The home of Himalayas, the abode of gods, and indeed a paradise on Earth, attracts everyone from everywhere. The pure water, the fresh breeze, the freezing snow, the small villages, the Trumpet Mountains, the scenic beauty, the medicinal land, the simpler people and a diversified lifestyle is what that sets apart Uttarakhand from rest of the world.
Situated at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain range, in the Northern part of India is the mesmerizing state of Uttarakhand. The state is one-of-its-kind sharing borders with Nepal in the East, Inter-State boundaries with Himachal Pradesh in the West, China (Tibet) in the North, Northwest and Uttar Pradesh in the South.
The state has excellent connectivity with the national capital Delhi, as well as with neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab. Because of being prolific of forests, rivers and hills, it occupies palatial of natural resources. Horticulture based and Hydropower industries are highly supported in Uttarakhand due to its agro-climatic conditions and massive water resources.
As of January 2018, the state has virtual connectivity with two domestic airports, over 39,000 km of road network, and 345.23 km of rail routes and an installed power production capacity of 3,333.35 megawatt (MW).
Uttarakhand has become a tourism delight that massively attracts both the national and international tourists from across the globe. Apart from one reason of scenic beauty to visit Uttrarakhand, it offers abundant of tourist attractions. The presence of many marvellous hill stations, trekking routes, adventure parks, wildlife parks, pilgrimage places make Uttarakhand an attractive tourist destination. Footfall of tourist arrivals in the state has reached beyond 30 million in 2017.
Uttarakhand is also one of the rapidly developing states in India, with robust industrial and social infrastructure thanks to the vast growth in capital investments from industrial policy, financial assistance, subsidies and interest incentives, tourism and generous tax benefits. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of the state surged to US$ 30.29 billion in 2017 which was US$ 13.14 billion for the financial year 2011-2012.
The Key Industries include agro-based and food processing, tourism, horticulture, floriculture, hydropower, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), biotechnology and pharmaceutical, engineering and allied sciences, and information and communications technology (ICT).
The state offers high-speed connectivity with the establishment of the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) earth station at Dehradun.
HistoryUttarakhand was earlier known as Uttaranchal. The name of the state was legally changed to its interim nameâ€”Uttarakhand in January 2007 after the state became the 27th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000. There is a long history attached to the rampant state. It is believed that the Mahabhararta was scripted here by saint Vyasa. Pandavas came here and camped. The Shamic religion following people known as Kol were known to first settle the region. Currently the state is an inland for noted saints and sadhus.
Uttarakhand consist of two words, "Uttar" denoting "North" and "Aanchal" denotingâ€ heavenly shelter." Previously also known as "Devbhumi" stating "the land of god," Uttarakhand also cherishes a rich and myriad culture and archetype of historical significance. Uttarakhand is broadly divided into two zones Kumaon and Garhwal.
Today Uttarakhand is a 'fairyland' for nature and entertainment lovers. Sports like river rafting, paragliding, trekking, Corbett jungle Jeep safari, are all allure for the adventure enthusiasts.
Mussoorie, the 'Queen of Hills'; Almora, the 'Switzerland of India'; Nainital, the 'Lake District'; Dehradun, the 'land of intellects & affluent'; Haridwar, 'the place of peace & divinity'; Ranikhet, Pauri Pithoragarh, and Munsiyari are just few breathtaking spots for the nature lovers.
For adventure and fun treat, one option is Mountaineering (Nanda Devi Kamet, Bhagirathi, Chowkhamba, Gaumukh, Khatling, Kafni, Milam, Pindari and Sahastrataal). For skiing, Trekking (Auli, Dayara Bugyal, Mundali, Munsiyari), Skating, Water Sports, Angling, Boating and Rafting, and Aero Sports like Paragliding and Hand Gliding (Jolly Grant, Pauri, Pithoragarh).
Uttarakhand is sprawled in a Geographical Area of 53,483 sq km. Larger parts of the region are hilly and woody.
The illustrious geographical characteristics of Uttarakhand are as follows:
- The alpine bushes, herbages and meadows of Western Himalayan range
- Sub alpine cedar, douglas, pine forests in the Western Himalayan range
- Subtropical pine jungles of the Himalayan mountain
- Moderate broadleaf forests of the Western Himalayan range
- Mountainous plains and shrub lands
- Moderate coniferous forests
- Humid broadleaf jungles of the Upper Gangetic Plains
- Terai-Duar pasture, lowlands and llano.
The State of Republic has a total population of 1, 00, 86,292 inhabitants, of which the male to female ratio is 1000: 963. Over the last census, the state had a growth rate of 19.17%. The density of population is 189 per sq. km and about 69.77% of the population resides in rural areas.
The literacy rate of Uttarakhand is 79.63%, thanks to notable schools, colleges and of course the state compliances. There are total 13 districts in Uttarakhand region: Almora, Bageshwar, Chamoli, Champawat, Dehradun, Garhwal, Haridwar, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Pauri Garhwal, Rudraprayag Tehri, Udham Singh Nagar and Uttar Kashi.
Who are the people of Uttarakhand?
The state citizens are known as Uttarakhandis and at times Kumaonis or Garhwalis depending on the region of their origin. Pahari is another term used to refer people hailing from mountainous terrains.
Northern highlands of Uttarakhand are also populated of people of Tibeto- Burman origin.
Religion is actually a crucial part of the lives of inhabitants of Uttarakhand and moreover a big attraction for domestic tourism. Though major pocket of population follows Hinduism, but Uttarakhand dons cosmopolitan population expanded across two notable geo-cultural regions: the Garhwal, which commensurate approximately to the north-western half of the state, and the Kumaun, which spreads to the southeast.
Rajputs (various sects of landowning rulers and their descendants)â€”including members of the native Garhwali, Kumauni communities, and Gujjar as well as a number of immigrant peoplesâ€”comprises of a largest portion of the State Republic population.
Only about one-fifth of the total population belongs to the Scheduled Castes or group of people that have customarily occupied a low position within the Indian caste system); these people are collectively called Kols or Doms.
Nearly 5 percent of the population constitutes Scheduled Tribes (a group of indigenous peoples who traditionally excludes inclusion within the Indian social system), such as the Raji, who live close to border with Nepal.
More than 4-5th of Uttarakhandâ€™s population are Hindu. Muslims contribute to the largest religious minority that makes up about 1/10th of the population. Smaller communities of Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Christians are the remainder of Uttarakhandâ€™s residents.
Hindi is the official state language most commonly spoken, along with Pahari languages such as Garhwali, Kumaoni and Jaunsari. People here also speak Indo-Aryan languages.
Jaunsari and Bhotiya dialects are spoken by some tribal communities in the west and north. On the other hand, the urban population speaks mostly in Hindi and English.
Uttarakhand is broadly divided into 2 regional divisions and also has two major Regimental Centers on the Indian Army. The 2 divisions include Kumaon and Garhwal.
Kumaon Division- It is divided into-:
Kumaon Regiment- It is the most decorated infantry regiment of the Indian Army originating its traces to the 18th century and has battled out in every major campaign of the Indian Army and the British Indian Army, including the two world wars.
The most noteworthy battle fought by this regiment was the Battle of Rezang La â€“ on which the the national award winning Bollywood movie â€œHaqeeqatâ€ was based. The song â€”â€œKar Chale, Hum Fidaa, jaan-o-tanâ€, yes, that film
Garwal Division- It is divided into-:
- Pauri Garhwal (commonly known as Pauri)
- Tehri Garhwal
Garhwal Rifles- the original cameo was in 1887 as the 39th (Garhwal) Regiment of the Bengal Army, it became part of the British Indian Army, and post the Independence of India, the Indian Army. Majorly constituted of Garhwali warriors, this regiment has an eminent chronicles and a distinguished identity.
It made contribution during the Frontier campaigns of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, also in both the World Wars and the wars after Independence.
The Regiment has its recognition as 03 Victoria Cross, 14 KCs, 52 VrC, 46 SC, 01 AC, 04 MVCs, 08 YSM, 10 PVSM, 01 UYSM, 284 SM (incl 06 Bar), 17 AVSM and 40 VSM (including 01 Bar).
CULTURE & FESTIVALS
The culture here shows a distinctive pattern, with the modules from each of the ethnic groups and sub-groups that lives in the region. It can also be said that the culture and literature of Uttarakhand is a point where the different set of cultures of the Kumaoni-Garhwal meet.
Discussing about the culture of Uttarakhand, we can start with the residents of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand shelters 7 distinctive ethnic groups, possessing as less as seven different cultures. Some of the important ethnic groups that form a part of the cultural clan of Uttarakhand are:
- Migrants from North Central India since Medival Period (mostly Hindus, & belongs to upper most class of State)
- Original Khas Tribes at hills (since Vedic age)
The enchanting state of Uttarakhand offers almost all kinds of cuisine. Coarse grain with high fibre content is very common in Uttarakhand cuisines. Mundua (Buck wheat) grown on the borders of Nepal and Tibet is famous in regions of Kumaun and linguda and is also a part of the Pahari cookery to keep the stomach in order.
Either pure ghee or mustard oil is used to cook food. Milk and milk based products is sparingly used here.
Tomatoes are hardly used in the cuisines of Uttarakhand. Hash seeds as spice is quite freely used to make the food distinctly delicious.
Some of the popular regional delicacies of Uttarakhand include the following:
- Bhatt Ki Churdkani
- Ras, etc
Music and Dance
Music holds spiritual significance in Uttarakhand. Various types of folk music include Basanti, Chhopati, Chounphula, Jhumeila, Mangal, and Khuded. The most famous folk song of Uttarakhand is â€œBedu Pakoâ€ but is considered the unofficial song of the state.
Popular musical legend Meena Rana who has released many albums in her voice is also referred to as "Lata Mangeshkar of Uttarakhand" is associated to this state.
Langvir Nritya exhibits gymnastic moves and is a famous dance form for males and Barada Nati is a famous folk dance in Dehradun.
Uttarakhand is highly admired and visited for the most important Hindu temples, the Char Dham.
Fairs and Festivals in Uttarakhand
Fairs and Festivals have always been an integral part of the culture & lifestyle of Indians, with Uttarakhand no exception. These Fairs and Festivals in Uttarakhand make merry in the regions in different styles and add a great deal of liveliness for the people living in the state and visitors too.
Every 12 years, a big Hindu fete called the Kumbh Mela is conducted in four holy locations, including Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Ardh Kumbh Mela in Haridwar
Ardh Kumbh Mela is a kind of sacred convocation of devotees where all the believers take bath in the holy waters of River Ganga at Haridwar; Yamuna and Saraswati at Dev Prayag; River Godavari at Nashik and River Shipra at Ujjain. It is performed to attain divinity and purity by the devotees. The largest, the grandest Mela takes place every 6 years at the holy places which are accepted to have been blessed by drops of Amrit (elixir).
Nanda Devi Fair
The hilly regions of the state are brimmed with large number of temples that are also the venues of many fairs being held. The typical religious minded residents of Uttarakhand celebrate the Nanda Devi Fair in commemoration of the goddesses Nanda and Sunanda. It takes place in various places in Uttarakhand such as Almora, Bhowali, Dandidhara, Kichha, Munsyari, Nauti, Nainital, Ranikhet, and also in Pindar valleys (like Wachham and Khati) and the hypnotic hamlets of Lohar (like Martoli and Milam). The fairs held at Almora and Roopkund attract largest number of people.
Jauljibi and Thal Fairs
The primarily commercial Jauljibi and Thal Fairs taking place in the Pithorgarh district of Uttarakhand are incredible because both these places strike with sparkle & bustle during the time. They are actually the juncture of three different cultures (Shaukas, Nepalis and the Kumaoniâ€™s).
Uttarayani Fair, Bageshwar
The fair essentially exhibits the tradition of the land and local movements. This is the fair that provides the political and social workers with a platform to express their problems and grumbles. It takes place in a number of places like Bageshwar, Chitrashila (Ranibagh), Hanseshwar, Rameshwar, and Suit Mahadev. Bageshwar draws in the largest number of people.
It is an important musical festival affair that includes the Baithki Holi, Mahila Holi, and Khari Holi, beginning from Vasant Panchami and lasting for about two months.
Vasant Panchami is an important festival here celebrated to welcome the onset of spring season. During the time, the flowers blooms, the birds chirp, the splendid sun illuminates and the chills no longer stings
Ganga Dussehra or Dasar Festival
On the occasion, the sacred river Ganga is worshipped for consecutive 10 days. There is a telltale behind that says Ganga pitched on earth at this time. She was at first unwilling to descend down from heaven but the meditation of Bhagiratha urged her to do so. And since then the day is celebrated in the state in full vigor.
Yoga Festival in Rishikesh
Following the age old Indian science of health and wellness, the state celebrates week-long International Yoga Festival, in Rishikesh, to detoxify and purify the body, mind and soul.
The other festivals that have contributed to the enrichment and enthusiasm of the state includes:-
Olgia /Ghee Sankranti
Hill JatraBat Savitri
Flora & fauna
The superfluous flora and fauna of the state consists of creatures like leopards, snow leopards, tigers, bharals, and rare trees and shrubs. The Ganga and Yamuna, two largest rivers of the Republic of India, have headwaters in this state.
Talking about the flora and fauna in Uttarakhand, we can begin with the forestry in the state. There are 4 major forest types found in the Uttarakhand, which includes tropical deciduous forests in the Lesser Himalayas, thorn forests in the Siwalik Range and in parts of the Tarai, temperate forests in the Great Himalayas, and alpine meadows in the extreme north. As per Stateâ€™s official census, over 60 % of Uttarakhand is under forest cover.
Common laden tree species in the Uttarakhand of the temperate forests includes Himalayan (blue) pine, Himalayan cedar (Deodar cedar), birch, chestnut, cypress, and elm, oak, poplar, spruce, silver fir, yew, and rhododendron.
Tropical deciduous forests of teak, shisham and salâ€”all hardwoodsâ€” occur in the submontane tract. Thorn forests of babul (kind of acacia), dhak (kind of flowering tree), and different kinds of bushes grow in the south.
It has mostly agro-geo climatic zones, which offer commercial appropriate opening option for horticulture and floriculture. The Republic state is home to over 175 species of rare medicinal, herbal and aromatic plants.
The state is endowed with a rich raft of animal species and living. Leopards, Tigers, Wild Boars, Sloth Bears and Elephants are among the stateâ€™s huge mammals. Common birds here consist of doves, ducks, pigeons, peacocks, partridges, jays, quail, and woodpeckers.
Crocodiles can be spotted in several areas. Good or bad, as you may take, but Lions and rhinoceroses have become extinct species in the region. A large number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks have been established to protect & conserve the wildlife of Uttarakhand.
Famous places in Uttarakhand
What destinations can travel lovers go in for Uttarakhand?
Nainital (Jim Corbett National Park)
The huge wildlife reserve is the oldest national park in the country known for its rich variety of flora and fauna, wildlife safari through forest. If youâ€™re fortunate, you might spot the famous Bengal tiger.
Some of the most important tourist attractions in Nainital include:
- Naini Lake
- Naina Peak
- Nainital Zoo
- Eco Cave Gardens
- Thandi Sadak
- Himalayan View Point
- Tiffin Top
- Snow View
- Horse Riding
- Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary
- Lands End
- Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary
Serving the scenic sight of the Himalayan view and the Nanda Devi, this whimsical town draws many visitors to the Kumaon region for its richness of picturesque beauty, ethnic culture, handicrafts bird watching and trekking excursions and Kumaoni cuisine.
For a peaceful stay in Almora, Itmenaan Estate can be your pick.
Mussoorie, the â€˜Queen of Hillsâ€™ has seen numerous footprints ever since the discovery. The list of enthusiastic travellers to dwell in snowy beauty of the place is growing. People also increasingly are in preference of the hill station for destination weddings and other social gatherings due its possession of exuberant resorts like JW Marriot, Walnut Groove, ITC Grand, Savoy etc. Some of the most important tourist attractions in Mussoorie are as follows:-
- Sir George Everestâ€™s House
- Kempty Falls
- Bhatta Falls
- Benog Hill
- Gun Hill
- Lal Tibba
- Cloudâ€™s End
- Company Garden
- Christ Church
- Jwalaji Temple
- The Mall (Mall Road)
- Happy Valley
- Childrenâ€™s Lodge
- Mussoorie Adventure Park
- Mussoorie Lake
- Camelâ€™s Back Road
- Jharipani Falls
With spectacular views of Himalayan ranges, River Ganges and Yamuna on either side of the city, the natural beauty of the capital of Uttarakhand is set apart. It is a hub for high intellect education, science and research and development. Given below are some leading attractions of Dehradun:
- Rajaji National Park
- Malsi Deer Park
- Robber's Cave
- Asan Barrage Water Sport Resort
- Mindrolling Monastery
- Tiger Falls
- Tapkeshawar Temple
- Forest Research Institute
Rishikesh is an amalgam of adventure and serenity. Here is plethora of adventurous activities to be taken such as river rafting, trekking, and camping. It is also the Yoga capital of the state. Given below are some of the popular destinations in Rishikesh include:
- Jumpin Heights
- Laxman Jhula
- Paddle India
- Ram Jhula
- Bharat Mandir
- Kriya Yoga Ashram
- Triveni Ghat Swarg Ashram
- Narendra Nagar
- The Beatles Ashram
- Parmarth Niketan
- Neelkantha Mahadev Temple
- Gita Bhavan
Haridwar- Also known as the 'Gateway to the Lord' the town is considered holy and hence pilgrims from various parts of the world travel to the place in search of salvation and peace from the chaotic cities. Given below are some of the popular attractions in Haridwar:
- Har Ki Pauri
- Mansa Devi Temple
- Maya Devi Temple
- Vaishno Devi Temple
- Chandi Devi Temple
- Shanti Gunj
- Pavan Dham
- Vishnu Ghat
National Parks in Uttarakhand
- Corbett National Park
- Govind National Park
- Gangotri National Park
- Nanda Devi National Park
- Rajaji National Park
- Valley of Flowers National Park
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Uttarakhand
- Askot Musk Deer Wildlife Sanctuary
- Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
- Mussoorie Wildlife Sanctuary
- Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary
- Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary
Rivers of Uttarakhand
- Asan Barrage
- Alaknanda River
- Bhagirathi River
- Baur River
- Bhilangna River
- Darma River
- Gori Ganga
- Gola River
- Jahnavi River
- Song river (Dehradun)
- Saraswati River
- Tons River
- Vasukiganga River
Temples in Uttarakhand
The State laps in a lot of famous temples holding religious importance. To name a few, includes-
- Badrinath Mandir
- Aadi Badri Mandir
- Yog Dhyan Mandir
- Bhavishya Badri Mandi
- Kedarnath Mandir
- Rudranath Mandir (Rudraprayag)
- Madmaheshwar Mandir
- Kalpeshwar Mandir
- Yamunotri Mandir
- Gangotri Mandir
- Kalimath Mandir
- Narsingha Mandir Joshimath
- Mansa Devi Mandir
- Soni Binsar Mahadev Mandir
- Jhula Devoi Mandir (Ranikhet)
- Naina Devi Mandir (Nainital) etc
Best time to visit Uttarakhand?
Uttarakhand attracts visitors majorly during summers, but the freezing winter weather makes for a quant experience too!
Summer: April â€“ June
Temperature: Min 25Â°, Max 40Â° C
Monsoon: July- September
Temperature: Min 15Â°, Max 25Â° C
Winter: October â€“ February
Temperature: Min Sub Zero, Max 18Â° C
List of famous Schools & Colleges in Uttrakahnd
The Doon School
Welham Girls School
The Pestle Weed School
Colonel Brown Cambridge School
Forest Research Institute (India)
Indian Institute Of Technology, Roorkee
All India Institute of Medical Sciences Rishikesh
University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
National Institute of Technology, Uttarakhand
List of famous stadiums
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Dehradun
Abhimanyu Cricket Academy
Multipurpose Sports Stadium
Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium
Upat Golf Course