Ranikhet is a new district, carved out of Almora district. The town of Ranikhet, at an altitude of 1,900m (6233ft) within sight of the snow clad western Himalayas, is the perfect quaint little hill town. According to local legend, King Raja Sudhardev won the heart of his queen, Rani Padmini, here. She subsequently chose the area for her residence, giving it the name Ranikhet which means Queen's Meadow. It was the British, though, who lent the town its colonial undertones and set the headquarters for the Kumaun Regiment here, using the hill station as a retreat from the heat of the Indian summer. The Edge of India Ranikhet area comprises Ranikhet and Kothiyan.
With a population of around 19,000, the town of Ranikhet is spread along two ridges; the Ranikhet ridge at 1,824m and the Chaubatia ridge at 2,116 mts, the hamlet is draped in the pristine air of the Kumaun Himalayas. Dotted with rustic bungalows and old churches amidst pine, oak and deodar forests, this area offers complete solace for the urban soul. For those still craving culture, the market is the main hub of activity, with local tweed, shawls and other woolen products produced by war widows as a part of an army rehabilitation programme. The local sweet, Baal Mithai, is a must have while passing through the market.
The villages of Ranikhet district
The village of Kothiyan is located about 15km from Ranikhet at an altitude of 1600m on a hillock surrounded by lush terraced fields. Legend has it that one summers day an Englishman decided to slip into the little river flowing by the village for a dip, and left his coat (Kotiya) hanging in the village, which through the phonetics of the local dialect bacame 'Kothiyan'. This small farming village has good infrastructure in terms of electricity, although internet and mobile phone networks can be sporadic at times.
The array of wildlife in the Ranikhet area includes leopards, mountain goats, barking deer, sambar, Indian hare, jackals, langurs, red foxes, and porcupines.
The weather here is moderate and pleasant during the summer months but becomes very cold in the winters.