Almora is a cantonment town in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is located on a ridge at the southern edge of the Kumaon Hills of the Himalayas range. Almora was founded in 1568 by King Kalyan Chand. However, there are accounts of human settlements in the hills and surrounding region in the Mahabharata (8th and 9th century BCE).
Almora got its name from Bhilmora, a kind of sorrel, a short plant used for washing utensils at Katarmal. The people bringing the Bhilmora used to be called Bhilmori and later ‘Almori’ and the place came to be known as “Almora”.
When king Bhishm Chand laid the foundation of the town, he named it Alamnagar. Earlier, it was known as ‘Rajapur’ during the early phase of the Chand rule. And this was mentioned over several ancient copper plates. There is still a place called Rajpur in Almora.
History of Almora
Founding and early history
Tewaris were the earliest inhabitants of Almora. They used to supply Sorrel daily for cleansing the vessels of the sun temple at Katarmal. The city has a primordial account of human settlements mentioned in Vishnu Purana and Mahabharata.
The Sakas, Nagas, Kiratas, Khasas, and Hunas are among the most ancient tribes, followed by the Kauravas and Pandavas of the Hastinapur royal family. The Kulindas and Khasas were probably the strong local chiefs of the region. The Khasas were an early Aryan stock that gave this region the name Khasadesha or Khasamandala.
Chand Dynasty rule
The Chand dynasty became the dominant clan from their inception in 953 AD, after many petty states rivaled each other for supremacy, culminating in the destruction of the prosperous land and establishment of Gurkha rule. In 1563 AD, the Chand dynasty made Almora the seat of the strongest hill power. Later on the kingdom of Kumaon extended over the entire tracts of the districts of Almora and Nainital.
King Udyot Chand erected several temples at Almora, including Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer, and Parbateshwer, to mark his victory over Garhwal and Doti. The Gorkhas of Nepal overran Almora in 1791, marking the beginning of the Anglo-Gorkha war.
Due to their repeated intrusion into British territories in the Terai from 1800 onwards, the Governor-General of India, Lord Moira, attacked Almora in December 1814, marking the beginning of the Anglo-Gorkha war.
The war that broke out in 1814 resulted in the defeat of the Gorkhas. Later led to the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816. According to the treaty, Nepal had to surrender all those territories which the Gorkhas had annexed to the British East India Company. After the war, the old Lal Mandi fort, near Almora, was renamed ‘Fort Moira.’
Unlike neighboring hill stations such as Nainital and Shimla, which were developed by the British, Almora was developed long before by the Chand kings. The place where the present cantonment is located was formerly known as Lalmandi. The ‘Malla Mahal’ of the Chand kings was located where the collectorate exists presently, and the site of the present District Hospital used to be the ‘Talla Mahal’ of the Chand rulers. In 1901, it had a population of 8,596.