The holy pilgrimage of Char Dham Yatra is probably one of the most popular journeys in India undertaken by devout Hindus from all over the world. This journey ensures moksha or salvation to the people completing this treacherous testing circuit which will take you through the holy shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Nestled amidst the natural and bountiful beauty of the Garhw...
Devbhoomi Uttarakhand is the land of gods. Dressed in impeccable green beauty and crowned with the majestic Himalayas, Uttarakhand has always attracted peace seekers, people who are spiritually drawn as well as adventure lovers. From hosting the international yoga festival and attracting yoga enthusiasts from all over the world to being home to some of the most important places for pilgrimage and everything in between, this whimsical hill state continues to capture the hearts of its visitors.
Pertaining to a rich historical background, Uttarakhand has been immersed in legends and mythological accounts that adds an air of mystic to the place. Here are some mind-blowing interesting facts about Uttarakhand that will definitely catch you by surprise:
17 Amazing Facts about Uttarakhand
1. The Ancient Char Dham Pilgrimage
Uttarakhand has a very rich historical and religious background and pilgrimages make up for one of the most crucial parts of their traditions. The Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand is an important pilgrimage for devotees across the globe. The holy circuit covers the 4 ancient temples of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Each year, during the holy eve of Akshaya Tritiya, this pilgrimage opens up for Darshan which is also the peak time for Uttarakhand Tours. It shuts down during the autumn/winter months of late October or early November. Completing this pilgrimage will grant moksha or complete liberation from the karmic cycle of birth or rebirth.
2. Highest Shiva Temples In The World
Tungnath Mahadev in Rudraprayag district is the highest Shiva temple in the world. Established at an unknown time, the temple is located at an elevation of 12,100 feet above sea level overlooked by the stunning snow-capped Himalayan peaks. Being a part of the Panch Kedar Yatra, the first foundation of the temple is supposed to have been established by the Pandava brothers during their search for Lord Shiva. One kilometer ahead from the main temple is Chandrashila, another place of historical importance as it is believed that Ravana had meditated here.
3. Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Uttarakhand houses 2 of the most iconic heritage sites in the world. Valley of flowers national park and Nanda Devi National Park are the 2 heritage sites in Devbhoomi. Valley of flowers was an accidental discovery by ace mountaineer Frank Smythe. Rich in high altitude, Himalayan flora and fauna collection, Valley of flowers national park is now one of the most strictly protected national parks in India. The Nanda Devi National Park biosphere supports a diverse range of ecosystems, topography and relief features. Panning across a massive area of 15,600 acres, it houses the rishi Ganga gorge and also the 2nd highest peak in India.
4. Ancient Protected Tribal Communities
The hills of Uttarakhand have always been home to the local tribal population whose settlement dates back to centuries ago. Currently, 5 major tribes are very well protected here while the numerous others remain unnamed. These 5 major tribes have also been officially scheduled in the constitution of India in 1967. These 5 major tribes of Uttarakhand are Jaunsari, Bhotia, Buksha, Tharu, and Raji. They co-exist with the Buddhists, Sikhs, and other Hindu populations while sharing the same space in peace and harmony. The Muslim Gujjar herders have also found a space for themselves on the hills.
5. The International Yoga Festival
It was in Saptha Kund in Chamoli district that yoga was brought to this world. Adiyogi Shiva passed on his yogic knowledge to the Saptarishis during the ancient ages and the rest is history. Uttarakhand has been recognised as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Every year in March, Rishikesh turns host to the international yoga festivals that take place for a week in March. Yoga enthusiasts from all over the world visit Rishikesh during this time and indulge in a real spiritual yogic experience. The prime spot for this festival is the iconic Parmarth Niketan Ashram. However other ashrams and holy centres also host their own yoga experiences.
6. The First National Park in India
Located in the Nainital district and established in 1963 with the intention of protecting tigers, Jim Corbett national park is the first national park in India. Over time the wildlife population of Uttarakhand was dwindling and the British officials were concerned about it. In order to restore the balance of nature, they established this national park. This is one of the most well-managed national parks in India and a habitat for a diverse range of ecosystems. It was also the first national park to be included in the project tiger initiative in 1973. Currently, Jim Corbett is famous for its jeep safaris and wildlife sighting experiences.
7. Land of the Holy Rivers
Rivers are considered to be life-givers and sources of living in Uttarakhand. The rivers of Uttarakhand are worshipped by the locals. They hold a very important place in their hearts. There are numerous mythological accounts associated with them. 2 of the holiest rivers in India, Ganga, and the Yamuna, originate in this hill state. Finding their source at the glaciers in high-altitude regions, these rivers gush through the Indian landscape where they are worshipped and honoured by performing elaborate Aarti rituals. Devotees also take holy dips and perform final rites in these rivers in order to cleanse their souls and sins.
8. 2nd Highest Peak in India
Kanchenjunga is the highest peak in India while the 2nd highest peak in India is Nanda devil which is located in Uttarakhand. It is also the 23rd highest peak in the world. The Nanda Devi National Park has been included in the UNESCO world heritage list in order to protect its fragile ecosystem. It also holds immense religious and spiritual significance for the locals who worship the peak as the bless-giving goddess. After several unsuccessful attempts and crossing numerous hindrances, Nanda Devi Peak was first climbed by ace mountaineer Eric Shipton and his team through the Rishi gorge in 1934.
9. Tallest Dam In India
Standing tall at a towering height of 855 feet, Tehri Dam is the tallest dam in India and the 12th tallest in the world. With a planned installed capacity of 2400MW, the dam is also the biggest hydroelectric power plant in India. The Tehri Dam reservoir holds water for irrigation, municipal water supply and power generation making it an indispensable part of the people residing in this region. It is known for harnessing water from 2 of the most important rivers of Uttarakhand that are: Bhagirathi and Bhilangana.
10. Sanskrit Is One of the Official Languages
Uttarakhand is home to numerous tribes and communities who converse and understand different languages. Although largely the population interacts with each other in either Garhwali or Kumaoni, the 2nd official language of the state is Sanskrit while Hindi is the 1st official language. Under article 345 of the Indian constitution, the Uttarakhand legislative assembly passed a proposal to make Hindi the official language and Sanskrit the 2nd official language. This is done to preserve the culture of India.
11. Origin State of the Iconic Chipko Movement
The locals of Uttarakhand are dedicated towards nature conservation. They worship nature and all the gods and goddesses associated with it. It is not only a source of livelihood for them and their livestock but it is their home that they love and respect deeply. Keeping this attitude alive, in 1970 the people of Uttarakhand came together in starting this nonviolent, social and ecological movement by the rural villagers. This was done to protect the trees that were due for government-backed logging projects. This movement became iconic and the first step for many environment protection-related projects in the future.
Meditation place for Guru Gobind Singh Devbhoomi Uttarakhand is not only an important place of Hindu pilgrimage but it is also a major Sikh pilgrimage destination. Hemkund Sahib is situated in Chamoli district, on an elevation of 13,650 feet above sea level. This uniquely made Gurudwara offers incredible views of the surroundings and is also studded with a high-altitude lake where devotees can take a dip if they like. The place is important since it is believed that the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had meditated at that very spot. The trek up to the Gurdwara is extremely challenging and difficult for many people but that’s what makes it worth it.
12. A Thrilling Adventure Sports Destination
Uttarakhand is deeply rooted in its religious past and is one of the major hubs for spiritual experiences. However, adventure activities in Uttarakhand are a stark contrast to the otherwise religious destination. Owing to its incredible geography and unique relief features, Uttarakhand has attracted adventure lovers from all over the world. People go there for hiking, trekking, mountaineering, camping, river rafting, paragliding, bungee jumping etc. This makes Uttarakhand an extremely unique destination that offers the best of both worlds. These thrilling activities are a treat for adventure junkies looking to push their boundaries.
13. The Ghost Villages of Uttarakhand
People love going to the hills, but why are some villages in Uttarakhand not having any occupants? According to the 2011 census, there are over one thousand ghost villages across the 13 districts in Uttarakhand. These villages have abandoned homes and zero population. Over time, the people of Uttarakhand have migrated to the nearby big cities for better jobs, education, and opportunities. This is because the people here want to lead a peaceful life where they have the opportunity to make a standard living. In their search for better opportunities for their future, these villages are being abandoned without a second thought.
14. The Mini Ice Age of Rudraprayag
Did you know that the district of Rudraprayag had experienced a mini ice age of its own? The entire region, including the Kedarnath Dham Temple, was preserved in ice for over 400 years. The temple remains in a top-notch position even after it was hidden inside the glacier which is a true testament to the smart architecture of the temple. It is said that this little ice age lasted between the 14th to early 19th century. At this time it is impossible to imagine that one of the most important places of Shiva worship was once a part of the glacier.
15. Home to the Direct Descendants of Pandavas And Kauravas
Gracing the upper Garhwal Himalayan region is one of the most remote villages in India called Kalap. The people of Kapal claim to be the direct descendants of the Pandavas and Kauravas. The entire region is deeply steeped in mythological accounts of the epic Mahabharat. The main temple of the village is dedicated to the Kaurava warrior Karan. The warrior fighter is also celebrated during the Karan Maharaj Utsav that is held in this village every decade. During special occasions, the logical villagers also indulge in Pandav Nritya where they dance to the traditional music depicting various moments from Mahabharat.
16. Captures the Van Allen belt At Almora
The Van Allen belt is a zone of uniquely charged particles created by solar winds and exists only in 3 regions on earth according to the research done by NASA. One of these regions is at the Kasar Devi Temple in Almora. Due to the particles the aura experienced here makes meditation incredibly peaceful and calming. The Kasar Devi Temple is visited by major famous personalities like Swami Vivekananda. Peace seekers are guaranteed to have a deep relaxing experience at this place.
17. The Largest Telescope in India
Situated at the Nainital district is the 3.6m Devasthal optical telescope, which is famous for being the largest telescope in India. The optics and Instalment was done by a special team from Belgium and captures the spot for being the largest reflecting telescope in Asia. The telescope is technologically so advanced that it is the first one to feature an active optics system among other such one-of-a-kind features. It is good to learn that Uttarakhand is making huge strides and advancements in the field of research, science and technology.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Where To Do River Rafting In Uttarakhand?
Ans. Rishikesh is famous for its river rafting activities.
Q. Are There Helicopter Services Available For Char Dham Yatra?
Ans. Yes. The Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand has helicopter services.
Q. When Is The Best Time To Visit Uttarakhand?
Ans. To beat the summer heat the best time to visit is from March to early July. To experience Himalayan winters, it is best to visit during October to February.
Q. What Is The Capital Of Uttarakhand?
Ans. Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand.
Q. Which Are The Famous Festivals In Uttarakhand?
Ans. Holi, Diwali, Dussehra, Harela, Phooldei, Dikar Puja, Basant Panchami, Bhitauli, and Bat Savitri are some of the most famous festivals of Uttarakhand.