Exploring Ranikhet is about walking through orchards and forested roads; visiting temples; and savouring the marvellous vistas. This peaceful cantonment town is situated at a height of 6000 ft, 55 km north of Nainital in Uttarakhand. Sprawling along a ridge, this town is home to Indian Army’s Kumaon Regiment. The forested cantonment area has many old colonial cottages. They can be discovered by walking on one of the many trails the area offers. The biggest charm of Ranikhet lies in its panoramic vistas of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. This beautiful town has grown to become one of the finest travel destinations in Uttarakhand.
Attractions in Ranikhet
This is a government fruit garden with trees of apple, peach, almond, plum etc. It is a good place for a nature walk. To explore the orchards, you can opt for a guided tour of the place. It will introduce you to the different types of trees and the uses of their produce. There is a hilltop church in Chaubatia, but it is mostly closed. From here you can also climb down to Bhalu Dam.
When you are in a hill retreat developed during colonial era, you need to track down its ‘Mall Road’. The mall road of Ranikhet is much different than its counterparts in other popular places. Instead of being crowded, this path is as peaceful as Ranikhet itself. Almost entire path is lined with pine trees. At the centre of the mall, there is a small bazaar with a few provision stores.
Army Golf Course
This golf course is situated at Uphat, 6 km down the Almora Road. It is one of the highest golf courses in the country. This 9-hole golf course was developed in the early 20th century. You can play a game here for a fee.
Majkhali is popular for its panoramic vista of the snow-capped Himalayan Peaks. Situated 12 km from Ranikhet, on Almora Road, Majkhali also has a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali
A short trek from Ranikhet leads to a small artificial lake created by the Bhalu Dam. The surroundings of the lake are pristine and the view of the Himalayan peaks from here is mesmerizing. There is a small garden nearby. This trek is just a km long but is quite invigorating.
Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum
This museum showcases the history of army’s Kumaon Regiment. Apart from the guns of the two world wars, and the Indo-Pak war souvenirs, traditional Kumaoni musical instruments are also on the display. This museum was set up around 1970.
KRC Shawl and Tweed Factory
There are many colonial-era churches in Ranikhet. Most of them are utilized by the army as seminar halls. But one church has been converted into a weaving centre. It is equipped with looms and wheels and here you can watch weavers in action. You can buy the woven items from the shop next door.
Situated in the middle of Ranikhet town, this park was developed by the Ranikhet Cantonment especially for children. It is based on the jungle theme.
Jhula Devi Temple
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is 7 km from Ranikhet on the way to Chaubatia Orchards. It is said that the jungle around the temple was the den of many carnivorous species. The dwellers of the adjoining village were attacked time and again by these animals. So, they prayed to the deity and then a shepherd got a dream in which he was asked by the Goddess to unearth her idol. This is how the temple got constructed. It is one of the most worshipped temples in the region.
Here along with paying your reverence to Lord Shiva, you can also take in the views of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks. This temple is dedicated to a saint called Haidakhan, who was believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple is just about 4 km north-west of Ranikhet.
Binsar Mahadev Temple
This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is 18 km west of Ranikhet town and it shouldn’t be confused with the Binsar temple of Almora. The drive from Ranikhet is enjoyable and the area around the temple is very tranquil. This place lies on Ranikhet-Corbett Road.
This Hindu temple is situated opposite the shawl factory and is adjacent to Narsingh Maidan. Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali are worshipped in this temple.
This temple is situated on a hill near Jhula Devi Temple. It also has a monastery which runs under the guidance of a saint called Mouni Maharaj.
Katarmal Sun Temple
This sun temple, situated at Katarmal, is considered to be next to the Konark’s sun temple in importance. Explorers shouldn’t miss this place. As of now the approach road to Katarmal is a mud track, but it is said that metalled road would be ready soon. You also need to do a short walk from the car park. This temple displays the splendid sculptural art of the bygone era. The main temple is surrounded by small shrines. If you like ancient architecture, this place is for you.
Tarikhet, 8 km from Ranikhet, is known for its ‘Gandhi Kutir’ which is a small cottage where Mahatma Gandhi had once stayed.
It is a small lake with some boating facilities but is in dire need of maintenance. You can easily skip this place.
When to go?
Ranikhet can be visited all year round. But during monsoon (July – September), sometimes the road might not be good. The fauna would be the most vivid during the months of April and May. However, the views are best during the winter.
How to reach?
Air: The nearest airport is at Pantnagar. There is one daily flight of AirIndia from Delhi to Pantnagar. Ranikhet is 109 km from Pantnagar.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam. Ranikhet is 75 km from Kathgodam. Taxis from the railway station take about 3 hours to reach Ranikhet.
Road: Ranikhet is 54 km north of Nainital and is 345 km from Delhi. There are direct buses to Ranikhet from Delhi’s Anand Vihar ISBT.