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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ranikhet, ‘The Meadow of the Queen’ revisited


Ranikhet, ‘The Meadow of the Queen’ revisited


View of Nanda Devi range from Ranikhet


A nature lover's paradise, Ranikhet offers wonderful views of the Western Himalayan ranges.  Ranikhet also presents a stunning view of the reverend Nanda Devi. The scented mountain breeze, fresh and pure, the singing birds, the panoramic view of Himalayas accompanied with the sight, sound and smell, leaves the onlooker spell bound & mesmerized.  Ranikhet is situated in the northern part of the state of Uttaranchal, in the northern region of India. It is situated in the Kumaon hills and is located at an altitude of 1829 m above sea level.  Ranikhet is about 59 kms. from Nainital and about 50 kms. from Almora.  Ranikhet hills offer the tourists a panoramic view of the mighty Himalayan peaks.  The environs of Ranikhet are sylvan, peaceful and attractive. Ranikhet is a cantonment town and is known for its ancient temples. An unusual name, a quaint legend and the sheer beauty of its environs make this Kumaon hill station a wonderful holiday resort.   According to the popular belief this place had won the heart of Rani Padmini, queen of Raja Sudhardev. She chose this scenic place to be her adobe and since then it has come to be known as Ranikhet, whose literal translation means ‘Queens Field/Meadows’.

View of the Ranikhet township

View of Chilyanaula from Ranikhet

Ranikhet, is known for its pristine beauty. The hill station has been a tourist’s haunt for those who want to spend a vacation in lap of nature, far from the maddening crowd of cities. The British troops selected it as their cantonment in 1869 and it also became a summer resort of the British officers.  The cantonment is spread across two ridges, the first, called the Ranikhet ridge, is situated at an elevation of 5,983 ft (1,824 m) and the second, the Chaubattia ridge, is at an elevation of 6,942 ft (2,116 m).  On the opposite spur of this ridge is situated that township of Chilyanaula.  There are a number of tourist attractions in Ranikhet that tourists can visit, both in Ranikhet and outside.

Close up of Nanda Devi from Ranikhet

View of Trishul from Ranikhet

 Some of the major tourist spots within the township are as -
Chaubatia Gardens: It is situated 10kms. from Ranikhet, within the precincts of the military establishments and entry is restricted and one has to make appropriate entry before visiting the spot.  It is renowned for apple orchards. Apart from fruit orchard, one can also walk through a quaint forest trail, assisted by a guide for Rs.100/- and in case both garden and forest trail the rates are Rs.200/- for the guides.   One can also buy fresh juices and honey from Chaubatia Gardens. Picturesque views of the snow capped peaks of the mighty Himalayan range can be seen from Chaubatia Gardens.

View of Himalayan peaks from Chaubatia gardens

Extreme close up of Nanda Devi ranges from Chaubatia gardens

View of Hathi Ghoda peaks from Chaubatia gardens

View of the Panchachuli peaks from Chaubatia gardens

 Jhula (Jhoola) Devi temple

Front facade of Jhoola Devi temple

Jhula Devi temple is an ancient 8th century temple located in a secluded and serene environment near Ranikhet. The main deity of this temple is Goddess Durga and it is believed that Jhula Devi blesses the devotees for fulfilling their wishes. As per the local folklore, the people of the valley were threatened by the tigers & leopards of the region and on consecration of this temple, they & their livestock were spared from the menace.  The spectacular feature of this temple is the majestic cluster of beautifully made bells. The clangs of these bells are heard very long distance. The temple surroundings are beautiful and panoramic view of the distant mountains and peaks is enchanting scenery from here. Many devotees throng to this temple to offer their prayers. A temple dedicated to Lord Ram located nearby is an added attraction.

The presiding deity of Jhula Devi temple

 9-hole golf course is one of the prime attractions of Ranikhet. It is second largest golf course in India. The green meadow of the golf course at such high altitude is simply awesome. Besides, the golf club also offers membership plans for outsiders as well, despite being a military run establishment.

Panoramic view of the golf course in Ranikhet

Bhulla tal is a man made dam about 3 Kms. downhill trek from Chaubatia/Jhoola Devi temple site, but I did not visit it as I was not much impressed with the small lake of same name in Lansdowne.  This lake is man-made and source of water supply to the cantonment.  On way to Majhkhali is the Kali temple stated to be about 5000 years old, but the same being on a hill top, as we were totally drained out after visiting Dunagiri temple and having mounted 400 stairs, we had skipped this destination too.  The sunrise/sunset points either in the Sadar Market area or just below the Kumaon Regimental Centre roads are also worth a visit because of the unparalleled view of the Himalayan ranges. There are other military museums in the township, but I was not much interested in the same and thus, skipped visiting them.

Destinations around Ranikhet

Majhkhali

View of the Himalayan ranges from Majhkhali

is an enchanting destination for its imposing natural beauty and  is located on the Ranikhet - Almora road.  This destination is known for its awesome and tempting celestial view of the Himalayan ranges. The great view of inspiring majestic Sonya peaks of the Himalayan ranges is an unforgettable experience for any visitor. This place is abundantly blessed with the nature’s gifts comprising of a undulating hilly terrains, calm valleys, cool climate and captivating surroundings. It is a quiet place to spend the weekends and evenings.
Tarikhet
Tarikhet is located at a distance of 8 Kms. from Ranikhet is well known for its Gandhi Kuti, and the temple of Golu Devta is venerated in the Kumaon region. Gandhiji spent some time here in 1920’s and was enchanted by this place and is now famous for the Gandhi Kuti and the temple of Golu Devta, on the main road itself.
Binsar Mahadev

The facade of Binsar Mahadev temple - Swarg Ashram

A fox suddenly appeared from the Binsar forest reserve

It is located at a distance of 19 Kms. from from Ranikhet, on the way to Ramnagar amidst dense Pine and Deodar forests. The Shiva Temples of Binsar Mahadev are a unique place for Yoga and spiritual meditation in solitude. Located at an altitude of 2480 mtrs, Binsar Mahadev is an important temple of the region. It is also important for its architectural significance as well. The temple consists idols of Ganesh, Har Gauri and Maheshmardini. The idol of Maheshmardini is engraved with texts in 'Nagiri lipi' (an ancient form of scripture), which indicates the link of temple back to ninth century. The temple was built by King Pithu in memory of his father Bindu is also called Bindeshwar temple. An important fair is held here every year on the occasion of Baikunth chaturdashi in the month of June.
Here are the video links for the destinations -
(1) Ranikhet -
(2)Majhkhali -
(3) Binsar Mahadev -

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