Kumaon is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a good cycling tour in India. The beautiful Lower Himalayan landscape is well complimented with the well-laid roads and minimal to no vehicular traffic on the routes.
The gradients of Kumaon are also a great starter for cyclists wanting to explore cycling in the hills and a good thirst quencher for the cyclists looking for a back-breaking climb. Here are some of the most spectacular routes and destinations all cyclists should pedal up to feel the real thrill of cycling in the hills.
- Ranikhet – Situated at an altitude of 1869 meters, the place gets its name from a local legend – it was here, that Raja Sudhardev won the heart of his queen, Rani Padmini, who subsequently chose the area for her residence, giving it the name, Ranikhet. It’s a small sleepy village with a local market and some beautiful meadows. One can choose the route to cycle in from Bhowali/ Bhimtaal / Nainital or Almora, its approximately 50kms of a ride with medium gradient climbs.
- Almora – it is often referred to as the cultural heart of the Kumaon region and is one of the few big towns in the district and very popular with tourists. Situated at an altitude of 1861 meters (6,100 feet). It is located on a horse saddle shaped hillock and is surrounded by thick forests of pine and fir trees and the snow-capped Himalayas in the background. Almora falls in the middle of most routes and is at a comfortable distance for a day ride from all popular destinations.
- Kasardevi/ Binsar – One of the most spectacular and unique places, Kasardevi is very popular with the westerners and boasts of the most stunning panoramic views of the Himalayas. The place came into prominence after Swami Vivekananda mentioned it in his diary and ever since has been a popular destination for a lot of ascetics and the place also was very popular during the Hippie movements of the ’60s and ’70s. The Binsar sanctuary is about 30kms away and makes for a good ride, you can even ride inside the sanctuary.
- Jageshwar- Though Jageshwar is a pilgrimage center but it offers a great riding experience amidst the typical Kumaoni landscape of Oak & Pine forests and terrace farms. While riding in and around one should not miss the unique cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD. Jageshwar is mostly approached through either Almora or Kasardevi.
- Munshiyari – it literally translates to ‘ a place with snow’ is the most talked about destination in Kumaon due to the fact that it’s the start point of a lot of treks into the interior of the range and also one of the most scenic. It’s at an elevation of about 2,200 m (7,200 ft and one of the higher altitude places in Kumaon. The climb to Munshiyari is not only difficult but also the roads are not in best shape. The area is also very remote and takes a lot of time to reach the base.