The people of Kumaon have a strong mix of culture that is not only sourced from the indigenous population that used to stay in the area but also the immigrants who moved to the region and, over time, made the place their home. The different cultural groups that have since made the Kumaoni region their home have influenced the dialects, myths, languages, folk literature, fairs and forms of artistic expressions.
Most physical features in Kumaon, including mountain peaks, mountain ranges and lakes, are usually associated with a certain myth or the name of a God or Goddess. Some are associated with the Shakta, Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions, and there are some that are associated with local Gods such as Saim, Golla, Chhurmal, Ham, KailBisht, Gangnath, Airy, Chaumu, and Bholanath. There are several temples devoted to Lord Shiva such as those at Jageshwar, Bageshwar, Binsar, Thalkedar, Rameshwar, Pancheshwar, Baijnath and Gananath. The Shakti region is home to the Devidhura, Gangolihat, Pumagiri, Almora, Nainital, Kot Ki Mai and Kothari Devi temples while the Lohaghat-Champawat region is associated with Kunna Avatar. This region is known for having two Sun temples.
One popular temple trek from Pangot is the Tigda Mandir, located near a small cave system. This route was once popular as it was a relatively easy pass from Almora, and the caves were a popular rest stop, with ‘dharamshalas’ being established later for overnight stays.
The story goes that once, a merchant and his family were travelling to Almora using this route, and stopped here for the night. The merchant was carrying a lot of gold, and hid it for safety before they slept. In the morning, they woke up and travelled to Almora, forgetting about the hidden gold. Upon reaching their destination, the merchant remembered that he had left his gold behind, and decided to travel back to recover it. He made an oath to establish a temple there should his gold be safe and sound. Reaching the caves, he found another family resting there and got worried. However, the gold was safe in its hiding place. True to his word, the merchant built a temple, now known as the Tigda Mandir, at that spot.
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