Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Devbhumi (literally: “Land of the Gods”) due to the many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabar 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 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 Northwest as well as Haryana in the 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.

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Uttarakhand – the land of gods, the home of Himalayas and truly a paradise on earth, allures everyone from everywhere. The fresh air, the pure water, the chilling snow, the adverting mountains, the scenic beauty, the small villages, the simpler people and a tougher lifestyle is what that distinguishes Uttarakhand from rest of the world.It was known as Uttaranchal. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000. In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand,Uttarakhand is a ‘paradise’ for nature lover’s and adventure sports like river rafting, trekking, paragliding, Corbett jungle Jeep safari, enthusiasts. Mussoorie, the ‘Queen of Hills’; Nainital, the ‘Lake District’; Almora, the ‘Switzerland of India’; Ranikhet, Pithoragarh, Pauri and Munsiyari are just few highlights for the nature lovers. For adventure and excitement, one may choose Mountaineering (Bhagirathi, Chowkhamba, Nanda Devi Kamet, Pindari, Sahastrataal, Milam, Kafni, Khatling, Gaumukh), Trekking, Skiing (Auli, Dayara Bugyal, Munsiyari, Mundali), Skating, Water Sports like rafting, boating and angling and Aero Sports like Hand Gliding, Paragliding (Pithoragarh, Jolly Grant, Pauri). Uttarakhand is composed of two words, “uttar” meaning “north” and “aanchal” meaning “blessings.” Earlier known as “Devbhumi” meaning “the land of god,” Uttarakhand also nourishes a diverse and rich culture and monuments of historical importance. Uttarakhand is broadly divided into two zones Kumaon and Garhwal.

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Musk deer

Musk deer can refer to any one, or all seven, of the species that make up Moschus, the only extant genus of the family Moschidae.Musk deer are more primitive than cervids, or true deer, because they lack antlers and facial glands, and possess only a single pair of teats, a gall bladder, a caudal gland, a pair of tusk-like teeth and—of particular economic importance to humans—a musk gland.Musk deer live mainly in forested and alpine scrub habitats in the mountains of southern Asia, notably the Himalayas. Moschids, the proper term when referring to this type of deer rather than one/multiple species of musk deer, are entirely Asian in their present distribution, being extinct in Europe where the earliest musk deer are known to have existed from Oligocene deposits.

Himalayan monal

The Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), also known as the Impeyan monal, Impeyan pheasant, is a bird in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as Danphe, and state bird of Uttarakhand India, where it is known as Monal.Traditionally, the Himalayan monal has been classified as monophyletic. However, studies have shown that the male Himalayan monal of northwestern India lacks the white rump of other Himalayan monals, and it has more green on the breast, indicating the possibility of a second subspecies.The scientific name commemorates Lady Mary Impey, the wife of the British chief justice of Bengal Sir Elijah Impey.

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Rhododendron arboreum

Rhododendron arboreum, the tree rhododendron, also known as burans or gurans, is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a showy display of bright red flowers. It is found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Rhododendron arboreum is the national flower of Nepal; in India it is the state tree of Uttarakhand and state flower of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

Saussurea obvallata

Saussurea obvallata is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae. It is native to the Himalayas and Uttarakhand, India, northern Burma and southwest China. In the Himalayas, it is found at an altitude of around 4500 m.It is the state flower of Uttarakhand.Saussurea obvallata is a perennial growing to 0.3 m (1 ft). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. Flowers bloom in mid-monsoon (July–August) amongst the rocks and grasses of the hillside at an altitudinal range of 3000–4800 m. Flower heads are purple,hidden from view in layers of yellowish-green papery bracts, which provide protection from the cold mountain environment. The flowers can be seen till mid-October, after which the plant perishes, becoming visible again in April.Local names of this flower are Brahma Kamal, Kon and Kapfu.

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Uttarakhand has 28,508 km of roads, of which 1,328 km are national highways and 1,543 km are state highways.The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC), which has been reorganised in Uttarakhand as the Uttarakhand Transport Corporation, is a major constituent of the transport system in the state. The Corporation began to work on 31 October 2003 and provides services on interstate and nationalised routes. As of 2012, approximately 1000 buses are being plied by the “Uttarakhand Transport Corporation” on 35 nationalised routes along with many other non-nationalised routes.

There are also private transport operators operating approximately 3000 buses on non-nationalised routes along with a few interstate routes in Uttarakhand and the neighbouring state of U.P.For travelling locally, the state, like most of the country, has auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws. In addition, remote towns and villages in the hills are connected to important road junctions and bus routes by a vast network of crowded share jeeps.The air transport network in the state is gradually improving. Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, is the busiest airport in the state with six daily flights to Delhi Airport. Pantnagar Airport, located in Pantnagar of the Kumaon region have 1 daily air service to delhi and return too .There government is planning to develop Naini Saini Airport in Pithoragarh,Bharkot Airport in Chinyalisaur in Uttarkashi district and Gauchar Airport in Gauchar, Chamoli district. There are plans to launch helipad service in Pantnagar and Jolly Grant Airports and other important tourist destinations like Ghangaria and Hemkund Sahib.As over 86% of Uttarakhand’s terrain consists of hills, railway services are very limited in the state and are largely confined to the plains. In 2011, the total length of railway tracks was about 345 km.Rail, being the cheapest mode of transport, is most popular. The most important railway station in Kumaun Division of Uttarakhand is at Kathgodam, 35 kilometres away from Nainital. Kathgodam is the last terminus of the broad gauge line of North East Railways that connects Nainital with Delhi, Dehradun, and Howrah. Other notable railway stations are at Pantnagar, Lalkuan and Haldwani.Dehradun railway station is a railhead of the Northern Railways.Haridwar station is situated on the Delhi–Dehradun and Howrah–Dehradun railway lines. One of the main railheads of the Northern Railways, Haridwar Junction Railway Station is connected by metre gauge and broad gauge lines. Roorkee comes under Northern Railway region of Indian Railways on the main Punjab – Mughal Sarai trunk route and is connected to major Indian cities. Other railheads are Rishikesh, Kotdwar and Ramnagar linked to Delhi by daily trains.

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Cuisine

The beautiful state of Uttarakhand has a very simple, yet delicious cuisine. The food is nutritious as well as tasty. The primary food of Uttarakhand includes vegetables, though non-veg food is also served and savored by many. The primary characteristics of the Uttarakhand cuisine is that milk and milk based products is sparingly used here.Coarse grain with high fibre content is very common in Uttarakhand cuisines. Other food items which are famous are – mundua (Buck wheat) in the interior regions of Kumaun, linguda, which is grown on the borders of Tibet and Nepal. It is also a part of the Pahari cuisine as it helps to keep the stomach in order.Generally, either pure ghee or mustard oil is used for the purpose of cooking food. Use of tomato is minimal in the cuisines of Uttarakhand. Simple recipes of this state are made interesting with the use of hash seeds as spice.

Music & Dance

Uttaranchal, the land where the rhythmic Pahari music makes the people dance on its rhythm. The soulful music that reverberates the scenic landscape of Uttaranchal has inspired generations of singers, musicians and dancer since times immemorial. A tinge of spirituality that engulfs the natural beauty of the state, gives an invigorating boost to the music and dance of Uttaranchal. Every beautiful soul is sure to find solace in the ballads and movements of the Pahari dance, so it is inevitable that tourists are advised to take up music and dance tours of Uttaranchal and experience the magic of musical rhythm and poignant dance movements.

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Art & Crafts

The state of Uttarakhand has a rich tradition of various arts and crafts like painting, wood carving, jewelry making, candle making, decorative temples and of course performing arts like music and dance. Their inspiration was obviously the lush green surroundings, the turquoise sky and the snow filled mountains which could make anyone poetic.The tranquil environs form a base for a treasure-house of artistically inclined people.The most prominent craft of Uttaranchal is wood carving. Every Garhwali home, let alone the palaces, has an intricately carved wooden entrance door. Talking of palaces, the most notable wood-carved architectural wonders are the Chandpur Fort, Temple of Srinagar (Garhwal), Pandukeshwar (near Badrinath), Devi Madin (near Joshimath), and Devalgarh Temple. The next in line are the fine-arts including the Miniature Paintings and Aipan & Peeth.

Attire

Clothing of Uttarakhand depicts the lifestyle, tradition and religion of the ethnic communities (Kumaoni and Garhwalis) of the northern state of India. Uttarakhand is bordering with the neighboring states Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. So, the people have adopted the traditional and lifestyle of these states as well. There are many Bengalis, Punjabis, Tibetan and Nepalis have settled in Uttarakhand. Garhwal hills have their own pattern of wearing costumes as per their cold climate. Wool obtained from sheep or goat for manufacturing warm clothes.

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Festivals

Some of the festivals celebrated in the Uttarakhand region are Basant Panchami, Bhitauli, Harela, Phool Dei, Batsavitri, Ganga Dusshera or Dasar, Dikar Puja, Olgia or Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Ghuian Ekadashi, Chhipla Jaat, Kandali, Janopunya, Kumaon Holi (including Khari Holi and Baithaki Holi) and Makar Sankranti (Ghughutia). These festivals provide a sense of uninhibited joy and a whiff of unsullied air recharging them. Festivals like Kandali have a special significance. It is celebrated by the Bhotiya tribe of the Pithoragarh, which coincides with the blooming of the Kandali plant, which flowers once every twelve years between August and October. Kandali last blossomed in 1999 and next celebration will be held in 2011. Chhipla Jaat on the other hand, has people undertaking a five day barefoot journey every three years to Chhipla Kedar as a means to express different aspects of human faith. These are just the two of them, read about the rest of them in this section.