Uttarakhand, earlier known as Uttaranchal, is a hilly state situated in the North of India. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, is also known for its beautiful surroundings, as it lies in the Doon Valley. The state has a total area of 53,483 sq km and is mainly divided into two parts; Garhwal and Kumaon. The state is also famous for its rich natural resources, dense forests, glaciers and snow-clad peaks.
Uttarakhand, well-known as the "Land of the Gods" or "Dev Bhoomi", has the most sacred Hindu temples or the Char Dhams - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, in the state. The state is the point of origin of the most sacred and famous rivers of the country, Ganga and Yamuna. Uttarakhand also houses the "Valley of Flowers", which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Uttarakhand is home to all the famous hill stations of northern India, such as Nainital, Uttarkashi, Mussoorie and Chamoli. The dense jungles of Uttarakhand make it a perfect home for 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Besides the picturesque views of the hills, religious destinations, the state also offers various adventure sports such as trekking, climbing, and water rafting.
Hill stations in Uttarakhand
Uttaranchal is also known for its famous hill stations like Mussoorie, Chopta, Almora, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, valley of flowers and Sattal. These are some of the exotic hill stations in India that are filled with greenery everywhere adorned with snow capped peaks and beautiful wild flowers all over the places. The valley of flowers comprises of 250 species of wild flowers, which is a treat to the eyes. Dehradun the capital of Uttaranchal is the most beautiful hill station from the time of British Raj. It is a famous scenic spot and is also a very old city in India. Mussoorie has its green hills and rich flora and fauna. It comprises of the Himalaya snow ranges that you can see glittering from the city. Nainital is another tourist place that has equally beautiful places to visit.
Wildlife Reserves and National Parks
Various wild life sanctuaries and parks are found in the state. The famous Assan barrage is in Dehradun district at the confluence of river Yamuna and Assan. The Akot Musk deer sanctuary and is famous for the musk deer conversation that is carried on at this place. It also has leopard, barking deer, brown bear, civet cat, serow and many species. The Jim Corbett national park is the grandest and the oldest national park in Nainital district. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and project tiger carried by the Government of India. The Govind wildlife sanctuary in the Uttarakashi district is a significant place for endangered animals and also is rich in medicinal plants. The snow leopard can be seen here.
Uttaranchal is regarded as the most sacred place of Hindus as it has many holy temples and is the place where Lord Shiva resided. Badrinath and Kedarnath are the two places that have been a pilgrimage place since centuries. Badrinath has four dhams and is one of the holiest sites. Kedaranth comprises of holy shirne in Himalayas and the major one is the Shiva temple and is one of the twelve Jyothirlings of Lord Shiva. Gangotri is a place of Ganga who is believed to have touched earth here. The Goddess came here in the form of a river. Yamunotri, is the source of Yamuna River and the westernmost shrine. Haridwar is situated at the banks of river Ganga and is the ancient holy city of the Hindus. Rishikesh is the gateway to all the shrines of the holy places.
Uttarakhand is situated at the edge of the Himalayas, and shares its boundary with China (Tibet) and Nepal. The state has Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and it has Uttar Pradesh towards its South.
How to Reach?
The Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport to the state, and it is well connected to Delhi with regular flights. The state can also be reached via the domestic airport at Pantnagar in the Kumaon region.
The state only has 345 km of railway tracks. Kathgodam railway station is situated 35 km from Nainital, which is almost the last stop of the North East railways. It connects Nainital with Dehradun, Delhi and Howrah. The state also has railways stations at Pantnagar, Lalkuan and Haldwani. Dehradun and Haridwar railway stations are also among the most well-connected to other cities of the country. Rishikesh, Ramnagar and Kotdwar are also railheads.
The state has a well-connected road network of 28,508 kms, which includes 1,328 km of national highways and 1,543 km of state highways. The Uttarakhand Transport Corporation is the main mode of transport in the state, along with many private transport operators. The state is reachable by road to all the major cities of the country.
Best Time to Visit
The temperature during summers can go up to 40°C in the state, while winters are chilly as well. The state experiences medium to heavy rainfall during monsoons. Uttarakhand can be visited between March to June and September to October.
Places to Visit
The state of Uttarakhand has some of the best tourist destinations of the country. Some of the must-see places are:
Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Panch Kedar, Jim Corbett National Park, Nainital, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Haridwar, Almora, Rajaji National Park, Rishikesh, Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, Roopkund, Auli, Nanda Devi and Gaumukh.
- Due to the tricky terrains, it is essential that you travel safe and drive carefully.
- Carry a map with you, while trekking or out on your own.
- Carrying warm clothes is essential, as it is a hilly area and usually gets much cooler by evening.
- Avoid travelling into the hills during the rainy season, as the region is prone to landslides.
Being a major tourist destination, Uttarakhand offers various types of tours, such as Adventure Tours, Pilgrimage Tours, Nature and Wildlife Tours and Wellness Tours. You can choose from a tour of your choice and seek for the best options available. Packages can be availed from the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) and various private operators. The Char Dham Package may cost around Rs 10,000 per person, and the Do Dham Package may cost around Rs 8,500.
Apart from interesting tourist spots, Uttarakhand also offers various interesting activities such as: Skiing slopes in Auli; camping in Uttaranchal; trek to Hemkund Sahib; the Valley of Flowers; rafting in Rishikesh; mountaineering; hiking; rock climbing; bird watching; paragliding; wildlife safari and Gangotri Glacier trek.
Hotels and Accommodation Options
Uttarakhand has a large number of hotels, guest houses and resorts as accommodation options, suitable for every pocket. Being a tourism-driven state, the range of hotels varies from budget to high-range.
How many days are enough to Travel?
As Uttarakhand offers a wide variety of destinations, the number of days would vary for the kind of tourism you plan to take up - religious trip, adventure trip or simply a vacation to the hills.
Other than traditional foods, various other cuisines can also be found in restaurants in the state. You can try out some of the famous eateries such as the Sakley's Restaurant, Pyramid Cafe, Chotiwala, Lovely Omelette Centre, Little Buddha Cafe, Kasmanda Palace restaurant, Chetan Puriwallah, and Devraj Coffee Corner, to name a few.
Although, shopping options may not be in plenty in Uttarakhand, but you may pick up the following as souvenirs.
- Wood-carved articles
- Rudraksh articles
- Hand-made candles
- Organic items
- Fern showpieces
- Pickles and Jams
Mostly shopping is done around the mall areas of hill stations. Government emporiums as well as private shops also serve as good places to shop from. The Paltan Bazar and the Tibetan market are a few places one can shop from.
Tourist Helpline Numbers
Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) -
Tel: 91- 135- 2559898, 2559987
Places to Visit in Uttarakhand
More on tourist attractions of Uttarakhand
References: State Tourism Info
Last Updated on : November 19, 2014