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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 5, p. 244.


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244


ALMORA DISTRICT


Garhwal District. With the exception of a small area, the whole of this
vast tract lies within the Himalayas, stretching from the outer rampart
which rises abruptly from the plains across a maze of ranges to the
great central chain of snowy peaks, and to the borders of the Tibetan
plateau beyond. The south-east corner extends into the Bhabar, a small
tract at the foot of the hills, which is largely covered with forest, and
resembles the BHABAR of Naini Tal District. For 40 or 50 miles
north of the outer ranges the hills form ridges with an
Physical
aspects. average height of 4,000 to 5,000 feet, sometimes rising
to 7,000 or 8,000 feet. The ridges are distinct, though
their windings and minor spurs give the beholder the impression of an
inextricable tangle; and each ridge runs with a general direction from
south-east to north-west, and ends in a snowy peak in the central chain.
North of a line from Kapkot to Askot the general elevation increases,
glaciers appear, and finally the limit of perpetual snow is reached. On
the western boundary, and partly situated in Garhwal, is the Trisul
Mountain, named from its triple peaks having a fanciful resemblance to
a trident, from 22,300 to 23,400 feet above the sea. To the north-east
of Trisul is Nanda Devi, with an elevation of 25,66I feet, the highest
mountain in British India; and Nanda Kot, the 'couch' of the
great goddess Nanda, with a height of 22,538 feet. East of these is
a magnificent mass of snow-clad mountains called Panch Chulhi, the
two highest peaks reaching 22,673 and 21,I14 feet respectively. Another
ridge with a mean elevation of i8,ooo feet lies along the Tibetan frontier,
forming the water-parting between the drainage system of the Indus and
Sutlej on the north and the Kali on the south. Most of the drainage of
Almora District is carried off by the Kali or Sarda. Its tributaries flow
in the valleys between the lower ranges of hills-the Dhauliganga and
the Goriganga rising in glaciers, the Sarju and Ramganga (East) just
below the snow-line, and the Gomati, Lahuvati, and Ladhiya in the
outer hills. A long watershed runs down the western border; but in
the south it is pierced by the Ramganga (West) and the Kosi, which
are the principal rivers not forming affluents of the Kali. Apart from
small areas in the river-beds and a few elevated plateaux, there are no
areas of even tolerably level land above a height of 3,000 feet.
The southern boundary of Almora begins among the probably very
ancient, but unfossiliferous, slates, schistose slates, quartz-schists, and
occasional massive limestones, sometimes marmorized, of the Lower
Himalayas. These become invaded by enormous masses of gneissose
granite in the central region of the main chain of snowy peaks, when
their metamorphism is proportionately greater; but this area has only
been superficially examined. On the northern side of the central axis
the great series of sedimentary marine deposits, extending from Lower
Silurian to Cretaceous, make this elevated tract exceptionally rich from



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