Monday, September 25, 2023

Unraveling the Top 10 Places to Visit in Pithoragarh

Tucked in a small valley at an elevation of 1,646 meters amidst the majestic peaks, Pithoragarh is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With awe-inspiring landscapes, peaceful ambiance, and rich cultural heritage, this sleepy little town attracts nature enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies, and spiritual seekers alike. Let’s put this firmly on your radar with a list of the top places to visit in Pithoragarh.

  • Suggested Reading: Pithoragarh: Your Travel Guide to The Enchanting Himalayan Gem

Join me, as I explore the splendor of Pithoragarh’s best places to visit, and celebrate the beautifully preserved harmony between mankind and nature in this small yet significant town. So pack your bags, let wanderlust be your guide, and allow the charm of Pithoragarh to cast its spell on you, leaving you longing for more. For someone born and bred in Uttarakhand, Pithoragarh is an overly familiar territory for me. So, I take this as an opportunity to make it yours as well.

Top 10 Places to Visit in Pithoragarh

Let’s guide you through Pithoragarh’s best sights, sounds, and smells that will spellbind and enchant you. Whether you’re an intrepid traveler seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures or a peace-seeker yearning for a serene escape, there’s something for everyone to explore, discover, and enjoy. I assure you an experience that will remain etched in your heart long after the journey is over.

1. Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh: Gangolihat

GangolihatLocated at 5,773 feet high hilltop, Gangolihat is a calm little town with so much to offer. Surrounded by Saryu and Ramganga rivers, the town is home to some ancient temples, historical underground caves, and friendly people. It is also a vantage point for panoramic views of towering peaks, such as Kailash and Panchchuli. The town is 78 km from Pithoragarh, reachable in 2.30 hours via NH9 and NH309A. Gangolihat is a full-day destination, offering sightseeing, picnicking, and trekking options.

District: Pithoragarh Area: 7 km2 (3 sq mi)
Elevation: 1,760 m (5,770 ft) Rivers: Saryu and Ramganga
Coordinates: 29.48°N 80.05°E Ancient Name: Gangavali


Gangolihat is a small town but its presence on the tourism landscape is big. Here’s what to explore.

1. Haat Kalika Mandir: 

Shrouded in legends and myths, Haat Kalika Mandir is one of the historical places in Uttarakhand preserved by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). A local elderly, Jai Ram Dasoni told me, “On his way to Kedarnath, Adi Shankaracharya performed Tapsya here to seek the blessings of Adi Shakti. The Haat Kalika Mandir, as a Mahakali Shakti Peeth, commemorates that event. From common folks to the Armed Forces of India, everyone comes here to seek divine intervention. The temple hosts a massive fair during the festival of Navaratri, where locals offer sacrifices and pujas.”

2. Patal Bhuvaneshwar:

Just head 14 km from Gangolihat, and a 160 m long and 90 feet deep (from the point of entrance) cave awaits you. Once you set foot inside its narrow opening, several limestone caves greet you. The limestone formations in these caves resemble different Hindu gods, some of which like Ganesh and Shivling are easily identifiable. Devotees consider the cave premises to be the abode of Lord Shiva. At a stone’s throw from the cave complex is another local attraction, the Goddess Kali temple.

3. Other Attractions:

When in Gangolihat, you can also consider visiting other temples and sacred sites, such as ‘Ambika Dewaal’, ‘Chamunda Mandir, and ‘Vaishnavi Mandir.’ Feel free to explore other underground caves like ‘Mukteshwar Gufa’ and ‘Shailashwer Gufa,’ if you found Patal Bhuvneshwar too enriching.

  • Engagement Duration: 5 to 6 hours
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 78 Km

2. Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh: Munsiyari

MunsiyariMunsiyari, a charming and peaceful hill station, is one of the top places to visit in Pithoragarh for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Sitting pretty at a height of 2,200 meters amidst the snow-capped peaks of the Kumaon Himalayas, this small town offers breathtaking vistas, unspoiled landscapes, and a serene ambiance. It is about 127 km from Pithoragrh, reachable in around 4 hours via NH9 and Jauljibi – Madkote Road. You need at least two days to fully explore Munsiyari’s charm.

  • Suggested Reading: Munsiyari – History, Timing, Places & More

The name “Munsiyari” translates to “a place with snow,” and true to its name, this town blankets itself with pristine snow during the winter months. No wonder, it is a winter wonderland for those seeking snowy adventures. However, you can feel the charm of Munsiyari throughout the year, as each season brings its own unique delights. As the local saying goes, Sara Sansar Ek Munsyar, meaning one visit to Munisiyar is “equivalent to visiting the entire world.” Trust me, it’s true.

District: Pithoragarh Elevation: 2,200 m (7,200 ft) 
Valley: Johar Valley River: Goriganga River
Coordinates: 30.0715° N, 80.2373° E  Name Meaning: A Place with Snow


There’s a lot you can do in Munsiyari, from sightseeing and trekking to wildlife watching and birding.

1. Sightseeing:

Munsayari offers some stunning sightseeing options, from snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and pristine waterfalls to ancient temples, and gorgeous lakes. Your options include Madkot Village, Birthi Falls, Chirkila Dam, Betulidhar, Maheshwari Kund, Thamari Kund, Nanda Devi Temple, and Darkot. These Pithoragarh places to visit are a sight to behold and a soothing retreat for the soul.

2. Trekking:

Munsiyari is a trekker’s paradise, with various trekking trails leading to mesmerizing destinations. The Khaliya Top Trek and the Milam Glacier Trek are popular choices, offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. No wonder, trekkers and mountaineers throng this place in spring and summer.

3. Yoga and Meditation:

On my last visit, I stumbled upon Rishab Mehra, a young Delhi-based entrepreneur, who visits Munsayari every year to engage in yoga and meditation. The calm environment, fine weather, and pure air are ideal for such undertakings that rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.

4. Wildlife Spotting:

Explore the biodiverse landscapes around Munsiyari and spot some of the region’s unique wildlife. Keep an eye out for Himalayan tahrs, bharals (blue sheep), and if you’re lucky, even snow leopards.

5. Camping:

When in Munsiyari, you are free to pitch a camp amidst the picturesque surroundings and enjoy a night under the stars. The clear and unpolluted sky offers a wonderful opportunity for stargazing.

6. Adventure Sports:

Even if you are an adventure seeker, this beautiful hill station in Uttarakhand makes sense. Whether you are a fan of paragliding, rock climbing, or rappelling, Munsiyari has you fully covered.

7. Sunrise & Sunset:

The majestic Panchachuli peaks, comprising five snow-capped Himalayan summits, reflect the golden hues of sunrise and sunset. When in Munsiyari, you cannot afford to miss these spectacles.

  • Engagement Duration: At least two days
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 127 km (4 hours)

3. Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh: Didihat

DidihatIf you are craving an escape into the Himalayan wilderness, Didihat should be on your bucket list. Situated at an altitude of around 1,725 meters (5,659 feet) above sea level, this small yet charming town offers unspoiled natural beauty for you to explore and cherish. According to a local, Ravindra Joshi, “The town gets its name from the shape of the ridge on which it is located. The word, Didihat is made of two words, ‘Dand,’ meaning a small hillock, and ‘Hati,’ standing for an elephant.”

District: Pithoragarh Area: 4 km2 (2 sq mi)
Elevation: 1,850 m (6,070 ft) Local Dialect: Sirali 
Coordinates: 29.97°N 80.15°E   Name Meaning: Elephant-shaped Hill

If you take NH9, the 70-km journey from Pithoragarh to Dilihat will take 2 hr 45 minutes. However, if you go via Thal – Muwani Road, you’ll be covering 85.3 km in about 3hrs and 30 minutes. While this is an all-year destination, you should avoid a trip during monsoons when the risk of flash floods and broken roads runs high. For me, the best time to visit is during Spring when the town comes alive to celebrate the famous Uttarakhandi/Khadi Holi. The spectacle of an event lasts for two weeks.

  • Suggested Reading: Top Festivals of Uttarakhand – Celebrating Culture and Spirituality 


Your Didihat journey should include the following activities for the best possible experience.

1. Sightseeing:

If you missed out on Patal Bhuvaneshwar on your Gangolihat trip, it’s time to do now. This unique spiritual and geological marvel is just 14 kilometers away from Didihat. the two neighboring towns of Jauljibi and Dharchula offer scenic views of the Kali River and the Indo-Nepal border. Jauljibi is also famous for its annual fair held at the confluence of the Kali and Gori Rivers. Visit Chirkila Dam to be mesmerized by the turquoise waters, a serene reservoir, and the lush green surroundings.

2. Wildlife Viewing:

If a wildlife adventure is on your mind, don’t miss out on Askot. This small town is home to Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its rich biodiversity and diverse flora and fauna. Expect to get a glimpse of some endangered species, including the snow leopard, musk deer, and bharal (blue sheep). To get to Askot, you’ll be traveling 32.7 km (1 hr 24 minvia Bageshwar – Didihat Road.

  • Suggested Reading: Bageshwar – History, Attractions, & Why Visit Bageshwar
3. Trekking and Nature Walks:

Your Didihat visit is incomplete without exploring the verdant hills and picturesque trails around Didihat through treks and nature walks. Besides the lush greenery, calm ambiance, and diverse flora and fauna, you would come across stunning views of the majestic Panchachuli and Trishul peaks.

4. Local Culture:

Roam freely in the local market to experience the local culture and taste traditional Kumaoni cuisine, especially the famed sweet dish “Khaichua,” made of Khoya. Also, don’t forget to shop for fresh produce, spices, and local handicrafts that serve as worthy keepsakes and gift items.

  • Engagement Duration: At least two days
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 70 km (2 hr 45 min.)

4. Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh: Arjuneshwar Temple

Arjuneshwar TempleArjuneshwar Temple has to be one of the top places to visit in Pithoragarh. It’s an ancient temple that attracts devotees, peace-seekers, and trekkers for the most part of the year. The temple priest told me, “The temple’s history dates back to the Dvapar Yuga when the Pandavas ventured into this area during their exile. Arjuna built this temple to honor Lord Shiva, hence, the name, Arjunehwar.”

District: Pithoragarh Elevation: 1828 m (6000 feet)
Coordinates: 29.5829° N, 80.2182° E  Named After: Arjuna, the archer

Nestled on a small hill at a height of 1828 m (6000 feet) above sea level, the temple deserves a visit just for its peaceful and spiritual ambiance. Located just 10 km from Pithoragarh town, you will find it idyllically placed amidst lush green surroundings away from the hustle of the city. This sacred site remains accessible all year round via road. Better still, you can hike your way to it.   


It is not for nothing that the site is one of Pithoragarh’s most popular tourist attractions.

1. Architecture:

Like most temples in Uttarakhand, Arjuneshwar Mandir also features Nagara architecture. Herein, the pointed Shikhara is located just above the sanctum sanctorum (Garbagriha), which houses the main idol of Lord Shiva. The mandap is spacious enough to accommodate about 50 people during Aarti. You will also come across intricate carvings depicting various mythical creatures and events.

  • Suggested Reading: Top 10 Famous Temples In Uttarakhand You Must Visit
2. Cluster of Temples:

While Lord Shiva is the temple’s presiding deity, other temples dedicated to other deities are also present here. These include Gangnath, Bhumia, Airi, Chamu, Badan, Haru, Balchan, Churmal, Gabila, and Chipla temples. However, you might be denied entry into some temples, as they are reserved for specific castes and families. Other key sacred sites in the vicinity include the Laxminarayan Temple, Shivalaya, Chatkeshwar Temple, Gurna Devi Temple, and Igyara Devi Temple.

3. Trekking & Picnicking:

If you can walk 10 kilometers, trekking your way to the Arjuneshwar temple could be a great option. The trek is moderate with some steep climbs to deal with. However, the stunning landscapes, cool breeze, and sense of accomplishment will make up for all the trouble. The open meadows also serve as great picnicking spots where you can spend some quality time with your family and friends.

  • Engagement Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 10 km (24 min.)

5. Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh: Nakuleshwar Temple

Nakuleshwar TempleAre you planning to visit Bhairav Temple? Well, Nakuleshwar is the one you should definitely visit. This temple was built in the 15th century, so the Shwayambhu Linga here also dates back to the same century and is made of variant elements. Don’t worry, you’ll get to know more about it after visiting the place.

And if you want to evidence the festive celebrities, then Mondays, new moon days, full moon days, and Ekadashi according to Indian Calendar are the best times to visit. On these occasions, you will get to see the special puja and Hindu rituals, and you can stuff yourselves with the Bhog. That’s really calming!

6. Pithoragarh Fort

Pithoragarh FortDo you love Nature trips? Or are you an architecture enthusiast or a history buff? In either case, Pithoragarh Fort is a must-visit place for you. This fort was built back in the 18th century in the cultural art form of that century. The fort is located at a hill station, so it’s a real zeal for the visitors. Pithoragarh lies around the Nepal – Indo – Tibetan border, so another advantage to visiting the place is to witness the local culture of tri- nations at a time.

And if you find something attractive, you can shop them at featuring stalls around the place. This Little Kashmir, or Kashmir of Uttarakhand, also has great historical importance in 1789, when the Chand Dynasty ruled. The place is a good spot for spending time in quality air and cool breeze sighting nature. You can also visit the war heroes memorial, Soar Valley, Kali Kumaoni Hills, Kali River, and more you can find after reaching the place.

7. Airport Naini Saini

Airport Naini SainiWhat’s so special about an airport, you might wonder? Well, it’s not just another airport. It’s one of the most picturesque airports you will ever come across. Welcome to Naini Saini Airport, situated among the scenic landscapes of Pithoragarh District. Even if you are neither arriving nor departing, this enchanting little airport should be on your bucket list simply because of its serene settings.

District: Pithoragarh Operator: Uttarakhand Government 
Coordinates: 29°35′32.85″N 80°14′30.39″E Alternate Name: Pithoragarh Airport

Pithoragarh Airport, also known as Naini Saini Airport, (IATA: NNS, ICAO: VIPG) is in Pithoragarh, Kumaon, Uttarakhand, India. The airport was constructed in 1991 for administrative use and planned for the operations of Dornier 228 type aircraft.[1] The State Government plans to upgrade it to Category 2C airport under Visual flight rules (VFR) conditions to facilitate operations of ATR-42 type of aircraft. Recently the Helicopter commercial services to Dehradun and Pantnagar have been started.

The beautiful location of Airport Naini Saini, surrounded by the Himalayas and graced by the Sarayu River, is ideal for some ‘me time’ or quality time with family and friends. Just 5.7 km away, it takes 15 minutes from the city center to reach the airport via car. If you please, feel free to hike your way to it. Even if you arrive at the airport, its proximity to Pithoragarh town makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the top places to visit in Pithoragarh. You can even find a hotel to stay nearby.


The airport offers a picturesque backdrop of the majestic Panchachuli Peaks, a group of five tall Himalayan peaks. The Sarayu River flows gently near the airport, meandering through the valleys, creating a soothing and peaceful ambiance. The area around Airport Naini Saini is dotted with terraced fields, traditional Kumaoni villages, and dense forests, offering a delightful blend of rural charm and unspoiled wilderness. The scenic beauty of the region changes with the seasons, with vibrant blooms during spring, lush greenery in the monsoons, and snow-blanketed landscapes in the winter.

  • Engagement Duration: 1 hour
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 5.7 km (15 min.)

8. Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple

Kapileshwar Mahadev TempleOn the edge of Takura and Takari villages, you come across the Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple, one of the most revered sites in the region and the top places to visit in Pithoragarh. As the legend goes, Sage Kapil meditated here to please Lord Shiva, which speaks for the name, Kapileshwar Mahadev. The temple is housed in a 25-foot-deep namesake cave where the natural rocks have assumed the shape of a lingam. The temple is visible just 10 meters after you step into the cave structure.

Location: Pithoragarh Town  AddressH693+762, Ghighar Kholi
Coordinates: 29°34’5″N 80°12’10″E Named After: Sage Kapila

The atmosphere inside the Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple is serene and spiritually charged, providing a peaceful space for prayers and meditation. It attracts devotees all year round but the maximum footfall is during Shivratri, a major Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is just 2.8 km away from the Lower Bus Station Pithoragarh, reachable in less than 5 minutes by car. However, you can choose to walk. It’s just a 20-minute stroll through some stunning landscapes of the town.


Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple offers some great experiences that might last for a while.

1. Architecture:

The temple’s architecture is good enough to spellbind you. It combines intricate stone carvings, ancient design elements, and the use of local materials to leave a lasting impact. The sanctum sanctorum (Garbagriha) that houses the lingam lies within a natural cave-like formation, adding a distinctive charm to its design. At the entrance, you can spot a simple yet elegant stone façade with intricately carved designs that depict various mythological figures and events from Hindu epics.

Just marvel at the carvings, and you might wonder how the local craftsmen pulled off such precision and finesse without modern tools and technology. The temple’s walls carry locally sourced stones, which not only lend a rustic appeal but also ensure the temple is in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape. Even the temple’s roof features sculpted motifs and miniature shrines while Shikhara rises gracefully above the sanctum. For me, the highlight has to be the man-made temple structure’s seamless integration with the natural cave formation. It’s simply awe-striking.

2. Soak in the Beauty:

When done admiring the temple’s architecture, it’s time to soak in the abounding natural beauty. The temple’s picturesque and peaceful location by the Sarayu River is a bonus. Here, you can spend some quiet moments in introspection and spiritual contemplation. Gazing down at the verdant Saur valley dotted with pine, oak, Rhododendron, and other trees is also an experience. Feeling hungry? Well, the stalls lining up the road offer local delicacies and comfort food to satisfy your appetite.

  • Engagement Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Distance from Pithoragarh: 2.8 km (05 min.)

9. Dhwaj Temple

Dhwaj TempleAt a distance of 20 Kilometre is the Satraj and from there, at some 20 minutes walk, is the Dhwaj Temple in the lap of the Himalayas. The temple is located at a height of 2100 meters from sea level bestowing the devotees with an adorable avalanche view. The temple got its name from Shiva the Dhwaja and is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Jayanti. You can enjoy a trek to the place, witnessing the natural beauty of the locality. During the Maha Shivaratri and Poornima, you can participate in the Bhajans and Prayers and stuff yourself with sweet Prasadam.

10. Thal Kedar

Thal KedarThe Thal Kedar opens to the serene Kumaon Valleys and is among the holiest Hindu pilgrimage centers devoted to Lord Shiva. You can easily reach the place from Pantnagar Airport at a distance of around 240 Kilometres. The ride to Thal Kedar is a bit thriller up to the base you can reach by local jeeps, and safaris, and to the top, it is around 8 Kilometers of the trek with a green lush ambush and cool passing breeze.

The temple is located at the hilltop and is said to be thousands of years old, and apart from a religious background, it shows the epic Cityview. During Maha-Shivaratri, you can find many devotees visiting the temple to offer their prayers, and mela, acts, bhajan mandi, and Prasadam are found all over the Pandals during this tenure. One can view the city at its best during this time.

An Itinerary: Top Places to Visit in Pithoragarh 

With so much to explore and discover, planning an itinerary that covers all places to visit in Pithoragarh could be a challenge. Breathe easy, as I have done the heavy lifting for you.  From serene temples to thrilling treks and more, this itinerary promises an unforgettable exploration of the Kumaon region’s hidden gems. Your journey concludes with memories of spiritual encounters, adventure, and the raw beauty of Pithoragarh, leaving you returning for more, year after year.

Arrival in Pithoragarh: (Day 1) 

  • Arrive at Pithoragarh, the base for your week-long exploration.
  • Check into your accommodation and take some rest after the journey.
  • In the evening, visit the Nakuleshwar Temple, a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • Overnight stay in Pithoragarh.

Exploring Gangolihat and Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple (Day 2) 

  • After breakfast, embark on a day trip to Gangolihat, located about 40 kilometers from Pithoragarh.
  • Visit the Kapileshwar Mahadev Temple in Gangolihat, a unique temple nestled within a natural cave formation. Experience the tranquility of the temple and enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
  • Explore the local market and savor some traditional Kumaoni cuisine.
  • Return to Pithoragarh for an overnight stay.

Journey to Munsiyari (Day 3) 

  • Check out from your accommodation in Pithoragarh and proceed towards Munsiyari, a picturesque hill station renowned for its stunning vistas.
  • En route, visit the Arjuneshwar Temple and seek blessings at this serene place of worship.
  • Arrive in Munsiyari, check into your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
  • Overnight stay in Munsiyari.

Trekking and Sightseeing in Munsiyari (Day 4)

  • After breakfast, embark on a thrilling trek to Khaliya Top, offering panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks and lush valleys. Enjoy a packed lunch amidst the stunning natural beauty.
  • Return to Munsiyari and visit the Birthi Falls, a magnificent waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
  • In the evening, take a leisurely stroll through the quaint streets of Munsiyari and immerse yourself in the serene ambiance.
  • Overnight stay in Munsiyari.

Discovering Didihat and Dhwaj Temple (Day 5) 

  • Check out from your hotel in Munsiyari and head towards Didihat, a charming town with untouched natural beauty.
  • Visit the Dhwaj Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, known for its distinct flag, also called “Dhwaj,” which adds a unique charm to the temple’s architecture.
  • Enjoy the peaceful surroundings and take some time for self-reflection at this spiritual spot.
  • Proceed to Pithoragarh and check into your accommodation.
  • Overnight stay in Pithoragarh.

Pithoragarh Fort and Thal Kedar (Day 6) 

  • After breakfast, visit the Pithoragarh Fort, an ancient citadel that offers panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks and the town below. Learn about the historical significance of the fort and explore its architecture.
  • Later, proceed to Thal Kedar, a sacred place associated with Lord Shiva. Experience the spiritual atmosphere and pay your respects at the temple.
  • Return to Pithoragarh for an overnight stay.

Departure from Pithoragarh (Day 7)

  • After breakfast, check out from your hotel in Pithoragarh.
  • If time permits, visit the Airport Naini Saini, a small airport located in Pithoragarh.
  • Bid farewell to this enchanting region as you depart for your onward journey with cherished memories of your week-long adventure in Pithoragarh and its surrounding places.


So, that way my take on the top places to visit in Pithoragarh. In this article, we went through the best sights, sounds, and smells of a small town. Pithoragarh, with its majestic peaks, great locales, and rich culture, is a treasure trove of extraordinary destinations that attract travelers from all walks of life. From the soaring peaks and gushing waterfalls to the serene temples and peaceful villages, each place offers a unique experience. So, whether you seek adventure, nature, divine blessings, or simply some time away from the hassles of day-to-day life, Pithoragarh could be a godsend.

Happy Journey!

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Sameeksha Medewar
Sameeksha Medewar
With 3+ years of experience in curating highly-informative and well-researched technical blogs, Sameeksha is a passionate technical writer, technology enthusiast, and computer science graduate. Besides, she enjoys curating copies of travel, entertainment, and food.

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