With incredible vistas of mighty Himalayan peaks and humid lowland jungles, Uttarakhand takes travellers on an expedition that leaves lifetime memories in their heart and soul. Often termed as ‘Dev Bhoomi’ (the Land of Gods) by Hindu devotees, Uttarakhand is the proud owner of more than its fair share of holy sites narrating the tales from the Hindu epics. The state also flaunts an enticing diversity reflecting in its cultures, history, lifestyle, and attractions.
The locals of Uttarakhand are deeply rooted to their cultures. The state has a perfect diversity, which can be explored in the form of its music, dance and arts. Being blessed with multiplicity of culture, people of Uttarakhand have formed firm religious bonds. Most of the local celebrations are linked to Mother Nature. One can spot many Garhwali and Kumaonis residing in the state. Other major ethnic groups of the state are the Bhotias, the Jaunsaries, the Tharus, the Bokshas and the Rajis.
The women of Uttarakhand are spotted in beautiful ghagra choli, which looks like a long skirt with a narrow waist. Men wear dhoti or pajamas with a kurta. Men often carry turbans as a part of their customary costume.
Hindi is the most widely spoken language here. It is the only state in India with Sanskrit as one of its official languages.
Many Hindu mythologies are twisted with the history of Uttarakhand which is unsurpassable. One can see an array of historical destinations weaved beautifully in the state. Dwarahat, signifying doorway to heaven, is major historical lure which was constructed by the Katyuri kings. Influenced by the Gujarati style of architecture, this is the place where many Hindu festivals are celebrated. Narendra Nagar is another popular historical town of Garhwal region ruled by Shah Rulers for years. The royal palace, which also houses a spectacular spa destination: Ananda- Inn the Himalayas, welcomes streams of history seekers.
Travellers on holidays to Uttarakhand never miss out the Chaukhutia, narrating rich history of the state. The town still holds evidences of the Katyuri dynasty in the form of some magnificent forts and temples. Another renowned destination for the devotees of history is the Lohaghat situated at the banks of Lohawati River. The Mayawati Ashram of the place holds historical and mythological significance.
This state is a dream destination of every adventurer seeking some soul stirring sport activities. Thanks to its diverse geography, it showers travellers with countless adventurer experiences. From paragliding in Mukteswar and Ranikhet, to skiing in Auli, from white water rafting and bungee jumping in Rishikesh, to wildlife safaris at the Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand bestows immense opportunities for those willing to experience the extraordinary.
Uttarakhand is home to some of the most astonishing wildlife hubs that let you relish a glimpse of the wild closely. Thanks to its charismatic topography, the state makes a perfect dwelling for various animals and birds. Jim Corbett national park is perhaps the most renowned attraction among wildlife enthusiasts visiting Uttarakhand. Home to a variety of flora and fauna, the park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. The area came under Project Tiger in 1973. Today, it houses a variety of wildlife, including Tigers, Elephants, Chital, Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Gharial, King Cobra, Muntjac, Wild boar, Hedgehog, common Musk Shrew, Flying fox and Indian Pangolin.
Wildlife lovers also love exploring the Rajaji National Park spreading across three districts of Uttarakhand - Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. The park consists of 315 avian species, including great pied hornbills, Himalayan pied kingfishers, pea fowls, woodpeckers, pheasants, barbets, the fire tailed sunbirds, etc. Apart from this, the Gangotri National Park is also known for bestowing beautiful flora and fauna. Covering an area of 2390 sq. km, the park houses more than 15 species of mammals and 150 species of birds
Uttarakhand is a world renowned destination to lets your soul meditate amidst the divine powers. Uttarkashi is one of the most spectacular religious hubs with two of the Four Holy Shrines of Hindu mythology of the 'Char Dham'. Kedarnath, residing in the lap of Garhwali Himalayas, is another one of the Char Dhams.
Thousands of pilgrims head for Rishikesh to meditate at the banks of holy river Ganga. Rishikesh is home to numerous Hindu temples and yoga ashrams that offer a soothing ambience. No traveller visiting Rishikesh ever misses the chance to visit Haridwar (‘Gateway to the Lord’). The destination is known for the grand Kumbh Mela, a festival celebrated once in twelve years.
Apart from these, Badrinath, located at an altitude of 3133 meters, also welcomes travellers with its divine appeal. The temple holds great importance among Hindu devotees, and its surroundings add stars to its beauty.
Thanks to numerous local markets, shopping in Uttarakhand keeps travellers busy all day long. Do not miss buying handmade accessories and gems, woodcrafts, woollen attires and Gharwali paintings from Dehradun. The Tibetan markets of Dehradun are extremely popular among locals. Those visiting Nainital can pick handmade candles, colourful lac bangles, fresh apples, cherries, mulberries and strawberries.
Cuisine of Uttarakhand is known for its simplicity. All the dishes served here mirror the cultures of the state. Some of the common dishes like Phanu (made of lentils), Kafuli (thick gravy preparation made from green leafy vegetables), Thechwani (made using radish root), Chainsoo (prepared with black gram daal) and Garhwali Jhol (made out of tomatoes, potatoes and other tubers) are extremely popular. Also, do taste locals sweets like Baadi and Arsa, which leave a lasting taste on the tongue.
Fair and festivals of Uttarakhand reflect the ancient traditions of the state. While some celebrations are solemnized to welcome new seasons, other are celebrated to please the deity. Kumbh Mela of Uttarakhand is the bigger fair celebrated by Hindu devotees. The fair is celebrated four times at four locations in every twelve years. Uttarakhand is one of the four locations that welcome streams of pilgrims who take dip in the sacred waters of holy rivers to wash away their sins. The atmosphere of this fair looks grand with traditional dancing, singing, blowing whistles, etc. Kanvad Yatra is another prominent fair taken up by the devotees of Lord Shiva. During the fair, pilgrims embark on huge processions from various villages, collect waters of the holy river Ganga from Haridwar, and walk back to their houses.
Another grand festivity of Uttarakhand is the famous Nanda Devi Raj Jaat celebrated once in every twelve years. The expedition begins from Nauti village with a mythical four-horned sheep and Doli and various gifts for Nanda Devi. The pilgrims complete this trek in 19 days by passing through some of the most stunning and very risky landscapes to reach Homkund. The fair is a living picture of the deeply rooted beliefs of locals towards their cultures, religion and traditions. Bissu Mela, marking the prosperity coupled with the harvesting season, is also a beautiful representation of vivid cultures of Uttarakhand. Solemnized in the well-known temple of Santoora Devi, the week-long fair is dedicated to Santoora Devi, an avatar of Goddess Durga.
When it comes to festivals, the locals of Uttarakhand hold great importance for the Kangdali Festival held every twelve years between the months of August and October. The fair involves an imposing march with children and men armed with swords and shields, and women folk leading the procession. The festival is a sheer delight with the sights of richest cultures of the state.
Though Uttarakhand is a year-round destination, summer months are best to visit this state. During this time, the climate remains pleasurable and perfect for outdoor activities. Winter months are extremely cold and bring along heavy snowfall in some places. Monsoon can be harsh in Uttarakhand as rains lead to landslides in some regions.
Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, Pantnagar airport and Pithoragarh’s Naini Saini Airport are three major airports of the state. The state also has great rail connectivity with numerous junctions like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Nainital, Kotdwar, Kathgodam, Pauri and Udham Singh Nagar. Most of these connect with major Indian cities.
Road travel to Uttarakhand is exciting yet tricky. Many state buses run between Uttarakhand and other Indian cities. However, one must avoid road travel during rainfalls as the state experiences landslides in remote areas.
Train travel makes a great option to commute between larger towns. As the state has many high attitude roads, one must hire professional driver to travel through the crisscross terrain. State buses also connect major areas and make the cheapest travel options.
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