Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand  formerly known as Uttaranchal  is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Devbhumi (literally: “Land of the Gods”) due to many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. On 9 November 2000, this 27th state of the Republic of India was created from the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh.  It borders Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China on the north; the Mahakali Zone of the Far-Western Region, Nepal on the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the west and north-west as well as Haryana to its south-western corner. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The interim capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city in the region, which is a railhead. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.

Archaeological evidence support the existence of humans in the region since prehistoric times. The region formed a part of the Kuru and the Panchal kingdoms (mahajanpads) during the Vedic age of ancient India. Among the first major dynasties of Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century BCE who practised an early form of Shaivism. Ashokan edicts at Kalsi show the early presence of Buddhism in this region. During the medieval period the region was consolidated under the Kumaon Kingdom and Garhwal Kingdom. In 1816 most of modern Uttarakhand was ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals, the proximity of different neighbouring ethnic groups and the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions which further strengthened during the Uttarakhand movement for statehood in the 1990s.

The natives of the state are generally called Uttarakhandi or more specifically either Garhwali or Kumaoni depending on their place of origin. According to the 2011 Census of India, Uttarakhand has a population of 10,116,752, making it the 19th most populous state in India. A large portion of the population consists of Rajputs and Brahmins. About 83% of the population follow Hinduism. Islam is the largest minority religion in the state, followed by Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Jainism. Garhwali and Kumaoni along with other hilly dialects and sub-dialects are the main regional languages, whereas Hindi is the most widely spoken language. Uttarakhand is the only state in India with Sanskrit as one of its official languages.