Uttarakhand is gifted with marvelous natural beauty. It is located in north India and is the 18th biggest state in the country. It was previously known as Uttaranchal. Dehradun is the state capital and it ranks 19th in the nation in terms of population. The state was officially declared as an independent part of the Union of India in 2000. Prior to it, the region was a part of Uttar Pradesh. The area is also known as the 'Land of Gods'.
The region is a great spot for trekkers and nature-lovers. Almost 93% of the total area is covered by mountains while the forest cover acquires more than 64% of the land. The glaciers here are the main source of the two important rivers, Ganga and Yamuna. The area exhibits a rare combination of subtropical forest cover at lower elevation and the glaciers at the highest point.
A few important types of forest covers are western Himalayan alpine shrubs and meadows, Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests, western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests, Himalayan subtropical pine forests, Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands, and western Himalayan broadleaf forests.
People here belong to the region of either Garhwal or Kumaon and are thus known as Garhwali or Kumaoni. Population density in the state is 189 per sq. Km and the sex ratio is 963 females per 1000 males. It has the highest brahmin population as compared to other states of India. Among the total population, more than 86% are Hindus, 1.5% are Christians, 2.3% are Sikhs, 11.8% are Muslims, and the rest of them belong to Jain, Buddhist, and Parsi community. The area has an overall literacy rate of 80%.
Two main official languages of the state are Sanskrit and Hindi. It is the only region in the country which has given Sanskrit language as an official status. Important dialects spoken here are Garhwali, Jaunsari, and Kumaoni.
Major sightseeing destinations
There are several Hindu pilgrimage centers in the state. Places like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Haridwar, Hemkund Sahib, Gangotri, Yamunotri, and Kailash Mansarovar attract millions of pilgrims each year. Badri-Kedar yatra is quite popular throughout the country. Badrinath town is famous for the temple of Lord Badrinarayan. It is the most significant spot of Char-Dham Yatra. Kedarnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is open only between the months of April and October.
Haridwar is the holy city for Hindus and is one of the seven most holy Hindu places for in the world. The town is considered as the starting place for Badrinath and Kedarnath Yatra. Hari ki Puri, Mansa Devi Temple, Parad Shivling, Chandi Devi Temple, and Maya Devi Temple are the main attractions here. Gangotri is located on the banks of Bhagirathi River and lies in Uttarkashi District of the state. The temple here has great significance for two reasons. First, the site is considered as the starting point of River Ganges. Second, it is taken as the residence of goddess Ganga. Gangotri National Park is worth visiting. Yamunotri is situated in the northern part of Uttarkashi and is also the starting point of River Yamuna. The Hindu goddess Yamuna is said to have resided here. The spot is also a location included in Chotta Char-Dham Yatra.
Hemkund Sahib is a major pilgrimage center for Sikhs. Located at an elevation of 15,200 feet within the eye-catching peaks of Himalayan Ranges, it is dedicated to the tenth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh. The spot is located on a glacial lake and is surrounded by seven peaks. It is accessible only between April and October.
Kailash Mansarovar is a temple of Lord Shiva located in the north direction of Lake Mansarovar. As per the preaching in Hinduism, water of this lake is considered as the purest and one who drinks it will get rid of all the sins committed in the past lives. The spot also attracts tourists from other territories like Nepal and Tibet. The shore of Mansarovar Lake is important for Buddhist pilgrims as there are several monasteries in the area. For Jains, the location of Kailash Mansarovar is important because they believe that the first Tirthankar Lord Shree Rishabhdev attained Nirvana here.
Some other important pilgrimage spots are Devprayag, Rudranath, and Panch Kedar. Devpryag is considered as the seat of pundits belonging to Badrinath. Rudranath is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Vaitarni is a famous spot here and its water is known as the 'Water of Salvation'. Panch Kedar includes the five important sites as Kedarnath, Rudranath, Kalpeshwar, Tungnath, and Madhyamaheshwar.
Other important attractions of Uttarakhand are Nainital, Valley of Flowers, Jim Cordett National Park, Mussoorie, Auli, Roopkund, and Rishikesh. Valley of flowers is a part of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and is known for the wide variety of distinct species of flowers and plants. The region is spread over an area of around 87 km and more than 500 different types of flowers are found here. Jim Corbett National Park is an important wildlife sanctuary in the area and species like the Indian Python, Leopard, Himalayan Black Bears, Indian Pangolins, and fishing cat. Auli is a major skiing site in the state. Roopkund is also known as 'Mystery Lake' as the remains of horses and humans belonging to Paleolithic age were found at the site.
Mussoorie is a popular hill station and honeymoon destination. The important places to visit here are Mussoorie Lake, Nag Devta Temple, Bhatta Falls, Van Chetna Kendra, Mossy Fall, Lake Mist, Jwalaji Temple, and Jharipani Fall. Nainital is famous for Naini Lake, Tiffin Top, and Naini Peak. Rishikesh is the main gateway to the Himalayan Ranges and is also known as the 'World Capital of Yoga'. The site is also a hot-spot for adventure-lovers as the site offers sports like white water rafting, hiking, bunjee jumping, and backpacking.
Uttarakhand is a big boon to the tourism industry in India. Rich collection of flora and fauna makes it even more worth visiting. The region is also well-equipped with standard hotels and transportation facilities to take care of your needs as a tourist and make your moments memorable.