The mystical land of mountains and mythologies, Uttarakhand has been a favored destination for nature lovers and explorers across the country. It is also known as ‘Dev Bhoomi’ or ‘The Land of Gods’, as the state houses several majestic and ancient temples and shrines. Along with the ancient shrines and alluring nature, there are also some astounding historical places in Uttarakhand that are hidden away.
The state has an obscure and somewhat lost history that seems to have been swept under the popularity of tourist destinations and centers of pilgrimage. A fascinating history, it simply calls out to be discovered and explored in depth. So, we bring you the best historical places in Uttarakhand that you definitely ought to visit!
Located in the Kumaon region, the town of Bageshwar has a rich religious history. Bageshwar is a renowned holy land associated with Lord Shiva and is located at the confluence of the three rivers – Saryu, Gomti, and Bhagirathi. According to the Skanda Puran, an ancient religious text, it’s known to be a place where sages would come to meditate and worship Lord Shiva. As the town is known for its religious history, it would come as no surprise that it is home to several beautiful temples. too. One of them is the Bagnath Temple, which is believed to have been located at a place where the famed Sage Markandey greeted Lord Shiva in the form of a lion.
Bageshwar is flanked by the Bhileswar and Nileshwar mountains on the east and west sides, the Suraj Kund lake in the north, and the Agni Kund lake in the south, making this a land of great geographical and political significance. Temples like Ram Ghat Temple, Agnikund Temple, Nileshwar Temple, Shitla Devi Temple, Ramji Temple, Jwala Devi Temple, Veni Mahadev Temple, Radha Krishna Temple, and Suraj Kund are a few to mention.
Apart from this, the district also includes the hilltop town of Kausani, which has mesmerizing views and a peaceful atmosphere. Bageshwar is also the base for several trek routes like Sunderdhunga, Kafni and Pindari Glacier, Serenity, and Mountain View.
Built by the Katyuri King Katarmalla between the 9th and 13th centuries, the Katarmal Sun Temple lies in the lush hills of Kumaon. Katarmal Sun Temple is considered the second-most important sun temple in India after Konark Sun Temple (Orissa) and is believed to be the only sun temple located in the hills. Though, fair warning, be prepared for a 2-km steep climb to reach the temple which is located at the top of the hill. But what awaits you is definitely worth the climb!
This brilliantly-articulated architectural wonder perched at 2,116 meters above sea level is simply breathtaking. The primary shrine of the main deity Vraddhaditya (the old Sun God) is surrounded by 45 smaller shrines of other deities. You will find beautiful intricate carvings on the pillars, walls, doors, and panels of the temple structure. You’ll also see paintings and beautiful sculptures made of stone and metal which showcase the level of artistry achieved by the artists of that time.
The temple is a living reminder of architectural dignity and the era’s wealth. One of the most breathtaking parts of the temple is the 360-degree view of the surrounding valley and hills from the top of the temple complex. Katarmal Sun Temple boasts natural beauty, history, adventure, and architectural brilliance, and should be made a part of one’s must-see attractions of Almora.
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Dwarahat is the perfect blend of nature and beauty and is situated about 34 km from Ranikhet. This small town was once the seat of the Katyuri Kingdom. Today, Dwarahat is a small paradise of a town whose name literally means ‘Way to Heaven’! Seated at an elevation of 1510 m above sea level, it is famous for a group of 55 ancient temples. The majestic and timeless temples have the influence of the Gurjari School of Art and are certainly a must-visit in Uttarakhand. This is where the Kumaoni culture and its tradition run deep in the blood of the people living here.
The Katyuri dynasty is known to be responsible for the construction of temples in Dwarahat, and is also believed to be the most prominent dynasty of the Kumaon region. The Katyuris, prior to their defeat at the hands of Chand rulers, made an important contribution to the architectural grandeur of the Garhwal region as well. One of the most visited temples here is the pristine temple of Maa Dunagiri, dedicated to Goddess Durga. And the best time to be a part of the temple is at Navaratri as it dazzles with the lights and offerings of the devotees. Lakhanpur and Badrinath Temple in Dwarahat are more places to visit while touring the town.
Nestled in the beautiful Almora district of the Kumaon region, Chaukhutia is a pristine town located at the meeting point of four travel destinations in Uttarakhand – Ranikhet, Ramnagar, Karanprayag, and Tadagtal. A fun fact about the town's name: it is derived from the word ‘Chau-Khut’ which, in the Kumaoni language, means ‘four feet’. In this context, the name construes the four ways that lead to four different and important places in Uttarakhand.
Situated at an altitude of 1646 meters and seated on the bank of River Ramnagar, Chaukhutia consists of beautiful and ancient forts, temples, and ruins of the Katyuri dynasty which speak the untold story of the past. The town is sort of a hidden gem and its untouched beauty is astonishing in its raw form!
This town rose to fame during the Katyuri rule and has witnessed the rich history of Uttarakhand. The town preserves the remnants of the Katyuri dynasty in the form of its beautiful fort and temples. It is also home to the Pandukholi Caves that were made by Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata during the time of their stay in the town.
Chaukhutia offers a panoramic view of the attractive valley of Dwarahat and the glowing Ramganga River. Other attractions include the Doonagiri and Rudreshwar Mahadev temples, which are truly worth the visit. This town not only attracts devotees, but also explorers, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts.
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Lohaghat is amongst the top historical places in Uttarakhand and a popular tourist destination. Located on the banks of the Lohawati River in the Champawat district, Lohaghat is among the most tranquil and restful tourist places in Uttarakhand. It is an ancient town and is known for its temples that are more than a century old.
This historic city of Lohghat is believed to have witnessed several historical events and each event is believed to have been marked in the pages of history by the construction of one temple at a time. The town has some mythological importance as well, and its main tourist attraction is the Pancheshwar Mahadev Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Apart from this, places like Abbot Mount, Mayawati Ashram, Jhuma Devi, and Advaita Ashram are major attractions here.
Lohaghat is blessed with unblemished natural beauty and picturesque landscapes. During the summer months, the town is covered with rhododendron flowers and this beautiful hill station becomes an ideal place to holiday in Uttarakhand. Lohaghat is covered in thick oak and deodar forests that add to the stunning scenic look of the town, making it an ideal place for nature lovers. It is also known for its grand celebration of Holi and Janmashtami festivals, as the town seems to erupt into colors and comes to life!
This hillside town in recent times has been successful in alluring a large number of visitors. And if you’re a history buff with a thirst for picturesque landscapes, then Lohaghat is the place for you.
Also Read: Almora Travel Guide
Pithoragarh Fort is known by many other names like the ‘London Fort’ and the ‘Gorkha Killa’ and is among the top historical places to visit in Uttarakhand. The history of the construction of this fort has several versions due to the numerous dynasties having spread their roots here.
In one account, it is believed that the fort was built in the 18th century by the Gorkhas located in the erstwhile Almora district of Uttarakhand. Another story narrates that the fort was constructed by Peeru Alias Prithvi Gusain who ruled the region in the Chand Period in the year 1789. The name ‘Pithoragarh’ comes from the Chand dynasty ruler Pithora Chand and the fort is named after the town. Pithoragarh was home to the Chand and the Pal Dynasty rulers and they had quite a tussle with the Gorkhas, hence lies the conflicting history.
Irrespective of how the fort came into existence, it provides an interesting insight into the history of the land and the artistic skills of that time. It is one of the foremost venues that depict the ancient era’s architecture, drawing architecture and history enthusiasts to it. But Pithoragarh proves to be an attractive destination for nature lovers, too.
The fort is located at a height of 1600 ft and bears resemblance to Kashmir, which is why it is also known as ‘Little Kashmir’ or the ‘Kashmir of Uttarakhand’. Little Kashmir is truly a paradise offering an all-in-one package – an architectural masterpiece standing atop a hill, boasting a panoramic view of the beautiful Himalayas.
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Tucked away in the Dehradun district, Kalsi is a small town that is famed for its Ashoka Pillar Rock Edicts. The edict is a compilation of the king’s reforms and advice in Prakrit language and Brahmi Script. It is believed that the Rock Pillar erected here dates back to 450 BC, symbolizing the prosperous era of the Ashokan rule. The rock pillar is 10 ft high and 8 ft wide and has a figure of an elephant that is inscribed in the Brahmi script. It is said that the fourteenth edict of the Mauryan King, Ashoka, was later engraved in 253 BC.
Kalsi is a beautiful tourist destination that serves as the gateway to the Jaunsar-Bawar tribal region and is situated at the meeting point of the rivers, Yamuna and Tons. The town is blessed with lush green forests and trees of oak and sal in its setting. Kalsi boasts of mystical views of the Garhwal Himalayan Ranges and this hill station is a popular picnic spot among the locals as well as tourists.
Another well-visited place in Kalsi is Asan Barrage, which is located where rivers Asan and Yamuna meet and is known as the resting point for several migratory birds. One can also enjoy rafting in the waters of the Yamuna River or visit Timli Pass, the most captivating picnic spot located in Kalsi. Overall, Kalsi offers a lot to unpack and explore!
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Uttarakhand truly has a lot to offer in terms of a history that is rich and intertwined deeply with fascinating mythology. This holiday destination is so much more than simply a picturesque state with magnificent views and pilgrimage centers. Uttarakhand has a lot to unpack and explore in terms of historical importance and the state certainly provides a new light to Indian history.
How Many Historical Places Are There In Uttarakhand?
Uttarakhand is said to be home to at least 30 beautiful historical places which offer a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of the region. These structures and places attract several hundreds of visitors every year. Uttarakhand is a place of many traditions and has been home to renowned sages and old mythological stories that definitely play a major role in the state’s history.
Which Are The Most Visited Places In Uttarakhand?
Some of the most visited places in Uttarakhand are Nainital, Mussoorie, Chakrata, Munsiyari, Rishikesh, Kausani, and Almora.
Which Are The Famous Monuments In Uttarakhand?
The Adi Badri, Baijnath Temple, Baleshwar Temple, Dandeshwar Temple, Jagatram, Jageshwar Mahadev Temple, Katarmal Sun Temple, and Maha Mrityunjaya Temple are some of the most well-known monuments in Uttarakhand.
Which Are The Best Hill Stations In Uttarakhand?
Auli, Mussoorie, Dhanaulti, Chamoli, Mukteshwar, Munsyari, Nainital, Chakrata, Tehri, and Ranikhet are some of the most picturesque hill stations that offer breathtaking views in Uttarakhand.
What Was Uttarakhand's Old Name?
Uttarakhand was previously known as Uttaranchal.
What Languages Are Spoken In Uttarakhand?
Hindi is the main language spoken in Uttarakhand, followed by Punjabi, Nepali, Garhwali and Kumauni.
Is Uttarakhand Part Of Nepal?
Uttarakhand lies in the northwestern part of India and borders the Sudurpashchim Province of Nepal to the east. So to answer your question, Uttarakhand is not part of India.
Which State Is Known As Devbhoomi?
Uttarakhand is known as Devbhoomi.