Uttaranchal became the 27th state of the Republic of India in November 2000. Carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal mainly comprises the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh. The state borders Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and Uttar Pradesh in the South, and has international borders with Nepal and China. A picturesque state, Uttarancahal has magnificent glaciers, majestic snow-clad mountains, panoramic views of the Himalayas, dense forests and the valley of flowers, as well as some of Hinduism's most sacred pilgrim sites. The State's 13 Districts can be grouped into three distinct geographical regions, the High mountain region, the Mid-mountain region and the Terai region. This is the land where the Vedas and Shastras were composed and great Indian epic, The Mahabharatha, was written.
The state is very rich in natural resources especially water and forests as it has many glaciers, rivers, forests, mountain peaks. The famous peaks of Uttaranchal are Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, Bandarpunch and Mt Kamet. The major glaciers include Gangotri, Pindari, Milam and Khatling. The Ganga, The Yamuna, Ramganga and Sharda are principal rivers of this region.
Apart from tourism, the rural population is engaged in agriculture, and the state has immense potential for the development of horticulture crops. The region also holds promise for developing the herbal pharmaceutical industry owing to an abundant supply of medicinal plants. The industrial sector is insignificant. Due to its water resources the state has the capacity to generate many mega watts of power. There are 17 hydro-electric projects already producing electricity and many ambitious power projects including Tehri Dam are under construction.
Places to visit
Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, Dehradun, the state capital, is one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. The town lies in the fertile Doon Valley, with the river Ganga in the east and river Yamuna in the west. It is home to some of the country's best public schools, including Doon School and Welhams. The Indian Military Academy, The Forest Research Institute, ONGC and many more offices of the Central and State Governments are also situated here. Close to Dehradun is the hill resort of Mussoorie.
Tapkeshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
Sahastra Dhara, the sulphur springs
Robbers Cave, a picnic spot
Tapovan, a place where Guru Drona did penance
Kalanga Monument for Gorkha Gen Balbhadra Thapa
Ashoka Edict at Kalsi
Char Dham is a term coined for the four most sacred and revered Hindu temples: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. According to the Puranas and various Hindu scriptures, the Char Dham Yatra is of very high religious significance. Pilgrims brave severe weather conditions to visit these shrines.
Badrinath Temple is the abode of Lord Vishnu. The idol is made of black granite. The temple is situated at an altitude of 3130 metres on the banks of the Alaknanda. Behind is the Neelkanth mountain peak situated between the twin peaks of Nar and Narayan. Near the temple is a hot water sulphur spring known as Tapt Kund.
The temple of Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated at an altitude of 3580 metres, the temple is built of large, heavy and evenly cut grey stone slabs, and is considered to be more than 1000 years old. It has a garbha griha where the conical rock formation is situated, and a mandapam for seating visitors. A large statue of the Nandi Bull is situated outside the temple door.
The shrine is situated at an elevation of 3200 metres, amidst deodar and pine forests. It is believed that Raja Bhagirath used to worship Lord Shiva on a slab of rock "Bhagirath Shila" situated near the temple. Submerged in the river is a natural rock shivling, where, according to mythology, Lord Shiva sat when he received the Goddess Ganga in his matted locks.
Yamuna, the river goddess, is worshipped at the Yamunotri Temple, situated at a height of 3235 metres. The idol is made of black marble. A hot sulphur spring is situated close to the temple.
The name Haridwar means "gateway to God", and it is from here that the pilgrimage to two famous temples, Kedarnath (Lord Shiva) and Badrinath (Lord Vishnu) starts. It is situated on the banks of river Ganga, at the foothills of the Shivalik mountains. It is one of the four places where the Kumbh mela is held every 12 years. During this fair, millions of devotees take a holy dip in the river Ganges to wash away their sins. It is said that the pitcher of Amrit was kept in hiding here by Devtas when it was unearthed from Sagar Manthan. The same pitcher was taken to the other places, i.e. Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik. In the struggle with Asuras the pitcher broke spilling some sacred water (amrit), since then these places became very holy and the Kumbh mela is held every 3 years in these cities in succession. Every evening, after sunset, aarti of the Ganga is performed in Har-ki-Pauri. Visit:
Ram Krishna Mission Seva Ashram
Gurukul Kangri University
Sapta Rishi Ashram
Bharat Heavy Electricals Factory
Mansa Devi Temple
This lake town, situated in the hilly region of Kumaon, is built around the lake Naini. The city is surrounded by seven mountains, Sapta Shring. Nainital was the summer capital of Uttar Pradesh for many years during British rule and also after independence. According to mythology, when Lord Shiva was carrying the body of Sati, her eyes fell at this place and it came to be known as Naini Tal. Nearby places of interests are BhimTal and SatTal.
Surrounded by hills, bisected by the wide and sluggish Ganga, Rishikesh, the land of yogis and ashrams, nestled in the foothills of the Garhwal region, is the getaway to the upper Garhwal region and the starting point for pilgrim routes to the four dhams of Uttarakhand - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Situated 24 km upstream from Haridwar, at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga rivers, Rishikesh has long been a spiritual centre. In the 1960's, Rishikesh gained instant fame as the site where The Beatles came to stay with their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today it is known for white water rafting or the spa at Ananda in the Himalayas.
Reaching this ski resort (run by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) is itself quite an adventure. From Joshimath, the base town, you have to take the cable car, since the roads are buried under snow during the winter. The crisp, cold air, the pine trees covered with snow, and the towering peaks create a memorable experience.
This small town, situated at a height of 1814 metres, on the northern slopes of the Kandolia hills, provides a delightful view of the snow clad Himalayan peaks of Bandar-Punch. The misty deodhar forests and peaceful surroundings makes it an ideal place for a holiday. There are many picnic spots, including Kandolia Gap and Nag tibba.
Tehri, situated at an altitude of 770 metres, at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Bhilangana rivers, is located in a wide open valley which is quite warm in the summer. The town is at the junction of five important roads which branch off to Rishikesh, Deoprayag, Uttarkashi, Srinagar and Tilwara. Prior to independence, Tehri was the capital of the princely state of Tehri-Garhwal. The palaces and temples built by the old rulers can still be seen at Tehri and the adjoining places. The Tehri Hydel Development Corporation has undertaken the construction of Tehri Dam on the river Bhagirathi and it is estimated that the project will generate 2400 MW of electricity and irrigate vast areas in the region.
This historic town, situated near the river Bhagirathi, has plenty of ancient monuments and temples, the most famous of which is the Lord Viswanath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Nearby there is Shakti temple, which has an old brass trident which is 26 feet high and has a base circumference of 9 feet. There is also a temple of Parshuram. In many ways, Uttarkashi is similar to Kashi, hence the name. The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering is located here. Uttarkashi is a tourist halt place.
This town is situated near the confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. From here there are two roads, one going to Kedarnath and the other to Badrinath. It is a night halt place for pilgrims. There is a small Jagdamba Devi temple dedicated to the Goddess Durga. There is also an old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, called Rudranath temple. Narad Muni medidated here for several years, Lord Shiva blessed him with perfection in music.
This hill district is in the central Kumaon region of Uttaranchal. It is a beautiful scenic place situated at an altitude of 5900 ft. There is a cave where Swami Vivekananda meditated and was enlightened. Almora was captured by British from Gorkhas, who have left their mark on this town. Nanda Devi festival is celebrated here, during which devotees from all over India visit this place.
Corbett National Park
Along river Ram Ganga, in the foothills of the Himalayas is situated the country's oldest national park. Constituted in 1935 as Ram Ganga National Park, it was later named after Jim Corbett, one of the greatest hunters of the last century, who later became a leading voice for the conservation and protection of wildlife. The park is home to elephant, tiger, leopard, panther, bear, sambhar, cheetal, crocodile, and many other smaller animals. It is a paradise for birdwatchers - more than 150 different varieties of birds have been sighted here.
Valley of Flowers
The world famous Valley of Flowers is situated in the upper expansions of Bhyundar Ganga in the far interiors of the Garhwal Himalayas. Almost 300 species of wild flowers bloom here. Some of the species are: Anemone, Geranium, Marsh Marigold, Prinula, Potentilla, Geum, Asters, Lilium, Ranunculus, Corydalis, Inula, Braham Kamal, Campanula, Pedicularis, Arisaema, Morina, Impatiens, Bistorta, Ligularia, Anaphalis, Saxifragus, Sibbaldia, Thermopsis, Trollius, Codonopsis, Dactylorhiza, Cypripedium, Strawberry, Epilobium, Rhododendron. Most of the flowers have medicinal value too. The valley remains in bloom for three months while its' floral composition keeps changing every few days. By September, the hue starts changing and the entire vegetation remains dormant for the next five months when the valley is snow bound. Apart from the flowers, some species of butterfly, musk deer, blue sheep (bharal), himalayan bear, himalayan mouse hare and snow leopards are also found in this area. It was declared a National Park in 1982.
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park, spread in an area of about 820 sq. kms., is one of the latest additions to the list of national parks in the country. The park was constituted by combining three existing wildlife sanctuaries: Rajaji, Motichur, and Chilla. Nestled in the Shiwalik Hills, and lying between the Lower Himalayas and the Upper Gangetic Plains, it is the northwestern-most habitat of the Asian Elephant. The park is also home to the tiger, leopard, porcupine, barking deer, and sambhar. The largest variety of Indian python is also found in Rajaji.
Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park
The Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttar Pradesh, was established in 1955. Spread over an area of 957,969 sq. kms., the altitude varies from 1300 mts. to 6323 mts. The entire area of the sanctuary is subjected to light-heavy snowfall. The snow leopard inhabits the inner Himalayas above the altitude of 3500 mts. To improve the protection of this rare animal, the upper reaches of the sanctuary were notified as a National Park which covers an area of 472.08 sq. kms.
Kedarnath sanctuary is situated in Chamoli district. The approach road starts from Haridwar-Rudraprayag and then leads to Sonprayag and Ukhimath which is 226 km. away. The fauna includes panther, musk deer, black and brown Himalayan bear, sambhar, scrow, thar, ghoral and monal pheasant. The best time to visit is during April to June and again from September to November.
Nanda Devi National Park
Nanda Devi Sanctuary is situated in Chamoli district. The present sanctuary came into existence in 1939. There are no roads available and the area is inaccessible. No regular path exists. You can trek from Joshimath i.e. 15 km. by road upto Lata and then 51 km. trek upto the sanctuary. The fauna includes snow leopards, Himalayan bear, musk deer, bharal, him, thar and many species of pheasant. The park is a World Heritage site.
Mussoorie Wild Life Sanctuary
Mussoorie or Binog Mountain Quail Wild Life Sanctuary is accessible from two directions, northwest and south by road from Mussoorie. Bus services and overnight trains are available from Dehradun. It is well connected by road from Dehradun to Mussoorie. The entry point in Binog Block is from Dhobi Ghat, which is on the Mussoorie Kempty road. There is also a motorable kuchha road from Hathipaon up to Clouds End Estate, which is about 6 Km from Gandhi Dwar, Library, Mussoorie. From Clouds End Estate to Binog Top is about 2 Km, along a bridle path. The Himalayan Quail last sighted in 1876 and believed to be extinct now, might be spotted again in the picturesque Mussoorie hills. Primates, reptiles and avifauna are commonly found here. The sanctuary is unique in having plant communities in various forms. Apart from this the area is rich in medicinal plants. It forms the catchment area of the Aglar river which is a tributary of the Yamuna.
The Assan Barrage Wetland
Situated near the confluence of Yamuna Canal and the Assan, in Dehradun district, the lake attracts a large number of water-fowl, both waders and divers. Apart from these there are a large number of woodland and scrubland bird species in the adjoining Sal forest. Many birds listed as globally threatened species in the IUCN Red Data Book have been observed at Assan. The services of an experienced bird-watching guide can also be arranged on request.