Flora and Fauna
Almora has a rich diversity of natural vegetation, with about 4000 species of plants, owing to its great range of elevation. The variation in climatic conditions, precipitation, nature of valleys, and alignment of ranges determine the altitudinal growth and variety of vegetation. The flora of this region may be classified into tropical, subtropical, alpine and sub-alpine vegetation. The alpine and subalpine zones are said to home the largest number of medicinal plants.
The subalpine zones of Almora and its outskirts act as a natural sanctuary for leopard, languar, Himalayan black bear, kakar, goral, etc. The high altitude zones house musk deer, popularly known as 'Kastura Mrig', snow leopard, blue sheep, thar, etc. the entire region is rich in a remarkable variety of birds possessing magnificent designs and colors- like peacock, grey quail, black francolin/ 'Kala titar', whistling thrush, chakol, monal, cheer pheasant, koklas pheasant, etc.
Almora was previously known as 'Rajpur' during the early phase of Chand rule, which is mentioned over a number of ancient copper plates. When King Bhisham Chand laid the foundation of this town, he had initially named it as ‘Alamnagar’.
However, popular belief states that Alora got its name from the term 'kilmora'., a short plant found in the nearby region which was used for washing utensils of the Sun Temple at Katarmal. The people bringing kilmora were known as ‘kilmori’ and later came to be known as 'almori'. The place came to be known as ‘Almora’.
Adventure Sports in Almora
Almora is located in the Kumaon mountain range and is one of the most popular destinations in India for mountain biking. Since it is easy to reach Almora and the altitude is relatively low, one does not need too much training to bike here. Many shops and resorts rent bikes by the hour or by the day, and you can enjoy cycling across the rugged mountain paths.
Almora is an excellent place to explore various valleys, plains and forested areas on the bike and many roads are lined with flowers. Fruit orchards and pine trees that are most loved by bikers. Trekking is another activity that draws adventurers to Almora. Many routes that go deeper into the Himalayas start from Almora, and there is also a single day to weekend treks near the town. The smaller treks are famous for the bird and animal life the trekkers get to experience on the route.
The Rich History and Culture of Almora
Unlike most other hill stations in Northern India, Almora was not developed by the British as a summer retreat. It was the capital of the Chand dynasty that ruled the Kumaon region for over a thousand years until they were ousted by the British. Despite this, Almora has preserved its unique culture over the years and today is known as the cultural capital of the Kumaon. This is reflected in many daily aspects like the style of building houses, the food consumed by people, the way of celebrating festivals, worshipping deities and the language. There are many monuments, old temples and museums that celebrate this rich history. The Govind Vallabh Pant Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts, paintings, sculptures and weapons as old as 2nd Century AD chronicling the rise and fall of the Chand dynasty. The two famous temples in the town are the Nanda Devi temple and Kasar Devi temple, both dedicated to mountain goddesses widely worshipped in the region.