A mesmerizing combination of hills and plains, Uttarakhand has always been a hit with travelers for an array of experiences it offers- staring from pure natural beauty to enthralling adventure activities, numerous pilgrimage sites and lovely cultural heritage. This state is known as Dev Bhoomi- the Land of Gods as it is a home to many Hindu pilgrimage sites.
The state of Uttarakhand encompasses the mountains of Garhwal and Kumaon regions bordering Tibet and Nepal. The beautiful deep river valleys of this destination are home to several micro-civilizations where religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are practiced in harmony. The snow mountain peaks of Uttarakhand are breathtakingly mesmerizing and Nanda Devi, one of the highest mountains in India (7816 m) is also located here. Earlier a part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand was established as an individual state in the year 2000.
Adventure sports in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is a wonderland for adventure lovers. Ideally located at the foothills of the Himalayas, this destination offers an amazing range of adventure activities. Come winter and skiing aficionados flock to Auli in great numbers. Rishikesh beckons you for river rafting, zip-line activities and bungee jumping, Badrinath and Kedarnath offer fantastic trekking routes, Mukteswar and Ranikhet are ideal for paragliding, Corbett and Chokuri are perfect for camping and the list seems endless.
Yoga and Meditation in Uttarakhand
Yoga and meditation is one of the major highlights of Uttarakhand and this is something you must try to experience rejuvenation to the hilt. Although there are many destinations where you can indulge in Yoga and meditation but Rishikesh is most famous of all. It is aptly called the Yoga Capital of the World. You will find many ashrams and resorts where you can learn yoga and meditation and even indulge in Ayurvedic therapies.
Culture of Uttrakhand
The rich traditional ethics, mythology and the simplicity of nature beautifully reflects in the culture of this state. The state is divided into two regions Kumaon and Garhwal and hence the people of Kumaon are called Kumaoni and the people of Garhwal are called Garwali. Majority of the population follows Hindu religion. Dance, music and festivals are intricately woven in the culture of the state. Its food and handicrafts are truly a treat for the eyes.
Cuisine of Uttarakhand
The cuisine of Uttarakhand is as mesmerizing as the state itself. Its local ingredients, herbs and spices render an amazing aroma and taste to the food. The cooking methods deserve special mention as they are elaborate and time-consuming which is one of the reasons for the great taste of the dishes. As you travel from one destination to another in this state, you will find change in their cuisines. Although the food is mostly vegetarian but chicken and mutton are also widely used here. You can expect some delicious non-vegetarian dishes too. Bhatt ki Churdkani, Arsa (a sweet dish), Kafuli(a preparation of local green leafy vegetables), Phannu, Badi, Rus( preparation of a number of lentils), Gulgula (a sweet snack), Kandalee ka Saag and Palau are the local and distinctive preparations of Uttrakhand.
Best Time to Visit Uttarakhand
Although this wonderful destination can be visited throughout the year but some of its destinations are best avoided in monsoon season in July and August. During winter it receives snowfall and transforms into a wonderland for tourists. Summer season is also good to visit as the salubrious climate of the place will make your holidays pleasant.
Shopping in Uttarakhand
You can take many beautiful souvenirs from Uttarakhand. Visit its colourful bazaars where you will find a variety of handicrafts such as woodcrafts, carpets, gems, jewellery, squashes, homemade jams, woolen articles, handmade candles, baskets and much more. Bal Mithai is a famous sweet of Uttrakhanad.
It is one of the major pilgrimage sites of India which attracts Indians and foreigners alike. This ancient city is ideally located at a place where the holy river Ganga emerges from the Himalayas to start its journey in north India. This holy city of Hindus Haridwar derive its name from two words ‘Hari’ meaning ‘God’ and ‘Dwar’ meaning ‘the gate’. The Har-ki-Pauri Ghat which literally means ‘the footsteps of God’ is the exact spot where the holy river Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains. Every evening at Haridwar is marked with Ganga aarti at Har-ki-Pauri wherein prayers are offered to gods and goddess and all devotees and pilgrims attend this aarti which is a great experience in itself. Haridwar is also one of the holy cities where the world largest religious gathering- Kumbh Ka Mela is held every 12 years. It is believed that a dip in the holy river Ganga removes one’s sins and liberates the soul. There are many temples and ashrams in this city.
Located just 24 km from Haridwar, Rishikesh is another popular town propitiously set on banks of the holy river Ganga surrounded by hills on its three sides. It is well known for being a place for learning and practicing yoga, meditation and many other aspects of Hinduism. You will also find many ashrams like Shivanand Ashram (the most famous one) and even luxurious yoga centers where you can enjoy holidays as well as learn yoga and ‘Ananda in the Himalayas’ is one of them. There are many small ashrams too. Rishikesh is synonymous with Lakshman Jhula which is a suspension bridge. Another suspension bridge is Ram Jhula. Devotees gather at Parmarth Niketan ashram for Ganga Aarti every evening. Rishikesh is also a great destination for adventure activities like river rafting, zip-lining, trekking, mountaineering, bungee-jumping etc. International Yoga Festival is held in Rishikesh every year which draws participants and visitors from across the globe.
Char Dham meaning four abodes are the four pilgrimage sites of Hindus which are highly revered by them. They are Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath and it is believed that one attains moksha by visiting these Char Dhams. Each Dham is dedicated to a specific deity- Yamunotri is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, Gangotri is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. These sacred places are also blessed with pristine natural beauty, majestic mountains, lovely rivers and much more.
Jim Corbett National Park
It is the oldest national park of India which is home to endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. Ideally located amidst mountains and along the banks of Ramganga river, the Park boasts of around 50 species of trees, 580 bird species, 50 species of animals and 25 reptile species. Sprawling across 500 sq km, the Park consists of hills, streams, grasslands, and marshy depressions. It encompasses 5 zones namely Dhikala, Domunda, Bijrani, and Jhirna. Go on a jungle safari in Jim Corbett and experience wilderness at its best.
Valley of Flowers National Park
It is a sparkling jewel in the crown of Uttarakhand which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This high altitude Himalayan valley, located at an altitude of 3658 m, is famous for its beautiful and colourful meadows of endemic alpine flowers and many kinds of other floral species. It boats of around 300 flower species. It is also inhabited by a variety of rare and endangered animals such as musk deer, black bear, snow leopard, blue sheep, high altitude birds and many more. It spreads over 87 km square and is 2 km wide and 8 km long. To its east at around 23 km lies the well known Nanda Devi National Park. Together both these Parks are a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere. In order to reach the Valley of Flowers one needs to trek for 17 km and the nearest town is Joshimath.
Hemkund Sahib, a Sikh place of worship, is a famous pilgrimage site near the Valley of Flowers where devotees come from far and wide. Hemkund is a sacred laked hemmed in by seven peaks.
Nainital is a famous hill station of Uttarakhand and is also known as the ‘Lake District of India’. Located at an altitude of 1,938 m above sea level, Nainital offers amazing views, serenity and the lovely Naini Lake where you can enjoy a ride enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains. Other attractions of Nainital are busy market, interesting walking tracts, forested slopes, Naina Devi Temple, Tiffin Top, and Eco Cave Gardens and many options of accommodation and food. Bhimtal and Mukteshwar are other wonderful destinations to explore and are located very close to Nainital.
Located ideally in the foothills of Himalayas, Dehradun is the capital city of Uttarakhand. It is picturesque and offer great views of River Ganga and Yamuna. Its splendid architecture talks a lot about its rich history. Some of the famous attractions of Dehradun are Sikh temple Gurdwara Nanaksar, Mindrolling Monastery, Tiger Falls, Forest Research Institute, Tapkeshwar Temple and Tapovan.
It is the place if you are looking for the perfect combination of natural beauty and adventure. Auli is a famous skiing destination of India. The Auli artificial lake is one of the highest man-made lakes in the world. Located at an altitude of 3,049 m, Auli is beautifully hemmed in by oak and coniferous forests. The major attractions of Auli include Nanda Devi and Nar Parvat mountains; Auli Ropeway (connects the hill stations of Joshimath and Auli), wildlife like snow leopards and red foxes. It also boasts of great trekking routes.
Nanda Devi Peaks
It is the second highest mountain in India located at an altitude of 7,817m in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is named after Goddess Nanda, bliss giving goddess. It holds great religious significance as well as ecological importance. The famous Nanda Devi National Park with a rich diversity of flora and fauna is located near it. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By Air: The Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun and Pantnagar airport near Nainital are the two domestic airports of Uttarakhand. Regular flights are operated from there to major cities of India. Pantnagar offers limited flights.
By Rail: Uttarakhand is well connected by rail to some of the major cities of India. Some of the important junctions of Uttarakhand are Haridwar, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Kathgodam, Pauri and Udham Singh Nagar.
By Road: The destinations of Uttrakhand are well connected with each other and to the major highways of the state and cities of India by a wide network of road.
The arrangement of our trip was so perfectly done, that i could not find even a single fault or drawback for which i could provide a suggestion. We are so much impressed and touched by the hospitality and services provided. To be frank, we have already started to plan for our next holiday, may be sometime in the end of the year. We will get back to you soon :-) Thanks again Exceptional Escapes.....you guys are truly EXCEPTIONAL!!!! - read more...
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Airport Representative was very Good Tour & Guide Services was very Good Ground Services was excellent Hotel Services was excellent - read more...
Generally all are good except that in shimla. Silverine hotel is not a suitable hotel for elderly people as they need to walk up and downhill to the hotel….though the place is ideal for shoppers - read more...
Thank you so very much for going above and beyond to ensure that we had a wonderful trip. I have been telling everyone about your hospitality. I truly had a great time and I especially am thankful for all your organizing and to take time to show us your family and invite us to your home. You have a beautiful family and I think Choti (your little sister) is so adorable - read more...
Hi Gaurav, thanks for following up and for all your efforts in making all the necessary arrangements for my trip. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. A few suggestions on how you might improve your services for future bookings - read more...
Many thanks for putting together a wonderful and memorable vacation for us. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We did not find anything lacking from your side. It was our first visit to India and it seems like we are already planning to be back. The pace was hectic so we did not find much time to visit the local markets which we will have to make up next time - read more...
We reached home safely on Sunday morning (USA time) and slept most of the day. I cannot thank you enough for all your help and efforts in making our trip such a wonderful success. I will never forget the experiences we had and fun time we enjoyed all throughout the trip. I will send you pictures soon.....'not to worry!!!' - read more...
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