During the period extending from the 7th to the 11th century AD, Kumaon region was ruled by the kings belonging to the Katyuri dynasty. Kartikyapura, the present day town of Baijnath, was their seat of administration. This dynasty was founded by a general named Vashudev Katyuri. During its heydays, the Katyuri Empire extended from Nepal in the east to Afghanistan in the west. Mention of this great empire is even found in the travelogues of the famous Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang.
The Katyuri kings were great patrons of art. During their long illustrious rule, they contributed greatly to the construction of numerous temples. A significant contribution was the introduction of hewn stones to replace the bricks used in the construction of temples. The present day Almora District houses about 400 temples, which are believed to have been built by these kings. Most notable of these temples is the magnificent Sun temple at Katarmal, 15 km from Almora.
The 11th century saw the decline of the Katyuri dynasty owing to rivalries inside the clan and the lack of a strong leadership. The great Katyuri Empire disintegrated into many small principalities, many of which came under the control of the Sikhs and the Mughals.