Uttaranchal The Land Of Celestial Beauty
Nested in the picturesque western Himalayan Uttaranchal is a kaleidoscope of breathtaking beauty, nature, adventure, wildlife, religion, culture and people. This land of celestial beauty has been blessed with magnificent glaciers, majestic now-clad mountains, gigantic peaks, valley of flowers, skiing slopes and dense forests. This abode of the Gods includes many a shrine and places of pilgrimage. Char-Dham, the four most sacred and revered Hindu temples; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri are huddled in these Mighty Mountains.
Nestled in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Dehradun is the capital of Uttaranchal. It is one of the most beautiful places in the submountain tracts of India and known for its scenic surroundings. Approx. 34 kms from this capital is Mussoorie, a fascinating hill station commanding a wonderful view of the extensive Himalayan range to the north-east and Doon valley to the south. Mussoorie, called the "Queen of the Hills", is one of the most popular summer destinations in the northern hills. Mussoorie is also a favourite base for trekkers, as the options are unlimited and not bound by any season.
Rishikesh, the ‘place of sages’ is a much-celebrated spiritual town on the bank of the Ganges and is surrounded by the shivvalik range of the Himalayas on the three sides. It is the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrimage of the Hindus, where pilgrims travel to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath & Badrinath to seek spiritual salvation. For the adventurous, Rishikesh serves as the hub for white water rafting excursions and trekking expeditions toward the Himalayan peaks.
Within panoramic Kumaon lies the enchanting district of Nainital. Its verdant valleys, Rolling Meadows and crystal lakes have beckoned nature lovers time and again. Dotted with enchanting lakes, Nainital has earned the epithet of ‘Lade District’ of India. The most prominent of these being the Naini Lake ringed by hills and named after the Goddess Naina Devi.
India’s first and finest part spread over 520 sq. kms. Along the banks of the Ramganga river and situated in the foothills of the Himalayas is the Corbett National Park. Corbett is regarded as one of the true bird parks of the world. Out of the 2,060 species and subspecies of birds recorded in the Indian subcontinent, over 600 species / subspecies of birds have been found in Corbett at one time or another. This number is greater than the total number of bird species found in Europe and represents around one fourth of the total diversity found in India.
European bird-watchers are some of the keenest visitors to the reserve during the winters when the bird diversity is at its peak
Haridwar is the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Uttaranchal and is also the starting point of the journey to the sacred sources of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. Though all Hindu festivals are celebrated with immense pomp and gaiety, it is the Kumbh Mela that attracts the mind of any tourist to this place. The Arudh Kumbh is held every six years and the Kumbh Mela, six years after that. It is said that a dip in the river Ganges during the Kumbh and Ardh Mela’s gives one Moksha or Nirvana.
The picturesque district of Almora is a fine blend of mountain beauty, ancient cultural influences, thickly wooded forests, scenic valleys, quaint cottages and gushing river… inspiring one to call it the ‘Switzerland of India’.
The district is adorned with garden orchards and provides a spectacular view of the Himalayas. Ranikhet, on the main road to Almora has one of the best 9-hole golf courses in the area and is surrounded by lush pine forests.
Standing 1,890 meters above the sea level Kausani is nature’s own reserve. Several snowcapped peaks stand in a stately row, over 300 kms in length, shining against the azure sky making the horizon as seen from the din and dust, hustle and bustle of big cities and wish to spend a quiet holiday in the lap of nature.
Laying at an altitude of 3,584 meters on the head of river Mandakani, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrim site for the Hindus. The present temple – an imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks is a must see all tourists. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architecture Kedarnath temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old.
If Mother Nature has ever smiled on earth, it must have been in Chamoli-the enchanting land in the arms of the Himalayas. During the monsoons, a thousand blooms burst forth in all brilliance in the fascinating "valley of flowers". Untouched by the pollution and rigmarole of urban life, Chamoli waits to open vistas of Nature in its pristine glory.
Guarded on either side by the two mountains Nar and Narayan, the Neelkanth Peak provides a splendid backdrop to Badrinath, one of the ‘Four Dhams’. This is one of the most celebrated pilgrim spots in the country and plays host to the famous Badrinath Temple. What is most unique about this beautiful district is the Valley of Flowers. Busting with exotic, lively and vibrant colours, this park spread over an area of 87.5 kms has the largest collection of wild flowers like the Himalayan blue poppy, daisy, white and yellow anemones bloom and swing with life during the monsoons.
The hills of Uttaranchal have all the ingredients for an adventure packed with excitement and thrills. Garhwal Himalayas beckons adventure enthusiasts with its rivers, snow-clad peaks, lakes, flora and fauna. The snow - covered slopes of Auli are ideal for snow skiing in the winters. The thrill of snow skiing can only be matched by white water rafting at Kaudiyala. An upcoming water sports resort at Assan Barrage offers water skiing, boating, rowing, canoeing and kayaking. Trekking is a favourite activity taken up by practically all age groups. There are different treks catering to different age groups throughout the year. And the wildlife at Chilla and Dhikala is a virtual feats for nature lovers.
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