Unique, unadulterated - Uttarakhand. A state uplifted by the heavenly Himalayan peaks. A state unparalleled in its natural beauty - lakes, glaciers, and forests. A state, understanding of its religion. A state defined by its eclectic history and culture. A state untouched by capitalism’s magic wand. A state uncommercial to its very core. A state undiscovered, for the most part. Uttarakhand is so many things, but underwhelming is not one of them.
|Uttarakhand: A Quick View of the state|
|Population||10.356 million (as of 2018)|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Time Zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|Area||53,483 square km|
The capital city sits pretty at the feet of the Himalayan mountain ranges, offering worm-eye views of the stunning peaks and unfiltered stretches of blue sky. With the caress of the Ganga to the east, and the Yamuna to the west, Dehradun is protected in a prayerful bubble. Although it’s impossible to define this lovely city in just a few lines, we thought we’d give it a try. Pay tribute to Lord Shiva at a forest temple enshrined in a cave - Tapkeshwar Temple. Picnic, hike, or wade through a narrow gorge at Robber’s Cave. Water ski, kayak, or row at Asan Barrage Water Sports Complex. Get lost in the gracefulness of the golden coloured deer herds at Malsi Deer Park.
For all you Yogis out there, we’re sure Rishikesh tops your bucket list. Tranquillity meets adventure at this enchanting place. The solitude and sense of calm that it exudes is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Rishikesh personifies soul searching! It is the epicentre for reflection. But did you know that it has western musical significance too? Yes, it is home to the Beatles Ashram! It was here that the band studied meditation and wrote most of their songs from the album titled ‘White Album’. We recommend the following serene sights – Triveni Ghat, Laxman Jhula, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Bharat Mandir, and Ajay Mehandi Art.
Deemed as the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie is an idyllic little hill station with much in its repertoire to satiate a traveller’s hunger. Perfect for a weekend of individual contemplation, family frolic, or honeymooning, Mussoorie is a dreamland of gorgeous landscapes. When on tour check out some of these gleaming gems – Mussoorie Adventure Park, Camel’s Backroad, Jharipani Falls, Mussoorie Lake, Lal Tibba Scenic Point, Gunhill Road, and Cloud’s End.
Situated at approximately 2000m above sea level, Nainital proudly wears its title of being India’s Lake District. Jewelled around the periphery of Nainital Lake, from all sides, is the charming town that is often drenched with the evening lights. Colourful vistas adorn the mountains, which you can glimpse from the scintillating cable car rides. We urge you to create cherished memories at Snow View, Tiffin Top, Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary, Eco Cave Gardens, and Himalayan View Point. A trip to Nainital is incomplete without a visit to Jim Corbett National Park, a haven for the royal Bengal tiger.
To fathom the religious beats of Haridwar means to actually experience it in person. Haridwar acts as a ‘Gateway to The Lord’ with numerous sacred temples, shrines, and abodes in its bounty. It is also the backdrop of the revered Kumbh Mela. The leading religious attractions include - Har Ki Pauri, Chandi Devi Temple, Shanti Gunj, Maya Devi Temple, and Mansa Devi Temple.
The Garhwal district of Uttarakhand consists of one of most important Hindu pilgrimage sites – The Chota Char Dham Yatra. This holy journey is believed to be the path towards attaining spiritual salvation. The 4 abodes of God include Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath that worship Yamuna, Ganga, Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. Each dwelling is symbolised by a magnificent temple which is nestled in nature’s belly. Embarking on a trip like this requires careful planning and considerable stamina, so travellers are advised to prepare.
Simple, yet sumptuous - Uttarakhand’s cuisine. Meticulous care goes into ensuring that the food is not only tasty but aesthetic too. Everything that is prepared is authentic, well balanced and nutritious. Varied lentils and a variety of flowers are quintessential Uttarakhand ingredients. You must try Aloo ke gutke (potatoes cooked with roasted spices and served with fried bread and yogurt), Chainsoo (roasted lentils cooked on a slow fire) and Jhangore ki kheer (barnyard millet cooked with milk, sugar and garnished with dry fruits).
Blessed with the splendour of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar, and the Terai, Uttarakhand is deemed a natural oasis. Bordered with Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north, Uttar Pradesh in the south, Sudurpashchim Pradesh of Nepal in the east, and Himachal Pradesh in the west, Uttarakhand breathes with the winds of diverse cultures. Garhwal and Kumaon slit the state into 2 portions, while 13 districts manoeuvre the region proudly.
An ever-embracing state, Uttarakhand’s weather is agreeable most of the year. Its summers (March-June) are pleasant and a great time to soak in the scenic beauty and embark on adventures. Its winters (October-February) are biting cold but paint the landscape with snowy wonder. So, if you enjoy the cold, this is a beautiful time to visit the state. Its monsoons (July-September), however, experience heavy rainfall and fall prey to dampness and slipperiness. Hence, it is advisable not to tread the land in this season.
An intricate network of road ways weave through the state, offering accessibility to neighbouring states. Highways such as NH 108, NH 109, NH 119, NH 121, NH 123 and NH 72A, will ensure that you are spoilt for choice. Should you choose Uttarakhand’s efficient bus service or a taxi, you will be blessed with picturesque views.
The Uttarakhand railway department has opened up connections for tourists, maintaining as many as 16 stations which link the state to hubs such as Lucknow, Delhi and Kolkata, to name a few. Furthermore, there are railway stations in Haridwar, Dehradun, Kathgodam, Rudrapur, Tanakpur, and Pantnagar, that ensure ease of travel within and from outside the state.
To fly into and out of Uttarakhand, you can avail of Pantnagar Airport in the Kumaon district, Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, and Naini Saini Airport in Pithoragarh. Of the 3, Jolly Grant is the most well connected.
The discovery of rock paintings, stone tools, and megaliths throughout the state, suggest the existence of prehistoric civilisations. Over the centuries the following powerful clans ruled over Uttarakhand – Pauravas, Nandas, Mauryans, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Gurjara-Pratihara, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, Karkotas, Chands, and Parmars. Of particular significance were the reigns of the Garhwal Kingdom and Kumaon Kingdoms, respectively. Furthermore, Buddhism made its way into the region infusing the state with its meditative aura. Like with every other Indian state, eventually, the British seized control. By 1816, most of the region was relinquished to the English via the Treaty of Sugauli. Post-independence, the Garhwal kingdom was incorporated into the state, where Uttarakhand was bifurcated into Garhwal and Kumaon. Finally, in the year 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of Republic India (through the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act).
Indian Rupee (INR)
Uttarakhand, the North:Eastern paradise of India has many varied offerings. The awe:inspiring Himalayan Mountain Range crosses this region and the main city also hosts the very famous, “Ganga Aarti” every evening. The rich Jim Corbett National Park is home to India’s last remaining Bengal Tigers and a number of other rare species and tress. Rishikesh, the major yaga center here was made by the legendary American band the Beatles, here during their 1968 trip to India.
Few other places exhibit the extremities of India as perfectly as Uttarakhand. From low lying areas to hilly terrains with steep and high slopes that make you dizzy. From places with a lot of religious fervour to natural beauty in its most breath:taking form, Uttarakhand has it all. Located in the lap of natural tranquillity and picturesque beauty, it is one of the most scenic and peaceful states of India. The place offers plenty of activities for everyone coming here. The adventure lovers can enjoy, Zip:lining, Mountain Biking, Bungee Jumping, Skiing and even go on treks and hikes. Those interested in architecture and religion have amazing temples to check out all over the state. These temples boast of intricate designs and very artistic architecture. Uttarakhand offers all of this along with really amazing natural beauty, vast green landscapes and a really amazing weather to make the cocktail complete!
Uttarakhand, in its entirety, is a place of saga and folklores in combination with picturesquely beautiful mountain landscapes. It also boasts of the second highest peak, Nanda Devi, with a whopping elevation of 7,816 m. Its marked terrains are covered with impassioned peaks accompanied by soul:stirring freshwaters and rivers. Located on the Bhagirathi River, the Tehri dam (with a height of 261 m) is the highest dam in India. This location is fast growing into a hub for a number of water sports. Your Tourism in Uttarakhand would remain incomplete without visiting the spectacular pilgrimage sites that are situated on the elevated hitch:hiking trudges.
These are the places where most of the Hindu epic tales were set in the past. The ancient history of this place is abreast with the legends of Hindu gods and goddesses, the rule of British as well as The Beatles alike. Sir Jim Corbett has been, as if, immortalized by having a tiger reserve after his name as he was the one to play a key role in its establishment. The Beatles had come here as early as 1968 and had written much of ‘’The White album’’ in Rishikesh.
The story of their visit to the place transfigured Rishikesh’s holy land into one of the amazing focal points for unworldly claimants as well as yoga enthusiasts across the globe. A legend goes that sage Vyasa had scripted and penned the Mahabharata here as the five brothers, Pandavas, had camped in the region.
Uttarakhand has a population of 10.08 million. Depending upon their place of origin, Kumaon or Garhwal, the people of Uttarakhand are also known as Kumaoni or Garhwali respectively. The state has a large portio of Rajputs while also has the highest number of Hindu Brahmins than any other Indian state. It has many scheduled tribes as well, including Tharu, Raji, Buksa etc.
Hindi is the official language of Uttarakhand due the language’s origin tying back to the Indo:Aryan languages. It is spoken by about 88% of the natives, the language has many dialects in the area including Garhwali, Jaunsari and Kumaoni. Some Tibeto:Burman languages including Bhoti, Darmiya, Chaudangsi, Jad etc. are also spoken in the region.
Indian Rupee (Rs.) is the official currency of Uttarakhand.
Budget: For a traveller low on budget it is easy to get by in less than Rs. 3000 per day approximately. The amount can suffice for an accommodation in dorm rooms, travelling through local buses and trains and food from small eateries.
Mid:Range: A daily budget of around Rs. 3000 to Rs. 9000 is sufficient for an accommodation in mid:range hotels, meals at decent hotels and tickets for most museums or historic places and travelling through local cabs or auto rickshaws.
Luxury: A stay in a deluxe resort or hotel, meals in top restaurants, travel via train in first class or renting a car/ driver can all come under a daily budget of more than Rs. 9000 approximately.
ATMs are widely available but it is still wise to carry enough cash when travelling to farther areas of the state. Credit Cards are accepted at most big retail shops, hotels and restaurants.
Tipping is usually expected although a small service tax is generally is already added to bills. Bargaining can be required in most places but some shops only sell goods at fixed prices and may not entertain haggling for price reduction.
I had planned a 50th anniversary trip for my parents. I had a lot of concerns that if I should go with them or leave them for privacy, in the end I contacted Thomas Cook and they offered me a package which would suit my elderly parents the best. After their experience, I am not going to see any other travel agent in future.
When I flew over the majestic Himalayas during my paragliding session at Naukuchiatal, I was thankful to no one but Thomas Cook and its team that made everything possible. From Bungee Jumping session in Rishikesh to tiger safari in Jim Corbett National Park, our Uttarakhand tour package was amazingly designed.
Thomas Cook’s team happily extended our plan while we were on tour. We loved Kausani and Kanatal so much that we decided to spend a day extra at both places. Thanks to Thomas Cook, we had a memorable honeymoon experience. Our driver, Surendar, knew hidden waterfalls, sunrise point, temples and markets. He would provide us with options and we used to decide a plan for next day.