When the sun finally peeped out from behind the thick cover of clouds it was already 7:30. 😦

Angan Resort, Choukori
When the sun finally peeped out it was already 7:30

Nevertheless, Angan Resort in Choukori was a beautiful place to stay. There were groves and bushes all around. The garden was in full bloom with cosmos, marigolds and dahlias. The green slopes dotted with cottages created wonderful vista in the soft sunlight.

Angan Resort, Choukori,
That’s our resort in Choukori

But the ultimate joy was yet to come. As the morning grew older the mist dissolved and the sky became clearer. The Himalayan peaks – Nandakot, Panchulli, Trishul – all were shining bright in the daylight. It seemed that the pastures, the hills and the resort – the entire place was surrounded by an array of snow-capped peaks. It was AMAZING!

Just one day ago it was really difficult to imagine a sunny day like this. Weather changes so fast!

Himalayan peaks, Nandakot
Snow white Himalayan peaks were shining bright in the sunlight

The previous day, Kausani to Choukori has been a long journey via Gandhi Ashram, Baijnath Temple and Bageshwar where the rivers Gomati and Sarayu meet.

Gandhi Ashram also called Anasakti Ashram (‘Anasakti’ refers to the spiritual state of selflessness and non-attachment from materialistic pleasure) where Mahatma Gandhi wrote ‘Anasakti Yoga’ (The Gospel of Selfless Action). The ashram has a museum displaying some of the rare photographs of the Mahatma in various stages of his personal and political life.

Gandhi Anasakti Ashram in Kausani
Gandhi Ashram in Kausani – Image: Jean Pierre Chanudaud (Flickr)

Baijnath Temple is a millennia old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Vaidyanath, hence the name Baijnath). It is now an archeological site. Built in 1204 A.D. this temple is one of the oldest continuously worshipped temples in the country.

Baijnath Temple, Himachal Pradesh
Baijnath Temple

Still standing strong the temple is a silent witness of the River Gomati’s journey for over thousands of years.

Gomati River, Baijnath
Gomati River in front of Baijnath Temple

Coming back to where we started … we left Choukori for Almora at 9:30 in the morning.

I think the best thing about the journey from Choukori to Almora (Town) is that you can enjoy the view of snow-white Himalayas all along the way. Our route included Patal Bhubaneswar in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. Patal Bhubaneswar is a natural wonder – an ancient limestone cave with numerous mythological stories hidden in its womb. Descending into the grotto through a narrow opening in the rocks is a thrilling experience which will soon turn into a pleasant surprise as you reach the chamber at the bottom. Camera isn’t allowed inside. And I am in no mood to describe what is inside the cavern. This is for you to discover because some things are better to be discovered than found. 🙂

Hotel Shikhar was our immediate destination in Almora. Our stay in this moderate budget hotel was really enjoyable. Its strategic location allows easy access to the bustling town center and market. You can also spend hours sitting on the terrace watching at the Himalayas and soak in the scenic beauty of Kumaon hills.

Hotel Shikhar Almora
View from the hotel’s terrace in Almora

The next morning was scheduled for Almora sightseeing.

Our first stop was Ramkrishna Kutir, a small monastery operated by the Belur Math. The monastery, nestled in the lap of the mountain, offers a peaceful resort for prayer and meditation for everyone in search of peace and salvation.

Ramakrishna Kutir, Almora scenic beauty
the mountain offers a peaceful resort for prayer and meditation

The star attraction of Almora Zoo is definitely leopards. These leopards are found in the jungles of Kumaon Himalayas and they are the protagonist of the book Man-Eaters of Kumaon by the famous naturalist-hunter Edward James Corbett, popularly known as Jim Corbett in Northern India.

Leopard at the zoo, Almora, Nainital
A female leopard at the zoo

Our next destination was Golu Devata ka Mandir – the temple of Lord Golu, a deity seen as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and is widely worshipped in the villages of Kumaon.  It was a small but beautiful temple boasting hundreds of thousands of wishing bells. They say if you write down your wishes on a paper and tie it with a bell in this temple your wish will come true. The existence of uncountable bells and letters is perhaps the proof if it! 🙂

Golu Devta ka Mandir, Temple of Lord Golu, Almora
the temple having millions of wishing bells

However, here are a few more glimpses of Almora’s scenic beauty for your eyes only 😉

Himalayan peaks, Almora, Kumaon
Soak in the beauty of the Himalayas
Almora town, Kumaon, Uttarakhand
Almora Town

After completing our sightseeing in Almora we returned to the hotel. We had to pack our bags for the next leg of our trip which was from Almora to Lucknow by 13020 Bagh Express which departs from Kathgodam at 9:55 at night.

See you in Lucknow…

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