Ranikhet, which means Queen's Meadow in Kumaoni, gets its name from a local legend, which states that it was here, that Raja Sudhardev, a Katyuri ruler, 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.

Ranikhet had been under Nepalese rule after the Nepalese invasion of Kumaon and Doti in 1790, and the Kumaonis won it under the leadership of their able General Kashi Nath Adhikari – after whom the small town of Kashipur was named (which at one point of time was the gateway to the hills and is now an educational and institutional hub) – with the help of British at around 1816 and is a part of India now.