This picturesque town and district has many reasons to be planted deep in my memories as one of my favourite hill stations. The first time I witnessed the beauty of Pithoragarh was back in 1996, when I was just nine years old, and I went there to visit my maternal uncle, Dr. Pathak, a renowned medical practitioner in Pithoragarh who has been my inspiration ever since childhood. This place is one of my beloved holiday destinations, both for its scenic beauty as well as my emotional attachment to it, since it also happens to be my mother’s hometown.
Before I begin writing about this far-off land, let me first give you a basic idea of Pithoragarh: Perched well over 1500 metres above sea-level in the Soar Valley, Pithoragarh is a blissful tourist destination in Uttarakhand. The hill station is accessible by car and bus, and is also referred to as Uttarakhand’s very own “Little Kashmir”, owing to its vast natural beauty and scenic landscapes. Located 463 kilometres from New Delhi, Pithoragarh lies on the Indo-Nepal border, and it is best visited during the summer or winter months. Rainy season is definitely not a good time to go as there are a lot of landslides throughout the way, and it is not advisable to drive down all by yourself if you are not familiar with the winding hilly roads.
The destination, however, is worth the eleven-hour long drive, as it opens up to you a new realm of magnificent valleys, plateaus and the majestic Himalayas. Pithoragarh is located in the middle of four mountains, namely Kedar, Chandak, Kumdar and Dhwaj, and has plenty of nature’s bounties to capture the exploring travel
ler’s imagination. What I would suggest is to keep Pithoragarh as a base camp to tour the town and some of the nearby destinations. Listed below are a few of my favourite attractions in and around Pithoragarh:
Narayan Ashram is a monastery which was set up in the year 1936 by Sri Narayan Swami; a spiritualist and a social reformist. The ashram is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, about 45 kilometres from Pithoragarh and it offers scenic views of the adjoining hills, lush green forests and the overwhelming silence, which is only intensified by the whistling air and chirping birds.
Nestled in the foothills of the Panchachuli range of mountains in Himalayas, alongside the Goriganga River, Munsyari is the Mecca of trekkers and mountaineers. Munsyari is located approximately 125 kilometres away from Pithoragarh and offers a host of sightseeing destinations and breathtaking views of the Himalayas. In fact, this is the closest I have been to the Himalayas till date.
A tea plantation and helipad transformed into a tourist rest house, Chaukori is marvellous in its own manner. If you like the feeling of nothingness around you, the feeling of being free from all the attachments of the world, this is the place to be. Located 90 kilometres from Pithoragarh, Chaukori is 2010 metres above sea-level and offers cosy cottages with scenic views of the Himalayas. When visiting Chaukori, one must also check out the Patal Bhubaneshwar, a historic cave temple or cave city, as some call it.
While in Pithoragarh, one must see the temple at Chandak, which offers mesmerizing views of the Nanda Devi and Panchachuli mountains. Also, the Pithoragarh fort is an interesting site of historical significance within the city. Apart from sightseeing, one can also shop for some exotic herbs and spices like Jambu and Thoya, handicrafts and woollen blankets like Thulma and Chutka, electronic goods at Jhulaghat and savour the local delicacy - Bal Mithai and Singaudi.
If you are an avid traveller and wish to explore the Kumaon region, explore Pithoragarh, and rest assured it will give you
memories to cherish forever, just like me!