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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
The Flora and Fauna
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
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
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.