The beautiful and enthralling hill station and cantonment town of Ranikhet (meaning Queen’s Meadow) is located at an altitude of 6,132 ft. in the Kumaon Hills in the Almora district of Uttarakhand, India. Blessed with a pleasant climate, Ranikhet is surrounded by picturesque pine, oak and deodar forests and gives wonderful views of the Western Himalayan Mountain Range.
The forests are home to exotic wildlife like leopards, leopard cats, mountain goats, barking deer, sambhar, pine martens, Indian hares, red faced monkeys, jackals, langurs, red foxes and porcupines. Ranikhet is an ideal spot for trekking to places like Kausani, Dunagiri and Sitalakhet.
The must-see attractions of Ranikhet include:
1. Chaubatia Orchards
The lush Chaubatia Orchards are located at a distance of 10 km from Ranikhet at the junction of 4 paths interlinking Ranikhet, Bhargaon, Pilkholi and Dehrti. Delicious apples, peaches, plums and apricots are grown here. One can also see the dense forests of silver oak, rhododendron, cypress, cedar and pine. Chaubatia Orchards are an ideal place for picnics. The Government Apple Garden & the Fruit Research Center and the Bhalu Dam are close by and are worth a visit.
2. Upat and Kalika
Upat is at a distance of 5 km from Ranikhet and gives a spectacular view of the surrounding snow capped Himalayan Mountains. The 9 hole golf course draws avid golfers to this place. Kalika, famous for Kalika Temple is situated about 1 km from Upat.
3. Jhoola Devi Temple and Ram Mandir Temple
One of the oldest temples in Uttarakhand dating back to the 8th century AD, Jhoola Devi Temple is situated at a distance of 7 km from Ranikhet. It is believed that the temple was built to seek Goddess Durga’s protection from the wild animals. Ram Mandir (Temple) is on the top of the Jhoola Devi Temple.
Majhkhali village offering magnificent views of the surrounding snow capped mountains is situated on the Ranikhet Almora road at a distance of 10 km from Ranikhet.
5. Rani Jheel
A large artificial lake, Rani Jheel is situated between 2 natural ridges of Ranikhet. It was built for the purpose of rain water harvesting.
6. Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum and Memorial
Kumaon Regimental Museum and Memorial is dedicated to the brave fallen soldiers of the army. The memorial was built in 1974 and the museum in 1978. A parade is held at this place every year. The museum preserves and exhibits the legacy and customs of the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army.
Located about 22 km from Ranikhet is the scenic village of Khairna. It is also an ideal spot for swimming.
The cute little village of Tarikhet is at a distance of 8 km from Ranikhet. Tarikhet played an important role in India’s freedom struggle. Gandhi Kuti, where Mahatma Gandhi once stayed is a highlight of this village. The Golu Devta Temple attracts large number of devotees every year. Tarikhet has a serene atmosphere and is the place to visit to unwind and relax.
The resort of Sitlakhet is on the Syahi Devi Hill and at a distance of 35 km from Ranikhet. It is famous for its orchards and herbal and medicinal plants. The Katarmal Sun Temple, the Syahi Devi Temple and the Kafni Glacier at an altitude of 3,870 m are worth visiting.
The archaeologically and historically significant town of Dwarahat (meaning Way of Heaven) is situated on NH87 at an altitude 1,510 m and a distance of 38 km from Ranikhet. There are around 55 ancient temples in this town – Shakti Temple and Naithna Devi Temple being among the important ones. The Syalde Bikhauti Fair is held on Vishuwat Sankranti day in April every year. Other festivals include Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Herala and Bhaitauli, Olgia, Khatarua, Bat Savitri and Ganga Dusshera.
Described as India’s Switzerland by Mahatma Gandhi, Kausani is situated at an altitude of 1,890 m at a distance of 85 km from Ranikhet. With fruit orchards and pine forested hills, Kausani is a beautiful place to visit. One can have spectacular views of the mountains surrounding Kausani from the Anakshakti Ashram.
12. Binsar Hill
Binsar Hill or Jhandi Dhar is at a distance of 104 km from Ranikhet at an altitude of 2,412 m. Binsar Hill has a temple dedicated to Shiv called Bineswar Temple or Binsar Mahadev Temple. The temple houses idols of Ganesh, Har Gauri and Maheshmardini. A large number of devotees converge here on Baikunth Chaturdashi in June. Ferns, hanging moss and several species of wild flowers are found on this hill. The sides of the Binsar Hill are covered with oak and rhododendron forests.
The scenic hill station of Almora is 50 km from Ranikhet. Places to visit in and around Almora include Shiv Temple, Nanda Devi Temple, Almora Bazaar, Khajanchi Mohalla, Tamta Mohalla, Almora Fort (converted into The Collectorate), Kalimutt (Or Kalimath), Martola, Govind Vallabh Pant Public Museum and Simtola.
The picturesque town of Nainital is situated at a distance of 59 km from Ranikhet. Interesting places to visit in and around Nainital include Lake Nainital, Mall Road, The Flats, Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo, Caves Garden, Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Hanuman Garhi, Land’s End, Dorothy Seat & Tiffin Top and Snow View Point.
Bageshwar is 107 km from Ranikhet and is located on the bank of the Rivers Saryu and Gomti. The Bagnath Temple complex, a 14th century temple complex is situated very near the Pindari Glacier. Bhairav Temple, Dattatrey Maharaj, Ganga Mai Temple, Hanuman Temple, Durga Temple, Kalika Temple, Thingal Bhairav Temple, Panchnam Junakhara and the Vaneswar Temple comprise the Bagnath Temple complex. Uttaryani Fair is held on the 14th of January to mark the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Festivals like Kartik Purnima, Shivratri Fair, Bikhauti and Harela are also celebrated with great fervor.
The historical town of Baijnath, famed for its 12th and 13th century temples, is at a distance of 90 km from Ranikhet. The famous Shiv Vaidyanath Temple dating back to the 13th century is found here and has the idols of Ganga and Yamuna, the image of Surya, the Sun God and Shiv Vaidyanath lingam. The temple features aesthetic balcony windows and wonderful carvings.
17. Jim Corbett National Park
Situated at a distance of 90 km from Ranikhet is the beautiful Jim Corbett National Park at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Ramnagar in the District of Nainital in Uttarakhand. The park covers an area of 521 square km. Jim Corbett National Park boasts of 33 species of grass and bamboo, 110 species of trees and 51 species of shrubs. The fauna includes Royal Bengal Tigers, jungle cats, fishing cats, leopard cats, black bucks, chital, sloth bears, Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongooses, otters, goat antelopes, Indian pangolins, langurs and rhesus monkeys. November to May is the best time to visit Corbett National Park.
Location: Ranikhet is located in the Kumaon Hills in the Almora district of Uttarakhand state in India.
Altitude: Ranikhet is located at an altitude of 1,869 m or 6,132 ft.
Climate: Ranikhet is blessed with a pleasant climate with average annual temperature ranging from 7.6°C to 18°C. The summer season is from March to June and is mild with temperature ranging from 8°C to 30°C. Winter is from November to February with the months of December, January and February experiencing snow fall. Winter temperature ranges from 3°C to 9°C. The monsoon between June to August brings an average annual rainfall of 1,294.5 mm (50 in). Light woolen clothing in summer and heavy woolen clothing in winter is recommended.
Best Time to Travel: April to June and September to October is the best time to visit Ranikhet.
Accommodation: Budget hotels, luxury hotels, tourist resorts, lodges and guest houses are available.
By Flight: Pantnagar, at a distance of 119 km is the nearest airport to Ranikhet. Delhi is the nearest international airport at a distance of 350 km. Flights are available from Delhi to Pantnagar Airport. One can take a taxi or bus from Pantnagar Airport to reach Ranikhet.
By Train: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station to Ranikhet at a distance of about 85 km. The next nearest railway station is at Ramnagar at a distance of 96 km. Trains from Delhi and Ludhiana to Kathgodam are available. One can take a taxi from Kathgodam Railway Station to reach Ranikhet.
By Road: Ranikhet is well connected by roads to major towns and cities. Ranikhet is at a distance of 386 km from Delhi, 59 km from Nainital, 50 km from Almora, 85 km from Kathgodam, 372 km from Ludhiana and 75 km from Kausani. There are regular bus services from Delhi, Nainital, Almora, Kathgodam and Kausani to Ranikhet. It takes around 8 hours to drive from Delhi to Ranikhet via Moradabad and Haldwani. The driving time to Ranikhet from Nainital and Almora is 3 hours and from Kathgodam and Kausani is 4 hours.