Rig Veda, the most ancient of the scriptures says, ‘there is no happiness for him who does not travel. The fortune of him who is sitting sits, it rises when he rises, it sleeps when he sleeps, it moves when he moves. Therefore, Wander!’
About UttarakhandA major portion of human history has been created by travels – treatises and historical accounts are filled with stories of men who travelled to conquer, to convert, to trade, to plunder and most importantly to quench their curiosity. Every mountain and ocean stimulated human curiosity to see and know beyond the mundane. This unremitting beckoning upset his sleep and logic but invigorated his fancy. The obsession for the unknown was an indivisible element of that fancy. And men, as always, have been known to live and die for their fancies.
Now, in the changed circumstances of the 21st century men still travel mostly when they get tired of routine circumstances or to put it more starkly whenever they find spare time from their demanding and hectic routines. There could be scores of other motives as well. Whatever may the motivation be, it is a truth that every journey does detune and retune one’s intimate self. A whole lot ensues between embark and disembark. Some strings get tightened and some get loosened.
Uttarakhand formerly known as Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Devbhumi (literally “Land of the Gods”) due to many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. On 9 November 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India, being created from the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh. It borders Tibet to the north; the Mahakali Zone of the Far-Western Region, Nepal to the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the west and north-west as well as Haryana on its south-western corner. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The interim capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city of the state, which is a railhead. The High Court of the state is located in Nainital.
Archaeological evidence supports the existence of humans in the region since prehistoric times. The region formed a part of the Kuru and the Panchal kingdoms (mahajanpads) during the Vedic age of Ancient India. Among the first major dynasties of Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century BCE who practised an early form of Shaivism. Ashokan edicts at Kalsi show the early presence of Buddhism in this region. During the medieval period, the region was consolidated under the Kumaon Kingdom and Garhwal Kingdom. In 1816, most of modern Uttarakhand was ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals, the proximity of different neighboring ethnic groups and the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions which further strengthened during the Uttarakhand movement for statehood in the 1990s.
The natives of the state are generally called Uttarakhandi, or more specifically either Garhwali or Kumaoni by their region of origin. According to the 2011 Census of India, Uttarakhand has a population of 10,086,292, making it the 19th most populous state in India.
What To See And Do
Uttarakhand has many tourist spots due to its location in the Himalayas. There are many ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, hill stations, and mountain peaks that draw large number of tourists. There are 44 nationally protected monuments in the state. Oak Grove School in the state is on the tentative list for World Heritage Sites. Two of the most holy rivers in Hinduism the Ganges and Yamuna, originate in Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand has long been called “Land of the Gods” as the state has some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and for more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been visiting the region in the hopes of salvation and purification from sin. Gangotri and Yamunotri, the sources of the Ganges and Yamuna, dedicated to Ganga and Yamuna respectively, fall in the upper reaches of the state and together with Badrinath (dedicated to Vishnu) and Kedarnath (dedicated to Shiva) form the Chota Char Dham, one of Hinduism’s most spiritual and auspicious pilgrimage circuits. Haridwar, meaning “Gateway to the God”, is a prime Hindu destination. Haridwar hosts the Kumbha Mela every twelve years, in which millions of pilgrims take part from all parts of India and the world. Rishikesh near Haridwar is known as the preeminent yoga centre of India. The state has an abundance of temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or manifestations of Shiva and Durga, references to many of which can be found in Hindu scriptures and legends. Uttarakhand is, however, a place of pilgrimage not only for Hindus. Piran Kaliyar Sharif near Roorkee is a pilgrimage site to Muslims, Gurdwara Hemkund Sahib, Gurdwara Nanakmatta Sahib and Reetha Sahib are pilgrimage centers for Sikhs. Tibetan Buddhism has also made its presence with the reconstruction of Mindrolling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa, described as the world’s highest at Clement Town, Dehradun.
Some of the most famous hill stations in India are in Uttarakhand. Mussoorie, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Pauri, Sattal, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal, and Ranikhet are some popular hill stations in Uttarakhand. The state has 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries which cover 13.8 percent of the total area of the state. They are located at different altitudes varying from 800 to 5400 metres. The oldest national park on the Indian sub-continent, Jim Corbett National Park, is a major tourist attraction. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and Project Tiger run by the Government of India. Rajaji National Park is famous for its elephants. In addition, the state boasts Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vasudhara Falls, near Badrinath is a waterfall with a height of 122 metres (400 ft) set in a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, hiking, and rock climbing in India. A recent development in adventure tourism in the region has been whitewater rafting in Rishikesh. Due to its proximity to the Himalaya ranges, the place is full of hills and mountains and is suitable for trekking, climbing, skiing, camping, rock climbing, and paragliding. Roopkund is a popular trekking site, famous for the mysterious skeletons found in a lake, which was featured by National Geographic Channel in a documentary.The trek to Roopkund passes through the beautiful meadows of Bugyal.
Where To Stay
Many good hotels and Resorts are available at all places.
How To Get Around
Sharing its boundary with Nepal and China, Uttarakhand is set at the edge of the Himalayas. Uttarakhand houses the most sacred temples of the Hindus- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. This is not all! The place has a lot more to it. Uttarakhand has top hill stations of the country including Mussoorie, Nainital, Auli, Uttarkashi and Chamoli.
Reaching Uttarakhand is easy and this is because of its connectivity with other cities of the country via air, rail and road.
Uttarakhand By Air :
There are two domestic airports near Uttarakhand. These include the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and Pantnagar Airport near Nainital. While there are regular flights to Dehradun from major cities of the country, Pantnagar Airport gets limited flights. So, make sure that you check with the flights before planning your trip to Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand By Rail :
Rail network offers convenient travelling to places in Uttarakhand. Some important junctions of the place include Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Nainital, Kotdwar, Kathgodam, Pauri and Udham Singh Nagar. All these station are well connected to other cities of the country such as Delhi, Varanasi and Lucknow. Express and passenger trains run to the place from different parts of the country.
Uttarakhand By Road :
There is a wide road network which covers the entire state. The roads are well-connected with Delhi and major state highways. These highways are further linked to main tourist destinations and important places such as Haridwar, Rishikesh and Corbett National Park. It is easy to reach these places via road. Also, there are bus services which operate on a daily basis to different destinations in Uttarakhand.
So, it is easy to reach Uttarakhand via all the modes of transportation. Be it any holiday season; make sure that you arrange your bus/train/air tickets beforehand to avoid any reservation issues later. This will help you make it a comfortable journey.