The temples at Almora can be conveniently divided by two groups, Shaivite temples include the temples dedicated to femaleform of Shiva. In the former group Tripur Sundari, Udyot Chandeshwer and Parbateshwer were erected in 1688, after the victory of Udyot Chand, the then ruler of Almora over Doti and Garhwal, are presently on the hill just above the Lala Bazar. The temple of Parbateshwara was again endowed by the then rulers of Almora, Dip Chand in 1760 and was renamed Dipchandeshwar. This present temple began to be called the Nanda Devi temple when the image of Nanda was removed from the fort by Mr. Trail, a famous British, the then divisional commissioner of Kumaun.
Again eight temples of Bhirava, a form of Siva, were erected during the reign of Gyan Chand to allay the wrath of Bhola Nath. These are:
- Kal Bhairava
- Batuk Bhairav
- Shah Bhairav
- Garhi Bhairava
- Anand Bhairava
- Gaur Bhairava
- Bal Bhairava
- Khutkuniya Bhairava
It seems that eight gates of the city of Shiva are watched by Eight Bhairavas.
There are nine temples dedicated to nine forms of Durga. They are :
- Patal Devi or Patreshwari Devi
- Yakshini Devi
- Rajrajeshwari Devi
- Ulka Devi
- Sitla Devi
- Kot Kalika
- Durga Ratneshwari
Nanda Devi Mandir
The Nanda Devi Mandir was built by the Chand Rajas. The idol of the goddess is located in the antechamber of a Shiva temple and is much revered by the locals. Every September, Almora comes alive as thousands flocks to this temple for the Nanda Devi Mela, a riot of pageantry that lasts for a full five days. The mela is an integral part of this temple for more than 400 years.
Kasar Devi Mandir
Kasar Devi is a village near Almora, Uttarakhand. It is known for the Kasar Devi temple, a Devi temple, dedicated to Kasar Devi, after whom the place is also named. The temple structure dates to the 2nd century CE. Swami Vivekananda visited Kasar Devi in 1890s, and numerous western seeker, Sunyata Baba, Alfred Sorensen and Lama Anagarika Govinda. A place also known for Crank’s Ridge, just outside the village, which was popular destination during the Hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and continues to attract trekkers and tourists, both domestic and foreign.
Chitai Golu Temple, Almora
Situated somewhere about 8kms from Almora, Chitai Golu is quite a famous temple in Uttarakhand. Presided by the deity of Golu Ji, an incarnation of Lord Shiva in the form of Gaur Bhairav, Chitai Temple is easily recognised by the amount of copper bells hung in its premises. Golu Ji is reckoned to be the God of Justice and it is a common belief that when someone worships him in one of his temples in Uttarakhand, Golu Devta provides justice and makes wishes of his devotees come true.
Jhoola Devi Temple, Ranikhet
Blessing Ranikhet and the area around it is Jhoola Devi Temple. The holy shrine is dedicated to Goddess Durga and has been named as Jhoola Devi because the presiding deity is seen seated on a cradle. According to locals this temple is 700 years old and the original deity was stolen in 1959. Like Chitai Golu Temple, this temple is also recognized by the number of bells hanging in its premises. It believed that Jhoola Devi fulfils the wishes of her devotees and after the completion of the wishes; the devotees come here to offer the copper bell.
Jageshwar Dham Temples, Almora
One of the finest examples of architecture in Uttarakhand, Jageshwar Dham is a group of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are 124 big and small temples that look simply beautiful with a gorgeous backdrop of rolling green mountains and a gurgling Jata Ganga stream. As per ASI (Archaeology Survey of India), the temple dates back to post Gupta and pre-medieval era and said to be 2500 years old. Stone lingams, stone sculptures and carving on altars are the highlight of the temple. The temple’s location is ideal for meditation as well.
Binsar Mahadev Temple, Ranikhet
Amidst the thick deodar is situated the holy temple of Binsar Mahadev. Along with its divinity and spiritual ambiance, this place is famed for its impeccable nature’s beauty. Binsar Mahadev is said to have been built in 9/10th Century and thus has been an important religious place in Uttarakhand since ages. With idols of Ganesh, Har Gauri and Maheshmardini, this temple is known for its architectural finesse. The idol of Maheshmardini is engraved with texts in ‘ Nagarilipi ‘ that dates back to 9th century. The shrine is believed to be built by King Pithu in memory of his father Bindu and it is also known as Bindeshwar temple. Overlooking a small stream and surrounded by forest of deodar, pine and oak, this temple makes quite a place to visit in the state.
Gana Nath Temple
Gana Nath Temple, 47 kms from Almora, is famous for its caves and a Shiva temple. During the special Kartik Purnima carnival held at the temple, the entire region echoes with the sounds of rhythmic hymns and captivating folk songs.
Katarmal Temple is a magnificent Surya temple also known as Bara Aditya temple. Katarmal is located about 17 kms from Almora and is positioned at an elevation of 2,116 m. One has to trek almost three kms crossing Hawalbagh and Matela near Kosi River. The Katarmal Temple has the distinction of being the only Sun temple in Kumaon.
Banri Devi Temple
Banri Devi Temple is situated 26 kms from Almora on the Almora-Lamgarha Road. However, out of the 26 kms, one has to trek almost ten kms and hence reaching this temple is extremely arduous. The octagonal temple has an ancient idol of Vishnu with the Sheshnag pose, i.e. the four armed Vishnu sleeping on the Sheshnag.
Gairar Golu Devata
Golu Devata or Lord Golu is the legendary mythological and historical God of the Kumaun region and is their deity. The Dana Golu devata Gairar, temple is about 2 km from the main gate of Binsar wildlife sanctuary & about 15 km. from Almora. Origin Golu Devata is thought to be as an incarnation of Gaur Bhairav (Shiva), and is worshipped all over the region and regarded as the dispenser of justice by the devotees with extreme faith. It is said that Shri Kalyan Singh Bisht ( Kalbisht ) was born at Kotura village near a big village Patiya where Deewan of the king lived. At the very young age Shri Kalbisht overpowered and killed all devils (Shaitaans) of the Kumaon region and always helped the poors and oppressed. Shri Kalbisht was suspiciously beheaded with his own axe by his near relative,who was influenced by the Deewan of Patiya. He was beheaded by the king and his body fell at Gairar at Dana Golu and his head fell at Kaparkhan, a few km from Almora. At Dana Golu, there is the original and most ancient temple of Golu devata. Golu devata is seen in form of Lord Shiva, his brother Kalva devata is in form of Lord Shiva, his brother Kalva devata is in form on Bhairava and Garh Devi is form of Shakti. Golu devata is also prayed as key deity(Ista/ Kula devata) in many villages of Kumaun. Dana Golu devata is known as God of justice and prayed with great pride and enthusiasm. Dana Golu devata is offered with White Cloths, white pagari and white shaal. There are many temples of Golu Devata in Kumaun, and the most popular are at Gairad (Binasr), Chitai, Champawat, Ghorakhal. It is popular belief that Golu Devata dispenses quick justice to the devotee. Devotees in turn offer bells after the fulfillment of their wishes. Thousands of bells of every size can be seen hanging over the temple premises. Many devotees file a lot of written petitions daily, which are received by the temple.