Uttarakhand is truly a blissful state and its simplicity, lush green forests, and spirituality plants fond feelings in our hearts and mind. No matter what your interests are, Uttarakhand has a number of places to visit and the food is lip-smacking delicious. Planning a visit to Uttarakhand is a MUST!
We have no doubt that the land was created by Gods because thousands of animals and birds have found their home in this state. The land is gifted with a beautiful culture, snow-capped peaks, and lush forests. This is truly heaven! A land created by the Gods indeed.
Chardham and Other Pilgrimage Places of Uttarakhand
The ‘Char Dham’ or four abodes are the most famous destinations for spiritual souls. Since India is a religious country, devotees make plans for ‘Char Dham’ yatra. The four spiritual abodes include Puri, Badrinath, Rameshwaram, and Dwaraka.
Badrinath is located in Uttarakhand. It is believed that visiting the four abodes helps you to attain salvation (moksha). The Hindus believe that one must visit the ‘Chaar Dhams’ once in a lifetime. People seek blessings from the Lord and it gives their soul utter satisfaction.
There is a Chota ‘Chaar Dham’ which includes Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. All of these are located in Uttarakhand. As a devotee of God, one must visit these Dhams before dying. Not only it provides satisfaction to the soul, but the beauty of these Dhams will offer a visual treat.
There was a break in the yatra schedule after the year 2013. There was a massive flood due to heavy rain in Uttarakhand. However, the temple and roads have been restored and devotees are visiting the ‘Char Dham’. The yatra showcases the strong national unity in India! People from all walks of life and cultures come for the yatra. You will find Bengalis, Marathis, Punjabi, Odia, Rajasthani, and Gujaratis walking with great enthusiasm. The pilgrimages walk on foot because they believe that it shows their appreciation and devotion towards God.
Haridwar is one of the sacred cities in Uttarakhand. People from all over the nation come to this holy city to immerse the ashes of the deceased. It is believed that once the ashes have been submerged in the holy water of the Ganga river, the soul rests in peace.
There are sacred Ghats for taking a bath. Since the river’s depth is unknown, travelers cannot swim in the middle of the river without proper gear. Taking a dip in the cold water can be an exhilarating experience. However, the devotees believe that by taking a dip in the Ganga, all your sins will get washed.
If you are visiting Haridwar, Har ki Pauri should not be missed. This is where the evening Ganga aarti takes place. It is a visual treat for individuals! Travelers can also witness the evening aarti in Rishikesh. You will find a lot of foreign tourists in Haridwar and Rishikesh. Since Baba Ramdev has established Patanjali in Haridwar, yoga is practiced incessantly.
Foreign tourists and travelers from India practice yoga in Haridwar and Rishikesh. Meditation gives a sense of calm to the mind. Haridwar is located in the Garhwal district and it is a holy place to worship River Ganga.
Wildlife Destinations in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is the home of several animals and birds. Here’s a quick list of sanctuaries and national parks in the state.
Jim Corbett National Park
This is the most famous national park in India. The location is convenient and anybody coming from Punjab or Delhi can reach the destination easily. The roads that lead to Jim Corbett National Park are smooth. Also, one can witness thousands of mango trees on the way.
The national park houses exotic birds, elephants, king cobra, chital, nilgai, sambhar, and the most gorgeous Bengal Tigers. It was known as Haily National Park and then the name was changed to Jim Corbett. There are five different zones in the national park. Travelers need an entry pass to enter the zones. A jeep/canter/elephant safari is a much-loved activity in Jim Corbett.
Rajaji National Park
If you are visiting Haridwar, don’t miss the lesser-known Rajaji National Park. It is just 8 km away from Haridwar and 55 km from the capital city. This is a tiger reserve that was named after a popular freedom fighter named C. Rajagopalachari.
Pangot and Kilbury Wildlife Sanctuary
This is a bird watcher’s paradise. Travelers can visit the sanctuary near Nainital. There are approximately 580 species of birds that can be found in this sanctuary. The most spotted birds include Collared Grosbeaks, White-throated thrushes, and owls.
Nanda Devi National Park
Located 94 km from Badrinath, the Nanda Devi National Park is a famous spot for tourists. Since it is far away, you will not find a lot of crowds here. Since it is surrounded by mountains, visitors will get the best view of their life. In the year 2004, Nanda Devi was a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These were some of the most famous national parks and sanctuaries in Uttarakhand. There are a few more places that you can add to the list:
- Valley of Flowers – 300 km from Haridwar
- Gangotri National Park – Near Gangotri
- Nelong Valley – 34 km from Gangotri
- Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary – 26 km from Almora
- Benog Wildlife Sanctuary – 12 km from Mussoorie
In a nutshell, birds and animals are living peacefully in the above-mentioned national parks. They enjoy the lush green forests and abundance of food, sunshine, and rain. There is no dearth of water and the birds sing happily amidst the valleys and jungles.
Since the locals and authorities are sensitive towards the birds and animals, the tourist movement is restricted. In Jim Corbett, only the ones with a permit can go inside the park. No private vehicles are allowed because it disturbs the wildlife. Also, there is a limit to the number of jeeps and canters that can go inside the national park. The national parks and sanctuaries remain closed during monsoon season. This shows their sensitivity and responsibility towards the birds, animals, and trees.
Adventure Activities in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is also known for its adventure sports activities. If you do not want to go abroad and experience the thrill within the nation, head to Rishikesh. Travelers can do river rafting in River Ganga. The experience is fantastic and anybody can try it. There is no specific age limit! As long as you are an adult and are willing to experience the adventure, you can do river rafting.
However, the longer distance and advance level rapids are only meant for physically fit individuals. Families and friends can do the 9 km stretch. The rapids in this stretch are ideal for beginners. An instructor would train you and take care of all the members in the rafting boat.
Body surfing is included in the package. The instructor allows you to jump into the water with your life jackets. This is an excellent experience as you get to watch the sky and swim in the water. The basic 9 km stretch is called the Brahmpuri stretch. Shivpuri is the 16 km stretch which is best for those with a lot of strength and physical fitness. Rafting costs INR 450-500 per person.
Camping in Rishikesh near River Ganga is another fun activity. You can play beach ball, enjoy the bonfire at night, and do cliff jumping. Cliff jumping is fun and full of adventure. The instructor makes you stand on the cliff and you need to jump into the river with your life jacket.
Bungee jumping is possible in Rishikesh. You can visit Mohan Chatti where the action takes place. The experience is safe because the jumpmasters are from New Zealand. The experience is crazy but worth a try! You will be absolutely safe and the experience will be unforgettable. Avoid monsoon months for any adventure activity in Uttarakhand.
Fox flying or zip-lining is possible in Nainital, Mussoorie, and Rishikesh. If you are not afraid of heights or just want to eradicate the fear, then do try this adventurous activity. Two companions can try this activity together! This way you do not have to feel scared of what you see down below!
Skiing in Auli is another activity that you must not miss. GMVN Uttarakhand offers skiing training session that allows you to learn the basics.
Kayaking and Canoeing in Rishikesh can be done in the month of March and April. Kayaking is meant for individual riders and canoeing can include 1 or more individuals. The original idea behind kayaking and canoeing is to catch fish or go hunting. However, the activity has become a part of an adventurer’s to-do list. This cannot be undertaken by a beginner! The rapids will be too dangerous for a beginner. A professional can easily fight the rapids with their kayak.
Most Enchanting Places to Visit in Uttarakhand
Mussoorie: Mussoorie is considered as a very enchanting hill station of North India. The natural bounty of Mussoorie can only be felt by going and staying there. The wide region of green mountains is blessed with flora and fauna. You can enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas from the north-east and the Doon valley from the south. A trip to Mussoorie is a must for nature lovers.
Haridwar: Haridwar is counted as one of the revered holiest places in India. It is situated in a beautiful place Uttarakhand. Blessed by the ancient beliefs, a visit to this holy place is a must for every Hindu pilgrim. People come here to offer homage to the deceased members of the family. It also works as a gateway to nearby holy points like Rishikesh, Badrinath, and Kedarnath.
Rishikesh: Known as the Yoga Capital of around the world, Rishikesh has been in the list of top visiting places for not only Indians but foreigners. It has gained its reputation for having ashrams and temples at the foothills of the Himalayas. The distance from Haridwar to Rishikesh is 26 km. Pilgrims in large numbers come here every year.
Dhanaulti: If you are in a mood for a relaxed and laidback vacation, than Dhanaulti is the destination for you. It is a very charming but peaceful place, unlike nearby crowded hill stations. Dhanaulti is yet to be explored fully. You can enjoy leisure walks or serious trekking here. This weekend holiday spot is found on the Mussoorie-Chamba road. The height is around 2245 m above sea level.
Chamba: Chamba is perched at an elevation of 1670 m above sea level. It is based in the Tehri District at a distance of around 56 km. The pine and deodar forestation is very welcoming. You can spend a very quiet and amazing vacation in Chamba. The unexplored hill station is slowly catching up with the arrivals of new exciting tourists.
The other major tourist attractions of Uttarakhand are- Jim Corbett National Park, Garhwal, Kausani, Lansdowne, Ranikhet, Pithoragarh, Auli, Almora, etc. Every destination has its own charm and a story to tell. Plan a holiday around Uttarakhand and bring pleasant memories for a lifetime.
Uttarakhand General Information
Area: 53,486 (sq km)
Population: 84.80 (Lakhs)
Languages Spoken: Hindi, Garhwali, Kumaon
History of State
The state has been renamed thrice. At first, it was named Uttarakhand. It was renamed Uttaranchal, but in the year 2006, they made peace with the former name. Did you know that 70% of the state is situated in the mountainous region? As per the locals, it is believed that the state was created by God and that’s precisely why it’s called ‘Dev Bhumi’.
13 Districts make one beautiful state
There are 13 districts in Uttarakhand. Some of the hill stations are known to all travelers, but there are some lesser-known places that are yet to be discovered.
Here’s a quick list of the districts in Uttarakhand:
- Pauri Garhwal
- Tehri Garhwal
- Udham Singh Nagar
Welcome to the Capital
Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand. Earlier, it was a retirement home for older individuals but now there are fancy malls, bars, and restaurants for travelers. Nonetheless, the locals have protected the natural beauty of the city.
The majority of travelers like to stay in Dehradun to be close to city life. Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Mussoorie are very close to the city. Travelers can hire a cab or hop into a local bus to visit the famous hill stations near Dehradun.
Culture and Cuisine
The locals in Uttarakhand celebrate all the festivals like Diwali, Holi, and Navratri. However, there are some locals festivals like Bhitauli, Ghee Sankranti, and Harela. The people in this state are god-fearing and they attach meanings and value to rocks, stones, water, and every object. The locals worship Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva in the region.
As for the agricultural practices, the state is not as praise-worthy. People in Uttarakhand eat simple foods, but they have great skills in making fresh juices and non-vegetarian delicacies. As per the locals, the water is magical in Uttarakhand and thus, the food becomes tasty!
The usage of tomatoes and spice is minimal. The locals do not add a lot of oil, spices, or tomatoes in their food. Since fish is readily available in the water, people enjoy trout and other famous fishes. Did you know that obesity can be cured in Garhwal? Stay in Garhwal for 6 months and you will be physically fit. People are hardworking and do a lot of walking up and down the hills. Since walking and simple food is a part of their lifestyle, obesity is not an issue in Uttarakhand. Travelers will find mango and jackfruit trees in abundance!
The traditional folk dance of Uttarakhand includes Barada Nati, Langvir Nritya, and Pandav Nritya. The main languages spoken here are Kumaoni and Garhwali. However, visitors can make peace with Hindi as well.