Tourism in Uttrakhand (The Land of Gods)


Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. Rishikesh, a major centre for yoga study, was made famous by the Beatles’ 1968 visit. The city hosts the evening Ganga Aarti, a spiritual gathering on the sacred Ganges River. The state’s forested Jim Corbett National Park shelters Bengal tigers and other native wildlife.

Rig Veda, the most ancient of the scriptures says, ‘there is no happiness for him who does not travel. The fortune of him who is sitting sits, it rises when he rises, it sleeps when he sleeps, it moves when he moves. Therefore, Wander!’

A major portion of human history has been created by travels – treatises and historical accounts are filled with stories of men who travelled to conquer, to convert, to trade, to plunder and most importantly to quench their curiosity. Every mountain and ocean stimulated human curiosity to see and know beyond the mundane. This unremitting beckoning upset their sleep and logic but invigorated their fancies. The obsession for the unknown was an indivisible element of those fancies and humans, as always, have been known to live and die for them.

Now, in the changed circumstances of the 21st century people still travel mostly when they get tired of routine circumstances or to put it more starkly whenever they find spare time from their demanding and hectic routines. There could be scores of other motives as well. Whatever may the motivation be, it is a truth that every journey does detune and retune one’s intimate self. A whole lot ensues between embark and disembark. Some strings get tightened and some get loosened.

Every journey begins though with certain expectations.

The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board invites you to take up a journey to the state of Uttarakhand. We can confidently promise a couple of things. All your expectations would be met and the amazingly diverse and beautiful state would open up countless inconceivable dimensions of travel that might never even have occurred to you.

If you were to describe a simple word such as ‘beauty’ the Uttarakhand experience might leave you stranded for words. Beauty is so inherent to almost all things Uttarakhand stands for – the magnanimous Himalayas, the holiest of the rivers, the spiritual mystery, stunning landscapes, the incessantly colorful play of nature, enchanting history carved in ancient stones, a mesmerizing floral and faunal plethora and the simplest of the people. Myths, anecdotes and stories are part of every visual that unfolds itself to the eyes of the beholder.

It was thus not a mere coincidence that Charles A. Sherring, the celebrated 19th century British anthropologist and surveyor noted down in his highly acclaimed work ‘Western Tibet and British Borderland’ – “In those lovely valleys there is still the romance and poetry of life: each tree has its god, each bush its spirit” – Mr. Sherring was describing a fair part of Uttarakhand.

It was also not another coincidence that after his first visit to Uttarakhand Mahatma Gandhi could not restrain himself from alluding the region as ‘the Switzerland of India’.

The age-old Hindu traditions have always accorded highest esteem to the glory of the colossal and composed heights of the Himalayas which are spontaneously assumed to be the chosen consecrated residences of Gods. A whole lot of the Hindu lore sets out from this ‘Land of the Gods’.

Pilgrimages to these heights dating back to more than 1500 years are found recorded in authentic documents and Uttarakhand still attracts millions of devout people who come here with the chaste objective of spiritual emancipation and revelation.

Today, these mountains are no longer restricted to the religious or the spiritual – as a traveler one can get pleasure from mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing or simply strolling amongst the highest mountainous terrains in the world.

The winter months lay vast and expansive snow-carpets as the slopes, which turn into playgrounds for adventurous snow-revelers to ski amongst the most beautiful of surroundings. Come spring and the land begins to ooze of nascent life with frozen springs making way for the singsong of unsullied streams, waiting buds coming to full blossom creating an outburst of million hues with as many colorful butterflies and insects joining in the chorus. The spring season of Uttarakhand would make you comprehend and probably redefine the word Harmony.

The streams that originate in the deepest hideaways of the glorious Himalayas of Uttarakhand flow on to feed rivers which have nourished a civilization that has been born and brought up in the Indo-Gangetic soil of the country. These rivers are not just water bodies of enormous proportions, but are also impressive streams commanding worship and reverence with their source in the holy crevices where gods and goddesses reside. The water from the holiest of all Hindu rivers, the Ganga, is believed to wash away and purge the body, mind and soul of all impurity.

The lush green forests of this region are home to an astounding multiplicity of flora and fauna, some of which fall into the category of endangered species. The wildlife bursts with hundreds and thousands of species, making an exploratory trip to Uttarakhand even more exciting, in the light of the fact that many species are yet to be discovered.

World-renowned mountains and wildlife institutes, national parks and forest reserves in this region pursue scientific research putting in enormous efforts to preserve and protect the land’s bounty, encouraging people to participate in this noblest of causes.

A description of the charismatic beauty of Uttarakhand would be incomplete without the mention of people who inhabit this blessed country – simple, willing to help and hardworking people of the state are as diversified as the elements of nature. Several indigenous tribal groups peacefully co-exist with others, simultaneously keeping their distinct cultures alive. Apart from being a unique tourism destination, Uttarakhand is a goldmine for anthropologists, historians, ornithologists, linguists, geologists … you name the discipline and the state has something on offer.

No words can ever be enough to perfectly describe this blessed land. The incredulous variety of experiences – both spiritual and sensory – goes beyond any language or dialect. The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board humbly invites you to this divinely blissful and fantastic jewel of Mother Nature’s treasure-chest with a promise that no promise would go unfulfilled.