Ranikhet is situated about 72 km from Nainital in the Kumaon hills at 6,000 feet. Ranikhet means the Queen's meadow. Ranikhet is set along a 1,800 m high ridge and covered with pine and oak forests, giving very little indication of where its centre is. This is one of its attractions in that there are many enjoyable walks. The views from the ridge are magnificent and the twin peaks of Nanda Devi (7.816 m) can be clearly seen. There are plenty of museums, temples, lively bazaars and orchards full of fruit in Ranikhet. Ranikhet is also a great place where one can relax and gaze leisurely at the majestic snow-clad Himalayas.
History of Ranikeht
Ages ago, a Kumaoni queen, Rani Padmini fell so deeply in love with the green glades and meadows of a tiny hill paradise that her king, Raja Sukherdev, built her a grand palace there and named the place as Ranikhet or queen’s meadow. There is no trace of a palace to lend credence to this legend, but few who have visited Ranikhet have any doubts about its charm. In 1869, the land was bought from local villagers and the British established a summer resort and recreation settlement for their troops, and a cantonment town governed by the military authorities. They also developed a hill station here. At one time, Lord Mayo, Viceroy of India, was so enchanted with the place that he wanted to move the summer Headquarters of the army away from Shimla. That did not happen but Ranikhet became and still is the Regimental Centre or the Kumaon Regiment.
Shopping in Ranikhet
Sadar Bazaar is the main shopping area, and has a number of small restaurants and hotels. The bazaar in the noisiest and most crowded part of the town.
Tourist Attractions in Ranikhet
The main tourist attractions in Ranikhet are Chaubatia, Upat, Bhalu Dam, Majhkhali, Cooperative Drug Factory and Tarikhet.
Chaubatia means the place where four roads meet. Chaubatia is situated about 10 km to the south of Ranikhet. Chaubatia was originally a sanatorium for British troops, but it now houses the Government Fruit Garden and Research Station which grows 200 varieties of fruit. The Himalayan peaks can be seen very close from Chaubatia. A 3 km walk from Chaubatia leads to the artificial lake of Bhaludam.
Upat is situated about 6 km from Sadar Bazaar on Almora Road. Upat is the site of one of the highest golf course, with views of the Great Himalayas. Upat offers golfing at high altitudes, where a high-powered shot can land far, far below in the valley. The visitors can have a game of golf at the Army Golf Course in Upat. An old temple dedicated to goddess Kali lies just a kilometer away from Upat, at Kalika.
Bhalu Dam is an artificial lake on the Kosi River, about 3.2 km away from Ranikhet. This dam supplies Ranikhet with its water and is popular for fishing.
Cooperative Drug Factory
The Cooperative Drug Factory is known for the production and research of Ayurvedic medicines. This factory is situated at a distance of 3 km on the Ranikhet Ramnagar Road. It has a nursery of medicinal herbs and shrubs. One can buy Ayurvedic medicines, especially high quality Chyawanprash from here.
Tarikhet is situated about 8 km from Ranikhet. This place is famous for the Gandhi Kuti, a small hut in which Gandhiji once stayed, and the highly venerated temple of Golu Devta. Bhagirath Pandey and his associates had started the non-cooperation movement in this region by establishing the Prem Vidyalaya, which was visited by Gandhiji in 1929.
Sitlakhet, Excursion from Ranikhet
Sitlakhet is situated about 26 km from Ranikhet. Sitlakhet offers more spectacular views of the Himalayas. It is full of lush orchards and also well known for its herbal and medicinal plants. The Syahi Devi Temple and Khoont, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Pandit Gobind Vallabh Pant are also situated here.
The Dunagiri mountain is situated about 52 km from Ranikhet and 14 km from Dwarahat. Dunagiri is known for the famous temple of Durga. It is believed that the bronze plate in the temple dates back to 1181 A.D. This temple stands majestically on a hilltop and attracts a large number of pilgrims every year.
Dwarahat is situated about 35 km from Ranikhet on the Badrinath road. It was the seat of the Katuri Dynasty in the 16th century. The town has a cluster of old temples decorated with sculptures. The Syalde Bikhoti Mela is also held here annually.
Manila which means enchanting is situated about 75 km from Ranikhet and Ramnagar. Manila is the seat of Manila Devi, the family Goddess of Katyuri clan. The two temples of Manila Devi are worth visiting and nearby is the original village of Manrals, belonging to one of the Katyuri clans. The forests and Himalayan views from this hill, which is spread from Sadar to Dotiyal, are worth visiting.
How to get here
The nearest airport is located at Pantnagar.
The nearest railway station is located in Kathgodam.
Ranikhet is well connected with other places in the region including Nainital, Almora and Ramnagar.