Situated in the Almora district, the cantonment township of Ranikhet serves as the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment and the Naga Regiment. Set at average elevation of 1,869 m (6,132 ft) the cantonment is spread across two ridges, the first, called the Ranikhet ridge, is situated at an elevation of 1,824 m and the second, the Chaubattia ridge, is at an elevation of 2,116 m.
Ranikhet, literally means Queen's meadow in Hindi. It derived its name from a local legend, which states that 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, though no palace exists in the area.
In the year 1869, the British established the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment here and used the station as a retreat escape the Indian summer heat. It is said that at one time during British Raj, it was also proposed as the summer headquarters of Government of India, in lieu of Shimla. Ranikhet previously was under the Nepalese Rule, and the Kumaonese (people of Kumaon Region) won it under the leadership of their able General Kashi Nath Adhikari with the assistance of Britishers at around 1816.
This hill station is undoubtedly it is one of the cleanest one would have visited in the Kumaon Himalayas. Ranikhet, would not fail to always charm you, be it's cute market place, the slow pace of life of the locals, the scenic surroundings of 180 degree views of the snow-peaked Himalayas, the cute cottages, well the list can go on endless.
Ranikhet's wish-fulfilling Jhula Devi temple, set amist the Chaubattia range, has its own share of legends. The main deity of this temple is Goddess Durga and is a believed that Jhula Devi - the temple deity has the powers to fulfill the wishes of all her devotees. All around the temple are rows after rows of bells of different sizes hanging along reverberating her powerful presence.
It is said that any devout whose prayers are answered comes back the next time to thank the Holy Mother and ties bells around the temple - an admission that their prayers has been answered by the loving Mother. According to legends, this temple was built to seek Mother Durga’s protection for the wild animals in the place.
Some 700 years ago around the forest of Chaubhattia abound with wild animals. Leopards and tigers frequently used to attacked people and took away their live stocks. People felt harassed and prayed to Mother Durga for protection and it is said that the holy mother appeared in the dream of a shepherd and asked him to dig a particular place where he would find an idol.
On digging an idol of Maa Durga was excavated and the villagers constructed a temple at that very site and installed the idol. Soon, people were freed of harassment of wild animals and shepherds roamed the area freely. Children use to merrily play on the swing (Jhula in Hindi ).
It is said that Maa Durga again appeared in someone's dream and asked a 'jhula' for herself. The devotees thereafter placed the deity on a wooden 'jhula' inside the temple sanctorium and from that time onwards the diety came to be know as Maa Jhula Devi and the temple as Jhula Devi temple. This explained that fact that despite the presence of leopards and the occasional tiger in this area, villagers and cattle roan freely inside the chaubhattia forest.
The present temple was constructed in 1935 and the countless bells that hang around the temple bears the testimony of the fact of Maa Jhula Devi's divinity and healing powers. Amidst the soothing clangs of these bells be transported to a different spiritual plane as you bowed your heads seeking her blessings.