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It is believed that in-order to save earth Lord Vishnu in his second avatar(incarnation) assumed the form of Kurma (the tortoise) and remained standing at a spot for three years which is identified with the Kanadeo hills in the Eastern Gagar range near Chhinapani of Champawat district. The specific rock on which god stood came to be known as Kurmashila, the entire hill Kurmachala; it is from these terms that the name Kumaon was deemed to be derived. It used to be a small region where the river Kali flowed. It was when the power of the Chand dynasty expanded that the name Kumaon gradually came to denote the entire region extending from the snow range in the north to Terai in the south. The Chand dynasty established their capital at Almora and soon the term Kumaon extended to the area now covered by Pithoragarh, Almora and Nainital district. 

The Kumaon region is resplendent with with several ancient Hindu lores. It is said that during the Mahabharata time, Pandavas spent their last year of banishment incognito near Ranikhet .Bhima’s son Ghatotkacha was an important Rakshasha chief of the Kaili Kumaon region. Ghatku temple exists in the Kanadeo hills even now to immortalize his existence. Lying in the Himalayan ranges with its share of valleys and mountains; real estate in Kumaon was coveted very much by the affluent British people who ruled this region from year 1815 onwards. The ridges diverging southward from the mountain mass of Nanda Devi extend in the northern part of the district to the right of Pindar River. A ridge of Nanda Devi runs south-westward along the northern boundary of the district to the peaks viz. NandaKhat (6611m), PanwaliDuar (6663m), Maiktoli (6803m) andMrigthuni (6855m) and goes on till Trishul a peak of the Nanda Devi group. A ridge going southward from the Panwali Duar separates the valley of Sundardhunga from that of the Pindar ending near the confluence of the two streams. The remaining boundary to the north of river Pindar is formed by another ridge descending southward from the Trisul peak and comprising the peaks of Tharkot(6099m), Bethartoli(6275m), Dhak(4268m) and Chovelia(3699m).

Geo-morphologically, the district may be divided into three major unit – the Nag Tibba range, the central terrain of Someshwar & Katyur valleys and the Great Himalayas. The Nag Tibba range forms the southern mountain rampart and runs through Champawat, Devidhura, Mornaula, Almora and Ranikhet to the western boundary. The lofty great Himalayas or the Himadri range extends northwards and culminates in the imposing peaks of Nanda Devi and NandaKot in Chamoli district. 

There are three distinct river systems in Kumaon-

  • Pindar in the north, 
  • Ram-ganga in the west and 
  • Kali in the east. 

Easternmost part of Kumaon is known as Byans valley comprises the river Kali running from Lipulekh (Lipulekh represents a pass connecting India to Tibet and is first Indian border post to be opened for trade with China in 1992) to form natural boundary between India and Nepal. The old pilgrim route to Manasarovar passed along the Kali river vide Lipulekh pass. Gori valley stretches from the town of Munsiyari to Milam and is known as Johar valley also. The beautiful town of Munsiyari offers lovely treks and offers fascinating views of the Panchchuli mountain ranges. One can do a comfortable trek to Milam glacier from here. 

Danpur represents the westernmost part of Kumaon. The Shipton-Tilman exploration of Nanda Devi during 1934 was lent able support from the Danpurians who are regarded as very generous and faithful. Danpur consists of two major valley-Pindari and Sunderdunga. Both these valley are also start point for several beautiful treks that offers fabulous views of the Nanda Devi peak. 

Whether it is trekking in the Himalayas, ambling in the forests, bird-watching, or plain simple recreation, Kumaon region holds ample charm for all these activities. Truly it is a land of many unfolding adventures.



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