Location: Uttarkand is state in the northern part of India. It was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in November 2000. This is also referred to as devbhumi as it is home to several temples and pilgrimage centers. It has borders with Himachal Pradesh, Nepal, China, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Climate: Uttarakhand is divided into a smaller plain region and a region with hilly terrains. Weather in the two regions are quite different from each other. Distinct summer, winter and monsoon seasons can be experienced in the whole of Uttarakhand.
Summers, which extend from April to June, are mostly pleasant in most of Uttarakhand. There are though some places like Haridwar and Rishikesh in the plains where temperatures can reach 40 degrees or more during summers. Coupled with humidity, this can be pretty uncomfortable.
Winters, which extend from October to February, in Uttarakhand are quite cold, with several places up in the hills receiving regular snowfalls. Temperature ranges from sub zero to about 15 degrees Celsius. The winter season in Uttarakhand generally extends from October to February.
From July to September it is time for monsoon in Uttarkhand. Temperature generally ranges from around 15 degrees to 25 degrees. The state receives huge rainfall during this season. More than 90% of the total precipitation happens during this period. There are chances of landslides and flash floods all over the hilly terrain.
Cuisine: The primary food of Uttarakhand includes vegetables, though non-vegetarian food is also served and savored by many. Coarse grain with high fiber content is very common in Uttarakhand cuisines. Other food items which are famous are – mundua (Buck wheat) in the interior regions of Kumaun, and linguda, which is grown on the borders of Tibet and Nepal. Milk and milk based products are not so common though. Ghee and mustard oil are generally used as cooking oil.
Made from spinach and fenugreek leafs and cooked in an iron kadhai, kafuli is quite a popular dish. This is complimented by hot steaming rice. Alu ka Jhol, Gahat ke Paranthe, and Chainsoo are some of the popular dishes in Uttarakhand. Chainsoo is a popular high protein dish from Garhwal and is made of Urad or Kali Dal (whole). Phaanu is another excellent lunch option, consumed with rice. This is a complex dish made using different kinds of lentils.
Things to do: Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India. It has some amazing places offering breathtaking views of the hills and valleys. One can have magnificent views of snow clad mountains. There are many trekking routes all through the states, be it Garhwal region or Kumaon region. There are options to have skiing and also enjoy water rafting and paragliding.
Uttarakhand is home to some of the most revered religious places. The famous ‘Char Dhams’ – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri – are all in Uttarakhand only. Uttarakhand is from where both Ganga and Yamuna originate. Hemkund Sahib is also in Uttarakhand only.
Other than these, Uttarakahand is home to popular hill stations like Mussoorie, Nanital, Kausani, Ranikhet, Almora and many more. There are some lovely dense forests also. Corbett National Park and Rajaji National Park are two such gems providing residence o tigers, leopards, elephants, deer, monkey varieties, and many more animals and plants and trees.
One can undergo yoga and meditation courses at various places in Uttarakhand.
Places to visit:
1) Haridwar: Haridwar is regarded as one of the most sacred places for Hindus. This is the place from where Ganges River enters plains after crossing the hills and valleys. Kumbh Mela is celebrated here once every 12 years. Rajaji National Park, a popular destination for wild life and adventure lovers, is just 10 kms from Haridwar. Recently industries have also started coming up in and around Haridwar.
2) Rishikesh: Rishikesh is a scenic located town where Ganges River comes from the Himalayas. A popular tourist place, Rishikesh is just 30km from Haridwar in Dehradun district. Rishikesh shot to fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram. It is the gateway to the upper Garhwal region and the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrimage (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath). Rishikesh is today well known destination for white water rafting.
3) Nainital: Nainital, situated at an elevation ranging from 1940-2100 above sea level and set in a valley containing a pear-shaped lake, is a popular hill station in Uttarakhand. Nainital is often referred to as the Lake District of India. Naina Temple situated on the banks of Naini Lake is also a famous religious place.
Nainital is surrounded by mountain peaks on all sides. Highest of these are Naina Peak (2,615 m (8,579 ft)) on the north, Deopatha Peak (2,438 m (7,999 ft)) on the west, and Ayarpatha Peak (2,278 m (7,474 ft)) on the south.
4) Mussorie: Located about 35 km from the state capital Dehradun, Mussoorie, situated in the Garwal region, is quite a popular hill station. Tourists flock to the hill station in huge numbers, particularly during the time when there is summer season in North India. It is often referred to as the Queen of Hills and is a gateway to Ganotri and Yamnotri.
5) Dehradun: Capital city of Uttarkhand, Dehradun is situated in the Doon Valley at the foothills of the Himalayas nestled between two of India’s mightiest rivers — the Ganges on the east and the Yamuna on the west. It is gateway to places like Mussoorie, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Dehradun boasts of some of the finest educational institutes like Doon School, Welham School for girls and boys, and instiitutes like Indian Military Academy and Forest Research Institute.
6) Almora: Almora, a municipal board and cantonment area, is the district headquarters of the district of the same name. It is often said to be the cultural capital of Kumaon region. Almora is situated on hillock in the shape of a horse saddle and is surrounded by thick forests of pine and fir trees. Flowing alongside the city are Koshi (kaushiki) and Suyal (Shalmali) rivers. The snow-capped Himalayas can be seen in the background. There are some ancient temples in and near Almora.
7) Chamoli: Chamoli, often referred to as Abode of Gods, is known for its pilgrimage centers like Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Joshimath. Second largest district of Uttarakand, Chamoli is also home to Hemkund Sahib. The famous and unique Valley of Flowers is in Chamoli district only. Skiing destination of Uttarakhand, Auli, is also in Chamoli district. Chamoli came into political and social significance when Chipko movement was launched here.
8) Corbett: Corbett is known for the oldest national park of India. It is situated in Nainital district and is known for wide varieties of flora and fauna it has on offer. The elevation of the park varies from 1180ft to more than 3400ft. It has a number of ravines, ridges, small streams and plateaus. Corbett National Park has a good population of Royal Bengal tigers and Asian elephants. It has a variety of birds as well.