Ranikhet is a picturesque hill station in the Almora district of the northern Indian state of Uttaranchal. It is also a cantonment area, as it houses the two important regiments of the Indian army i.e. the Kumaon regiment and the Naga regiment. Due to the strong military presence in the village, the area is quite well maintained and clean. Hindi, Kumaoni and English are the main languages spoken by the locals and the army men of the area. The place gets its name from Rani Padmini the queen of Raja Sudhardev, who had great fondness for Ranikhet and decided to build a residence here.
Ranikhet has several interesting places of visit such as:
This museum tells tales of several important wars, dating back to World War I. The stories related to the 1st and 2nd Param Vir Chakra are also seen in this museum. Amongst the souvenirs of the war, one can find captured weapons, captured enemy flags and the LTTE boat. The list of the army generals of the Kumaon regiment can also be found here. There is an army guide in the premises, to elaborate on the medals and uniforms showcased in the museum. A sense of patriotism takes over, on a visit to such a museum!
Jhula Devi Temple
This temple is located at a distance of 7 kilometers from Ranikhet, near Chaubatia. It is believed that a shepherd had excavated the idol of Goddess Durga, who promised to protect the village from the wilderness surrounding it. When a wish made at the temple is fulfilled, the devotee offers a bell to the deity in gratitude. The popularity of the temple can be noted from the number of bells hanging in it. Dried coconut and Prasad are also made as offerings to the deity.
This temple is situated in the vicinity of the Jhula Devi Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. A staircase leads one to the hill top, where the temple is located. There are several rock paintings in the temple, depicting the various episodes of Ramayana. There is a monastery near the temple where children are taught ancient Vedas and Vedic and modern mathematics.
10 kilometers from Ranikhet, these gardens are popular for their apple orchards. However, other alpine plantations such as apricots, peaches, chestnuts, almonds etc can also be found here. The garden store sells fresh fruit juices and artisan honey to the tourists.
Apart from the above mentioned, some of the other sites in Ranikhet are army golf course, Haidakhan temple, Syalikhet, Binsar Mahadev, Katarmal, Bhalu Dam and the Dunga lake. Ranikhet experiences a pleasant climate from the months of March to October and there is snowfall from December to February. The pine, oak and deodar forests of the region breed wild animals such as leopard, leopard cat, mountain goat, barking deer, sambar, pine marten, Indian hare, red-faced monkey, jackal, langur, red fox and porcupine. The nearest rail head is Kathgodam, 68 kilometers from Ranikhet.