Uttarakhand, or Uttarakhanda as it is known in the holy Hindu scriptures, is bordered by Tibet, Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It has a population of approximately 10 million people, 85% of whom subscribe to the Hindu religion. Just over 10% are Muslims, while the remaining minorities belong to Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

The famous Sage, Vyasa, is believed to have written the Mahabharata in Uttarakhand as he and the Pandavas camped in this region for a time. Several dynasties ruled over this area throughout history, including the Kunindas, the Katyuris, the Garhwals and the Kumaons. Then, this Indian state experienced increased growth and development between the 13th and 18th centuries, when it was under the headship of the Chand Rajas. With this movement came further enlightenment in the fields of art, literature and so on; a minor revolution. However, by the early part of the 1800’s this area was already under British rule. This lasted until India got political independence in 1947.

The tribal people of Uttarakhand are usually called Kumaoni or Garhwali, which refer to the area from which they originate and the dialects they speak (which have the same names), while the cattle herders of Teraj are called the Gujjar.

Almost all of this state is mountainous (much of which belongs to the breath-taking Himalayan Mountain Range), while two
Image of the River Ganges
River ganges flowing through valley in Rishikesh
thirds of it is covered in dense forests. As one makes their way further up the mountain slopes, the climate, vegetation and animals change dramatically according to the terrain and weather conditions. For this reason, Uttarakhand boasts subtropical forests (in the lower areas), alpine shrubs, meadows and glacial mountain peaks. Such biodiversity promises an unforgettable experience of India and its natural resources. The lowlands are used extensively for farming due to the flatter terrain and the warmer, more humid weather conditions. There are several parks and reserves throughout the state, each of which offers a new slant on the fauna and flora of the subcontinent.

The Uttarakhand economy is supported to a large degree by tourism. Myriads of tourists from all over India and the rest of the world visit this state to indulge themselves in its cultural, historical and natural treasures. Significantly, many of the Indian and Hindu travellers visit this area specifically with the aim of gaining greater spiritual insight, visiting the many shrines and temples, or paying homage to religious figures from the past. However, it is also a popular destination for those seeking adrenalin rushes as it offers a range of adventure activities (often within the cliff faces of the Himalayas). Ecotourism and rural tourism are popular in this diverse destination. The Valley of the Flowers is one of the most loved attractions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the Nanda Devi National Park.

Other must-see attractions include:

• The Temples of Jageshwar
• Hemkund (a famous pilgrimage site)
• The Mindroling Monastery
• Naini Peak (Nainital)
• Dorothey’s Seat (Nainital)
• Hanuman Garhi (Nainital)
• Mussoorie Lake (Mussoorie)
• Jwalaji Temple (Mussoorie)
• Van Chetna Kendra (Mussoorie)
• Rajaji National Park (Dehradun)
• Robber’s Cave (Dehradun)
• Malsi Deer Park (Dehradun)
• Kalika (Ranikhet)
• Jhoola Devi Ram Mandir (Ranikhet)

For more information, please view: http://www.uttaranchaltourism.net/

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