It is said that gods have chosen some of the most blessed places on earth as their dwellings. One such place is known as devbhumi or "abode of the gods" - Uttarakhand. A delicately beautiful mix of religion, leisure, education and much more, Uttarakhand comes across as one of the most attractive locations for tourists from across the world today. Be it a pilgrim wishing to undertake a religious journey, or an adventure enthusiast who aims to conquer another peak, or someone who loves to know more about the history of our lands, Uttarakhand has something to offer for everyone.
Sitting pretty in the vast lap of Himalayas and bordered by China, Nepal and Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand boasts of an impressive 20682 square meters of land bustling with natural beauty and age old heritage. Shaped as a result of social changes on November 9th 2000, Uttarakhand, or Uttaranchal, as it was known till January 2007, is a very precious jewel in India's majestic landscapes as its 27th state. Unlike the more removed and quaint hill stations of India, this region has seen much activity in political, social and economic terms.
On account of its vast geographical area and a rich past, Uttarakhand offers its tourists, places spread across religious pilgrimages, leisure spots, heritage locations and many more.
Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve : Many tourists enjoy a trip of thrill and excitement at the Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve located in the state. The legendary hunter, the great Jim Corbett, found his calling in the forests of this region and created a story which continues to enchant those who seek adventure and wildlife.
A multitude of Hill Stations : An array of hill stations such as Nainital, Mussoorie, Almora, Bhimtal, Kasauli and Ranikhet make Uttarakhand a favorite of those who seek to embrace natureâ€™s magnificence. You can easily choose to visit one or more of these stations during a single trip, lending an unmatched variety to your experiences. The mountains, lakes, winding roads and dew laden mornings are enough to keep you enchanted for a long time.
Mountain Peaks : Adventurers find their calling in the many mountain peaks located in Uttarakhand, while a UNESCO world heritage site composed of the famous Valley of Flowers and Nanda Devi National Park serves as a not to be missed venue for the tourists of this state. Some of the most challenging and enticing peaks of the region are Nanda Devi, Kamet and Chaukhamba.
Nanda Devi is the second highest mountain peak in India. True to its name, which means bliss giving goddess, this peak has been a source of inspiration and peace to many adventurers.
Kamet is the second highest peak in the Garhwal region of India, after Nanda Devi. It's peculiar shape which resembles a giant pyramid topped by a flat summit area with two peaks makes it an interesting conquest for climbers.
Chaukhamba lies at the peak of the sacred Gangotri Glacier and is a composite of four summits, each as beautiful as the other.
What really serves as the soul of Uttarakhand is its importance as a place of religious interest. A multitude of people undertake pilgrimages to its many places many years and find solace, wisdom and salvation in this holy land. Chardham, which is one of the most sacred places for any Hindu, finds a place in Uttarakhand, the four parts of it being Gangotri, the place which spouts the holy river Ganges, Yamnotri, the place where the revered river Yamuna finds birth, Kedarnath, a celebration of the Hindu god of destruction- Shiva, and Badrinath, a dedication to the omnipotent Hindu deity- Vishnu. Another destination, and one of the most recognised ones in the country, is Haridwar, or "Gateway to God", where lakhs of people take a dip in the Holy Ganges to supposedly wash off their sins. It is truly a humbling sight to see so many people taking a dip at the same time in a pious confession to the almighty.
These many temples and shrines are not just beautiful, but have been the abodes of gods over the last many thousand years. Would you believe that Jageshwar, an architectural wonder in itself, is a complex of 124 temples located in a deodar woodland! Where else in the world would find an opportunity to experience something such as this?
And while Hindus have been considering Uttarakhand as a place of worship since time immemorial, other sects find their religious salvations in the region too. The recently constructed Mindroling Monastery is a tranquil reminder of Buddhaâ€™s teaching, not to mention the worldâ€™s supposedly highest Stupa, the Buddha Stupa which is a part of the monastery. Hemkund, which is located in the Himalayas, attracts many a Sikh Pilgrim who travels across the country to bow to their gods.
Coming to one of the most populated agglomeration of human beings when it happens, the very famous 'Kumbh Mela' is an occurring which happens every twelve years at Haridwar. The happening becomes a focal point of national and international tourism when it happens, and is visited by millions of Indian and Overseas people, who literally have waited years to be a part of the great experience. If you can plan your visit to Uttarakhand in a way that it takes you to the great Kumbh Mela, you are one of the very few who are blessed enough to experience this phenomenon from Uttarakhand.
Rishikesh : Another aspect of the spiritual wealth of Uttarakhand is Yoga, a great and ancient technique for physical and mental wellness which is being adopted across the world now. Rishikesh, which lies close to Haridwar, serves as a quiet center where this technique is shared with many. Combine this with the number of temples and shrines this region is a home to, and one who seeks religious salvation shall not return empty handed from Uttarakhand.
And it only adds to the attraction that there are fresh and unique concepts such as eco tourism, agritourism and rural tourism in many villages of Uttarakhand, which is a true representation of the increasing development and prowess of our country and its villages.
And if you thought all this wonder and excitement is hard to reach, Uttarakhand is strongly connected via air, land and rail with almost every part of the country. A robust transportation infrastructure enables one to reach the state without hassles and even travel within it without any problems.
By Air: Jolly Grant airport, which is located close to the Uttarakhand state capital of Dehradun, is connected to all the major cities of the country.
By Rail: Uttarakhand is also dotted with railway stations, with the important ones being at Dehradun, Haridwar and Kathgodam.
By Road: A strong road transport infrastructure exists in Uttarakhand with numerous public and private transport medias operating on them.
All said and done, travelling to or within Uttarakhand is one thing you would not struggle with on this trip!
All said and done, Uttarakhand is one region which shall not fail to delight you, surprise you and sweep you off your feet with its many aspects. Uttarakhand is a unique land which is so full of possibilities that everybody has something to carry back as a lifelong memory. Bustling with abundance in heritage, religion, adventure or just natural scenic beauty, this land is brimming with colors, joy and peace, all at the same time. So if you are ready to experience the wonder of gods, the excitement of adventure or the regality of our history, come to Uttarakhand. The abode of the gods beckons you. Enjoy the thrill of Corbett National Park, or experience the adventure of scaling the mountain peaks of the land. Visit the numerous temples and shrines to get closer to god, or delve into the history of Uttarakhand. There are so many things to do; you shall never want to be anywhere else!
The best time to visit this mesmerising land would be the summer season, which are the months of April, May and June, as the hills can help you beat the heat while enchanting you with their beauty. Please make sure you avoid the monsoons while undertaking a trip to Uttarakhand as the state has been known to see severe landslides during the rains.
From a historical perspective, Uttarakhand has been the hotbed of much political and social activity. Formerly known as Uttaranchal, which literally means the â€˜Northern part of the countryâ€™ on account of its geographical location, the state was formed in its present form on November 9th, 2000 after a period of social change and unrest.
Uttarakhand has seen many rulers such as the Paurvas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, the Chands, Parmaras and then the British, each of whom have enriched the region in terms of its architecture and other aspects. One of the most important epics of Indian Mythology, the Mahabharata, is believed to have been written here by Sage Vyasa. And for those who believe it, it is said that the great Pandavas travelled and camped in the region. It is only natural that the state stands as a proud harbinger of many historical monuments, temples and shrines which serve as a testimony of the glorious and eventful history the region has seen. The land is a historianâ€™s delight and continues to throw up surprises and findings for those who love to know the stories of an era gone by.
One of the more recent states to come into existence, the region was known as Uttaranchal till December 2006. It was renamed Uttarakhand and came to be the 27th state in the Indian Republic in January 2007.
Do keep in mind that the climate of the state varies with landscape. With the temperatures dropping to sub-freezing levels at the higher altitudes, they are warmer in the lower reaches. So you can find it snowing in the mountains of Uttarakhand, while the plains see a warmer and more humid climate.
In summers, places such as Haridwar and Rishikesh experience temperatures reaching up to 40 degree Celsius, while other places see a little more temperate weather. This season extends from April to June.
On the other hand, the winters get equally cold with the temperature hovering from zero to about 15 degree Celsius. Winters last between October to February.
The months from July to September see monsoons washing over Uttarakhand, with the temperatures ranging from 15 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius while the state assumes a very pleasant weather.