Spread out over a hilltop overlooking terraced fields, 67km north of Nainital, Almora (1646m) is Kumaon’s official and cultural capital. Founded by the Chand dynasty in 1560, and occupied successively by the Gurkhas and the British, it remains a major market town, and has attracted an eclectic assortment of visitors over the years, including Swami Vivekananda, Timothy Leary and the Tibetologist author of The Way of the White Clouds, Lama Angarika Govinda. While many foreign visitors prefer the nearby traveller colony of Kasar Devi, around 8km north, Almora makes a practical base for regional excursions.

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