Uttarakhand is also known as Uttaranchal in the northern part of India. It is a beautiful state covered with mountains, natural beauty of flora and fauna. Throughout the state, there are beautiful temples and pilgrimage centres that make it a holy place to visit. Uttarakhand is also known as “Dev Bhoomi. “ – The Land of Gods. Uttarakhand’s name is derived from Sanskrit words – Uttara – North and Khanda – Land.
Uttarakhand is divided into two divisions namely Garhwal and Kumaon. Garkwal is the western region of Uttarakhand. It is the home to Garhwali people and locals speak Garhwali language. Garhwal is the land of many forts and was ruled by many chieftains. Nearly 700 years ago, Garhwal kingdom was founded by Rajputs. The Garhwal region consists of rugged mountain ranges running in all directions. The highest mountain is in the Chamoli district where the highest peaks are Nanda Devi, Kamet, Chaukhamba, Trisul, Dunagiri and Kedarnath.
The second division is Kumaon. It is bounded by Tibet in the north and Nepal in the east. It was ruled by Chand and Katyuri dynasties. It is the home to the famous Indian Army regiment – The Kumaon Regiment. Kumaon is also surrounded by loftiest mountain ranges. Sal, Alder, Saindain and Himalayan Cypress are the beautiful and rare trees found in this region. The climate in Kumaon area is mild. In winters the land and the mountains are snow covered. The archaeological remains show the existence of Vedic practices in the area, Dynasties like Pauravas, Guptas, Palas, Chandas and many more including the Britishers ruled the state in turns.
Uttarakhand is covered by high Himalayan peaks and glaciers. The two most important rivers worshipped in Hinduism originate from Gangotri as the Ganges and at Yamnotri as the Yamuna. The highest mountain ranges are covered with snow and bare rocks. Uttarakhand has a multi-ethnic culture. Hindi is the common official language spoken by the locals followed by Sanskrit being the second official language. The population includes a higher percentage of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
The dances of this region are connected to human existence and depict human emotions. Music is an integral part of Uttarakhandi culture. Popular folk songs are Mangal, Basanti, Khuder and Choppati. These folk songs are played by damru, dhol, Daur, dholki, thali etc. Music is a way to invoke Gods. Jagar is a form of spirit worship where the singer sings the balled of Gods depicting the ancient and great epics that signify invoking of the gods. Wood carving is the local craft and its depicted in the temples where its beautifully carved with floral patterns, deities, etc on the walls, windows, doors etc. Pahari Paintings have developed for centuries. It’s depicted in both homes and temples. Guler state was known for Kangra paintings.
Garhwali art is more close to nature. It shows the natural beauty of Uttarakhand, while Kumaoni art is about geometrical patterns. Wheat is the staple crop of Uttarakhand served with vegetables. Agriculture is the most significant part of the economy. Basmati rice, wheat, soya beans along with fruits like apples, oranges, litchi etc are grown in this region.
Uttarakhand is well connected to its neighbouring states and to the rest of the country by air, rail and road. Uttarakhand’s tourism is mainly because of the Himalayan Mountains and the holy places around it. This place has ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, hill stations that are attractive tourist destinations. There are 44 protected monuments in the state. Pilgrims visit Gangotri and Yamnoti with the belief that their sins will be washed away and they will attain liberation. The Chota Chaar Dhaam i.e. Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva is the most auspicious and sacred pilgrims.
Haridwar is known as the “Gateway of God.” Is a popular destination for devotees? Every 12 years it holds one of the largest and millions of people come to be a part of this mela from all over the country as well as abroad. Rishikesh near to Haridwar is a prominent place for learning and practising yoga. Uttarakhand is not only popular among Hindu deities but also popular among Sikhs and Muslims. Hemkund Sahib, a famous Sikh Gurudwara dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh. It is written in the Sikh scripture i.e. the Dasam Granth that God had ordered Guru Ji to do meditation and take a dip in the glacier lake. Tibetan Buddhism has reconstructed its Mindrolling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa which is the highest in the world and is located in Dehradun.
Uttarakhand has a diversity of flora and fauna. 65% is covered with forests. Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals that are reserved in sanctuaries and reserves. It has 12 wildlife sanctuaries. Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park since 1936. It is the home of the endangered Bengal Tiger. Wildlife lovers are the main tourists. Sightseeing is only restricted to a specified area. Valley of Flowers National Park located in the western Himalayas is home meadows of endemic alpine flowers and variety of flora. Endangered and rare animals including the red fox, brown bear, musk deer, snow leopard, black bear, etc are found here.
Missouri, Nainital, Auli, Dhanulti, Lansdown etc are some of the popular hill stations of Uttarakhand. This state also attracts tourists for adventure sports like mountaineering, hiking and rock climbing. Water rafting is famous in Rishikesh. Uttarakhand is full of mountain ranges and forests that make this place perfect for those who get the thrill to tap into nature by skiing, paragliding, camping, trekking, rock climbing etc.
Uttarakhand is one of the most picturesque states of the Himalayan region. There are several tourist destinations for all ages. It has an abundance of holiness and sacred temples and tourist spots for its devotees. It is also the most popular when tourists throng this state looking for the adventure of their lifetime and gives a good opportunity for people to connect and relax in the abode of nature. The serene environment, beautiful landscapes, local people and their simple cuisines make Uttarakhand a popular destination of India.