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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Almora District

The pictures shown in this set come from a trip up from Pantnagar, on the Ganges Plains, to the temples at Jageshwar. The mountain scenery is spectacular, even though it's just Himalayan foothills. The local agriculture is even more spectacular.

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Northern India: Almora District picture 1

The highway shortly after the beginning of the climb. This stretch is a shortcut that misses Naini Tal and heads more or less straight (less, actually) from Jeolikote to Bhowali.

Northern India: Almora District picture 2

Can you date the bridge over the Bola River?

Northern India: Almora District picture 3

Sure you can. Roorkee, a town at the start of the Ganges Canal, was an engineering center during the British era. There's an Indian Institute of Technology there now.

Northern India: Almora District picture 4

The terracing in these hills is mostly wheat and rice grown without irrigation during the monsoon.

Northern India: Almora District picture 5

The terraces don't require a pathway for water from step to step; they do require a huge amount of labor.

Northern India: Almora District picture 6

The path in the foreground is the way to the village in the distance.

Northern India: Almora District picture 7

Another access path, one that drops down a valley wall, crosses the river, then starts up again.

Northern India: Almora District picture 8

Almora Town.

Northern India: Almora District picture 9

The mall, a mile-long study in gridlock.

Northern India: Almora District picture 10

East of Almora Town, most of the mountains are forested in pine. Despite the apparent solitude, there's a surprising amount of traffic, especially minivans that serve as group taxis.

Northern India: Almora District picture 11

The approach to Panuwanaula, a locally important town with its own branch bank--and a sign helpfully directing motorists to the nearest ATM.

Northern India: Almora District picture 12

The forest is especially dense around the Jageshwar complex, which is probably why the temples are here in the first place.

Northern India: Almora District picture 13

This is Dandeshwara, a temple built in the 10th Century atop a natural rock outcrop.

Northern India: Almora District picture 14

Close-up.

Northern India: Almora District picture 15

The Jageshwar Temple proper is nearby, at the end of this dead-end road.

Northern India: Almora District picture 16

Another subsidiary cluster, also from the 10th century.

Northern India: Almora District picture 17

These are Kuber or Kubera temples, dedicated to Kuber, the chief yaksha or forest sprite, who serves also as the guardian of the north.

Northern India: Almora District picture 18

And here, cheek-to-jowl against the tourist center, is the Jageshwar complex proper.

Northern India: Almora District picture 19

It bears some of the worst signs of a tourist center.

Northern India: Almora District picture 20

Looking for all the world like a solitary Greek temple, this is a village built as row-housing and set amidst its fields, where it awaits the rains due shortly. Seen from the road to Old Jageshwar.

Northern India: Almora District picture 21

A closer look, showing some fields fertilized with ash and irrigated with springwater.

Northern India: Almora District picture 22

An even more spectacular village, perched on a knife-edged ridge. In The Social Economy of the Himalaya (1935), S.D. Pant wrote, "The villages are as a rule situated on spurs running from the middle and lower levels of the ridges, in the midst of the cultivated fields. Such sites are neither too hot and damp, like the low-lying land near the river banks, nor too cold, like the hill-tops.... The villages generally are found in a chain. All of those which are situated on a common ridge belong to a common stock, which points to their tribal origin...." (p. 74).

Northern India: Almora District picture 23

Seen from the other side of the ridge and spectacular despite the heavy, persisting haze.

Northern India: Almora District picture 24

A delivery truck, carrying coals to Newcastle.


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