Uttarakhand is an Indian state (formerly known as Uttaranchal) located in the northern part of India.
Dehradun is the winter capital of Uttarakhand and is a rail head; and Gairsain, a smaller town located in the centre of the state is its summer capital.
After 1947, post India’s independence from the British Raj (rule), one of the princely states (States ruled by regional rulers under the affiliation of the British) - the Tehri princely state which consisted of the regions in Uttarakhand today, was merged along with some other neighbouring regions to form the state of Uttar Pradesh.
On 9 November 2000 again, a reorganization of the state happened, and the area consisting of the Garhwal and Kumaon divisions, was carved out from Uttar Pradesh’s Himalayan hill region, and was made a separate state which was named Uttaranchal. In 2006, this state was renamed as Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand has 115 cities and towns, which are divided into 13 districts, further grouped into 2 main divisions – Garhwal division and Kumaon division.
There are 1.1 crore (11 million) people in Uttarakhand, out of which 82.97% are Hindus, 13.95% are Muslims, 2.34% are Sikhs and less than 1% are Christians, Buddhists or Jains.
The culture in Uttarakhand basically is a blend of its people’s traditional ethics, moral values, simplicity of nature and the region’s rich mythology, and ancient, roots. The locals here are divided into 2 main regions and are better recognized as either Kumaoni (Inhabitants of Kumaon region cities and towns) or Garhwali (Inhabitants of Garhwal region cities and towns).
A large part of the population follows Hinduism here, and so most of the pilgrimage sites and devotional centres are Hindu worship places. Folk dance and folk music are sabundant here, especially during Hindu festivals. Uttarakhand’s popular folk-dance forms include: Barada Nati, Bhotiya Dance, Chancheri, Chhapeli, Choliya Dance, Jagars, Jhora, Langvir Dance, Langvir Nritya, Pandav Nritya, Ramola, Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances, Thali-Jadda, and Jhainta which are performed on various occasions in the state, along with local folk music.
Hindi is the official language of Uttarakhand – It is spoken natively by more than 40% of the population and but is also understood throughout the state.
Sanskrit, additionally, was declared a second official language as Uttarakhand has many devotional sites to which this historic and classical language is special.
Other regional languages spoken in Uttarakhand are Garhwali (in the western part of the state) and Kumaoni (in the western part of the state).
Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisines are predominant in Uttarakhand, and respectively eaten in cities under Garhwal division and Kumaon division.
Garhwali cuisine is mostly grain and cereal based, and dishes are cooked with minimal spices and simple tempering, yet are highly flavourful and rich, with unique flavours that complement the mountainous environment. Gahat ke Paranthe is a famous breakfast dish in the Garhwal side. It is prepared by stuffing cooked Gahat (a special brown lentil which is a staple in Garhwal) into a mixture of wheat and finger millet flour. It is usually served with Bhang ki Chutney – a Garhwali side dish made with hemp seeds, cumin seeds, garlic leaves and tamarind.
On the Kumaoni side, certain fried semolina spiral-shaped snacks called Singals are a vital part of the festival cuisine. These are spongy and sweet, and are made using semolina, bananas, curd (yogurt), milk, sugar, and cardamom. Kumaon people and Uttarakhand’s other locals too love relishing Singal with Aloo Ke Gutke (potatoes cooked in mustard oil and spices) and Pahari Raita (a cold dish containing yogurt/curd, cucumbers and yellow mustard seeds).
Trains and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Uttarakhand. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars.
Airports – Uttarakhand has 4 domestic airports (connecting to other cities within India only); as of now the state doesn’t have an international airport but the nearest international airports are in New Delhi and Chandigarh and other neighboring states.
Railway Stations – Uttarakhand has 42 train terminals/railway stations throughout its area, that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:
Bus Terminals – Uttarakhand has its own line of state-run buses (by Uttarakhand Transport Corporation - UTC) which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. All UTC buses can be boarded at major stops/terminals that are available in every district and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.
Uttarakhand is filled with pilgrimage sites and hill stations. It has great spots for calming activities like bird watching, safaris, yoga, meditation and also various activities for adventure lovers such as skiing, trekking, bungee jumping, river rafting, etc.
Jim Corbett National park – India’s oldest national park (established in 1936) is located in Uttarakhand, and houses the largest percentage of the endangered species of Bengal Tiger in India, which it is assigned to protect.
Rishikesh area in the state is known for its adventure experiences like river rafting and bungee jumping, and is also voted the best place in the country for these activities.
Uttarakhand has many interesting places that people can travel to or explore; and which are perfect for a short vacation or a weekend getaway, such as –
Jim Corbett National Park – India’s oldest national park (established in 1936) is located in Uttarakhand, and houses the largest percentage of the endangered species of Bengal Tiger in India, which it is assigned to protect.
Popular must-see picturesque hill stations like:
Popular pilgrimage sites like:
…and is also voted the best place in the country for these activities.
Other places like Mussoorie, Nainital, Shivpuri, Auli, Ramgarh, Haridwar, Binsar, Jim Corbett etc. offer thrilling activities such as-
Uttarakhand also has many historical places to see. Some popular spots of historical significance in the state are -