Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful northern states of India that enthralls everyone with its spectacularly scenic landscapes. Charming hill stations juxtaposed against snow-capped peaks, quaint villages along winding mountain roads, serpentine rivers carving their way through the hills, world renowned conservation parks like ‘Jim Corbett Tiger National Park’ and ‘Asan Wetland Conservation Reserve’, world heritage sites like ‘Valley of Flowers’ and ‘Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve’, waterfalls hurtling down slopes and serene lakes shimmering amidst beautiful towns – that’s Uttarakhand for you.
Numerous sprawling parks speak of Uttarakhand’s continuous efforts to conserve its natural ecosystem; its rich culture and religious heritage ensures that it remains on top of everyone’s travel plan. It has been a favoured choice for travellers from around the world, who visit this mighty land every year to attain salvation for a life transforming experience. Here, you can easily satiate all your adventurous desires; be it flying like a bird, cruising through the strenuous rapids of the Ganges, trekking to some of the fascinating peaks, skiing through some of the picturesque slopes and enchanting destinations, enjoy the longest cable-car ride in India and much more. In short, Uttarakhand is a dream destination for all.
Nestled amidst the Doon Valley in the state of Uttarakhand, Dehradun city is a very popular hill station that beckons solo travellers, families and couples alike. Winter Capital of Uttarakhand, it proudly boasts of a scenic backdrop of the Garhwal Himalayas. Dehradun is located at an altitude of 1400 feet above sea level and has a pleasant climate all year round. Regardless of whether you want to explore family-friendly tourist spots, try thrilling adventure activities with your friends, or watch a mesmerizing sunset with your partner amidst the mountains, Dehradun is the answer.
As you would expect from a city located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Dehradun abounds in caves, waterfalls and natural springs. One such extremely popular spot is Robber's Cave, which is a natural cave surrounded by hills. Dip your feet in the ice-cold water or walk through it – travellers are free to take their pick, making Robber's Cave one of the most popular picnic and excursion spots in the city. Another popular spot for nature lovers is Lacchiwala, where you can sit and enjoy a relaxing sunset around the man-made lake and the lush greenery around it. Lacchiwala also has arrangements for trekking and birdwatching, if you're up for it.
Mussoorie, Queen of the Hills, located some 290 km north of New Delhi, is among the most popular hill stations of the country. It is a captivating paradise for leisure travellers and honeymooners. A perfect summer resort and a major educational and cultural centre has been rolled into one hub. Located on a 15 km long horseshoe ridge with the grand Himalayas as a backdrop, the colonial hill resort of Mussoorie spreads across at a height of 2,005.5 m above sea level. From this vantage point, Mussoorie offers superb scenic view of peaks of the Himalayas in western Garhwal. Mussoorie boasts of some of the most spectacular views of the Himalayas. Hill ridges, irregular in shape and partly wooded, form layer after layer to the horizon, where snow capped mountain peaks are visible as though you can touch them.
From West to East, the mighty peaks of Bandar Poonch, Srikantha, the Gangotri group and the Chaukhamba present a mesmerizing panorama. 34 km from Dehradun, Mussoorie overlooks the majestic Doon valley to its south and the impressive Himalayas up north. The mountains beckon climbers, trekkers and adventure sport enthusiasts. Trekkers begin their journey into the popular trekking area of Har Ki Dun with its snowscapes and verdant-forested slopes from Mussoorie. The holy River Ganga is visible from one end of the ridge and Yamuna from the other, a stretch of around 20 km in all, from Cloud’s end in the west to Jabarkhet in the east.One of the most easily accessible hill stations in Northern India, during the peak tourist season, Mussoorie becomes a bustling resort with hordes of holiday-makers ambling down the central Mall. The suburban area of Landour, about 300 m away from the main town, is quieter and has managed to retain some of its old colonial charm. Surrounded by lush wooded expanses and winding lanes, it offers exclusive opportunities for quiet walks. It overlooks the sprawling Doon valley and the city of Dehradun, the gateway to Mussoorie and to entire Garhwal.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas along the convergence of Ganga and Chandrabhaga River, Rishikesh is a small town in the Dehradun district, located close to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Rishikesh (also called as Hrishikesh) is known for its adventure activities, ancient temples, popular cafes and as the “Yoga Capital of the World". Gateway to Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh is also a pilgrimage town and one of the holiest places for Hindus.
Rishikesh became known worldwide in the 1960s after The Beatles visited the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi here. Today, the place is popular as The Beatles Ashram which beckons tourists globally. The tranquil town has long been a spiritual centre but is equally popular for the whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking and camping along the fast-flowing Holy Ganges. It also serves as the gateway to many Himalayan treks.
As it lies on the holy banks of river Ganga, Rishikesh has been a hub of Sadhus (saints) with numerous ashrams teaching spirituality, yoga, meditation and Ayurveda springing up. Since it is a religious town, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited here. Rishikesh sees the most beautiful evening aarti on the banks of the river Ganga, which is not too crowded unlike its contemporaries in Varanasi, and Haridwar. The International Yoga Festival is organised here in the first week of March which sees yoga enthusiasts from all over the globe.
Rishikesh is divided into two main areas – the downtown area known as Rishikesh town which is where the popular TriveniGhat is situated. 2 km upstream from the popular Ram Jhula and LakshmanJhula is the other side of Rishikesh where most of the popular ashrams, cafes, accommodation and tourists can be found. Haridwar and Rishikesh are the first Indian cities to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities".
Yoga Centres, Rishikesh Overview
Rishikesh is a major hub of Yoga Centres in India. The serene location so close to nature, the unpolluted air, its highly religious & spiritual significance and a good number of Yoga institutes ensure a soulful and a healthy vacation away from the chaotic, fast-paced, stressful lives. It is a perfect destination for those seeking ways to rejuvenate their mind, body and soul.
Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park set amidst the foothills of the Himalayas in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Known for housing the endangered Bengal tiger, Corbett National Park is part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Famous for its wildlife safaris, Jim Corbett National Park has multiple resorts set on the riverside. Home to more than 650 species of rare and migratory birds, it is a haven for bird watchers. The most popular attraction at Corbett National Park is Dhikala, a forest lodge located on the border of Patil Dun Valley, which is known for the stunning location and rich wildlife.
Only 180 vehicles are allowed to enter the national park in a day. Jim Corbett National Park remains closed from July to October during the monsoons. However, Jhirna, Dhela and Sitabani tourism zones remain open for tourists throughout the year. Safaris are organised in all the zones by two shifts by the forest officials in all the zones.
The Jim Corbett National Park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park and is named after Jim Corbett who is a famous hunter and naturalist. It was the first place where Project Tiger was launched in 1973. The park is spread over an area of more than 500 sq km and is divided into 5 zones: Bijrani, Dhikala, Jhirna, Domunda and Sonanandi to promote tourism.
The gem of Uttarakhand – Nainital is a charming hill station that sits prettily at the green foothills of the Kumaon ranges in the Himalayas. Located at an elevation of around 1938 metres, Nainital is located and developed around the beautiful Naini Lake, after which the town is named. The most visited hill station in North India, Nainital is a perfect weekend getaway from the Indian capital of Delhi and the nearby places.
Founded by the British due to its resemblance to the Cumbrian Lake District, Nainital brims with elegant colonial structures that amplify the beauty of this place. It experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year, making Nainital a tourist getaway, especially preferred by families and honeymooners. The Naini Lake, along with the other lakes in the area, has earned this town the title of ‘City of Lakes’. The most popular activity for tourists visiting Nainital is boating the in Naini Lake, while few others visit for trekking in the surrounding mountain regions.
Whether you want to go boating on the beautiful Naini Lake, relish some local delicacies, shop at the Tibetan Market and Mall Road, or take a ropeway ride to soak in the beauty of the Himalayas from Snow View Point, Nainital is sure to leave an imprint on you that will last a lifetime.
Dotted with the apple orchards, old oaks, and pine trees there is no dearth of natural beauty in Auli. Apart from skiing you can also go for numerous treks in the hills of Garhwal Himalayas and enjoy the spellbinding views of the snow-draped mountains. Auli is a popular hill resort in the Himalayan range dating back to the 8th Century AD. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVL) runs a ski resort and a ski rental shop.
Auli is a popular skiing destination in India because of its glittering slopes and clean environment. Dotted with apple orchards, oaks and deodars, Auli is a popular hill town with numerous ski resorts situated amidst the Himalayan range. Located at 2800 meters above sea levels, it is home to mountain ranges of Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamat Kamet. Many religious destinations are also scattered around Auli. It is believed that Shankracharya had blessed Auli with his visit.
Often referred to as “Little Kashmir", Munsiyari is a cosy hamlet located in the Pithoragarh District of Uttarakhand. Situated at an altitude of 2298 metres, the pretty little hill town is known for its panorama of snow-capped Himalayan Range and some adventurous trekking trails.
Perched between the borders of India, Tibet and Nepal, Munsiyari is a base for three glaciers namely Namik, Milam and Ralam Glaciers. The scenic village is often seen romancing with brilliant weather throughout the year and the stunning backdrop of Panchachuli (the five peaks), Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot. Also dubbed 'Gateway to Johar Valley', Munsiyari is the starting point of Johar Valley which was the ancient trade route between Tibet and India.
Located on the Garhwal Himalayan Range in the Rudraprayag District, Kedarnath is one of the most sacred temples and the holiest Hindu pilgrimages in India. A part of Chhota Char DhamYatra in Uttarakhand, Kedarnath is the most important among the 12 Jyotirlingas in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kedarnath Temple can only be reached from Gaurikund through a trek and remains open only for six months from April to November, due to heavy snowfall in the region the rest of the months.
During the winters from November to May, the diety is shifted from Kedarnath Temple to Ukhitmath and is worshipped there. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector, and the destroyer, and it's believed that a journey to Kedarnath provides one “Moksha" or salvation. Set amidst the snow-clad mountains near Chorabari Glacier with Mandakini River flowing in front of it, Kedarnath witnesses lakhs of devotees every year due to its religious significance.
The present Kedarnath Temple is believed to be re-constructed by AdiShankaracharya, initially built by the Pandavas thousand years ago from enormous stone slabs over a large rectangular dais.
Perched on the Garhwal hill tracks, near Alaknanda River, Badrinath is situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Badrinath is known for the sacred Badrinath Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage yatras and is one of the most visited pilgrimages in India. Placed between Nar and Narayan mountain ranges, Badrinath Temple is situated in the backdrop of the mighty Neelkanthmountain and is known for stunning natural beauty.
Situated at the height of 10,279 feet, the Badrinath Temple is believed to be originally established by the saint, AdiShankaracharya. The temple houses a black stone idol of Lord Vishnu which is 1m tall and is considered to be one of the 8 swayamvyaktakshetras or self-manifested statues of Vishnu. It also finds its mention in the 108 DivyaDesams devoted to Lord Vishnu in India.
Badrinath Temple remains closed for six months from November to April each year. The temple is closed for worship on the auspicious day of bhatridwityia in October. On the day of the closure, an AkhandaJyoti lamp is lit to last for six months and the image of Badrinath is transferred to Narasimha temple at Jyotirmath. Badrinath reopens on Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in April every year.
Badrinath Temple has a Tapt Kund, a hot sulphur spring which is considered to have medicinal values. River Alaknanda is known to originate from here. The vibrant festivals of Mata MurtiKaMela and the BadriKedar Festival give you another reason to visit the temple. Badrinath is accessible by road and therefore driving up to this pilgrim spot is not difficult.
This pilgrimage destination situated in Uttarkashi is mostly famous for the four religious centers, or as they say, the Char Dham spots.
Mythological stories will have you believe that following King Bhagirathi's penance spread over centuries, Goddess Ganga transformed herself into a river to wash away the sins his forefathers. Lord Shiva then gathers Ganga into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall, and ever since the Himalayan glacier from which Ganga emerges has also been called Bhagirathi. Ganga derives its name after the river passes Devprayag and merges into the river Alaknanda."
Revered as the origin of Yamuna river, the pilgrim centre (among one of the 'Chhota Char Dham') nestled in the laps of Garhwal Himalayas at 3293 mts high uses its natural elements to fascinate you with its visuals and create a spiritual charm.
This sacred home of sage Asti is surrounded by undulating peaks, Himalayan glaciers and thermal springs. Hindu mythologies hail Yamuna as the sister of Yama- the God of Death, and it is believed that a bath in Yamuna can make death painless. It appeals to all sorts of tourist from the pilgrims, to the ones in search of a romantic destination as well as adventure enthusiasts who are sure to find abundance of thrill and excitement in its grand and awe inspiring sceneries, given the location.