Uttarakhand

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Are you someone who likes watching the clouds kiss the mountains, feel the breeze on your face, watch trees long and tall, and experience climate change in a matter of minutes? If yes, then I have the perfect holiday destination for you. You don’t have to go all the way to Switzerland to see lush green roads and inhale pure air. All you have to go is travel north. I am speaking about Uttarakhand which was in news recently because of the disaster and havoc floods caused. It’s a beautiful paradise seated in the Himalaya’s lap.

Uttarakhand formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the “Land of the Gods” due to the many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centers found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon.

Uttarakhand has many tourist spots due to its location in the Himalayas. There are many ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, hill stations, and mountain peaks that draw large number of tourists. There are 44 nationally protected monuments in the state.Oak Grove School in the state is on the tentative list for World Heritage Sites.Two of the most holy rivers in Hinduism the Ganga andYamuna, originate in Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand has long been called “Land of the gods”as the state has some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and for more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been visiting the region in the hopes of salvation and purification from sin.  Haridwar, meaning “Gateway to God”, is a prime Hindu destination. Haridwar hosts the Kumbha Mela every twelve years, in which millions of pilgrims take part from all parts of India and the world. Rishikesh near Haridwar is known as the preeminent yoga centre of India. The state has an abundance of temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or manifestations of Shiva and Durga.

Uttarakhand is, however, a place of pilgrimage not only for the Hindus. Hemkund, nested in the Himalayas, is a prime pilgrimage center for the Sikhs. Tibetan Buddhismhas also made it felt with the reconstruction of Mindrolling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa, described as the worlds highest, southwest of Dehradun.

Uttarakhand is not only a pilgrim state but also has some of India’s most famous hill stations.  Mussoorie,Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Sattal, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal, and Ranikhet are some of the popular hill stations in India.The state has 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.They are located at different altitudes varying from 800 to 5400 meters. The oldest national park on the Indian sub-continent, Jim Corbett National Park, is a must visit. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and Project Tiger run by the Government of India.

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In addition the state boasts Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vasudhara Falls, near Badrinath is a waterfall with a height of 122 meters (400 ft) set in a backdrop of snow-clad mountains.The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, hiking, and rock climbing in India. A recent development in adventure tourism in the region has been whitewater rafting in Rishikesh. Due to its proximity to the Himalaya ranges, the place is full of hills and mountains and is suitable for trekking, climbing, skiing, camping, rock climbing, and paragliding.Roopkund is a popular trekking site, famous for the mysterious skeletons found in a lake, which was covered by National Geographic Channel in a documentary.The trek to Roopkund passes through the beautiful meadows of Bugyal.

Escape the deadly heat in the month of May and spend some time in Uttarakhand where you can rejuvenate with your family. Bored of going to the same places with your friends, go to Uttarakhand and try some real adventures.

–          Anjani M Nautiyal

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