Uttarakhand, formerly known as Uttaranchal also known as “Dev Bhoomi ”, Dev Bhoomi is a Hindi word that means “land of gods”. Uttarakhand has numerous temples and pilgrimage sites which find their mentions in many Hindu Vedic texts and mythological books. Uttarakhand is located in the foothills of the Himalayas also known for its natural beauty and environment in the north part of India. It is bordered by Nepal and Tibet and also with two Indian states Himachal and Uttar Pradesh.
In fact, Uttarakhand was earlier part of Uttar Pradesh, after separation on 9th Nov 2000 it was known as Uttaranchal later on it was renamed Uttarakhand on 01 January 2007. The state is divided into two divisions i.e. Garhwal and Kumaon. Uttarakhand has 13 Districts. The winter capital of the Uttarakhand is Dehradun and Bhararisain, a town in Chamoli district, is the summer capital of Uttarakhand. The Uttarakhand High Court is located in the Nainital district.
THE DIVINE BEAUTY: UTTARAKHAND
Uttarakhand – A land of myths and legend, where every stone tells a story; a land where divine resides; a land whose beauty will make you feel the trance; the domain of the ascetic lord shiva, the destroyer; it is a land charged with “shakti”, the power and energy of the goddess Parvati, consort of Shiva and the daughter of Himavat, lord of the mountains.
Merely these lines will not justify the beauty and sanctity of devbhoomi. We need to travel back to dive deep into this state. We pick up the story About 250 million years ago, the popular continental drift took place. During this time, all the earth’s land was a single supercontinent called Pangea, which was surrounded by a large ocean. Around 200 million years ago, an extensive sea stretched along the latitudinal area presently occupied by the Himalayas. this sea was named the Tethys.
Around this period, the supercontinent Pangea began to gradually split into different landmasses and move apart in different directions. As a result, rivers from both the northern Eurasian landmass (called the Angara) and the southern Indian landmass (called Gondwana) started depositing large amounts of sediments into the shallow sea that was the Tethys. The two landmasses, the Eurasian and the Indian sub-continent, moved closer and closer.
All this led to the mountain-building process. mountain building phases occurred as the Indian plate pushed against the Eurasian plates which led to the Himalayan ranges rising further.
Because of the Tethys ocean, the marine origin of the Himalayas is known. Thus, making it rich in marine fossils and when this Himalayan permafrost melts they make the origin of Ganga at Gomukh. Without a doubt, the Ganga has self-cleansing and special healing properties. It’s not simple water but nectar. You must have observed Ganga water at your home kept for many years. Still, it remains the same. Do you know why? This antibacterial property of Ganga is due to the factor called biophages.
These biophages are a good source of medication and healing. Uttarakhand is blessed to have these biophages in abundance provided the origin and long stretch of holy Ganga within the state boundary. Uttarakhand aims to promote its usage for biophages therapy which can help people in curing and healing severe diseases.
And this Himalaya also gave Uttarakhand, Mount Meru. A mountain that stands in the center of the universe is the axis of the world and is the abode to god. This heavenly abode is situated at the Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand, we all know that the supreme power, the lord shiva use to dwell at mount Kailash and this mount Kailash is a physical incarnation of Mount Meru.
Uttarakhand is a section( khand) of the central part of the Himalayas, due to which it is now called Uttarakhand, for this very holy land, the gods also yearn, provided these facts, it’s just the beginning of knowing how divine this state is.
Devbhoomi has been integrated with many shrines, with many sacred forests, adorned with thousands of Shivlings, covered with various rivers and streams, proud to witness the confluence of many sacred rivers and adorned with various peeths. Many places have been called pilgrimage but they all consume this Kedar Mandal le. Uttarkhand while doing penance in idolized form.
This devbhoomi is also called the city of Pilgrimages. Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, dharmashastras, and poetry of great Sanskrit poets propound the importance of these pilgrimages.
MYTHOLOGICAL STORIES WOVEN AROUND UTTARAKHAND
THE QUEST FOR SANJEEVANI
As the Ramayana goes, Lord Ram’s brother Lakshman was wounded in a battle after which Hanuman was asked to bring ‘Sanjeevani’ (an elusive all-curing herb) from the Himalayas. Hanuman lifted Dronagiri after he failed to trace ‘Sanjeevani’. This is going to be added to the Ramayana Circuit for the tourists. It’s a known fact that holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna, originate from this Devbhoomi but very few know about yet another holy river that finds its mention at various times in Ramayana. Saryu originated from Nanda Kot mountain in Bageshwar district, Uttarakhand.
RAJA DAKSH AND SATI
Kankhal, Haridwar, is considered to be Lord Shiva’s in-laws’ home because Daksheshwar Maharaj’s daughter (Goddess Sati) was married to Lord Shiva and Daksheshwar Maharaj used to reside in this place. Daksheshwar Maharaj had once organized a yagya and invited all the gods and goddesses to this yagya but Daksheshwar Maharaj did not invite Lord Shiva. Knowing this, Lord Shiva’s wife Sati was very sad and after coming to the same yagya, Lord Shiva’s wife Sati left her body.
From this point, Virbhadra (who is considered to be the gotra form of Lord Shiva) separated Daksheshwar Maharaj from his head. But Lord Shiva donated life to Daksheshwar Maharaj and he put “goat’s head” on the severed head of Daksheshwar Maharaj and Lord Shiva promised Daksheshwar Maharaj that the name of the place he resides, will always be associated with his name, hence there is a temple named “Daksheshwar Mahadev Temple” in Haridwar.
DRONA NAGRI – GURU DRONACHARYA
Guru Dronacharya, the ace archer, the Guru of Pandavas did penance for 12 years in a cave near Dehradun in Uttarakhand. That cave is now at Tapkeshwar Temple. Apart from the cave, there is Drona Sagar lake, which is believed to have been created by Pandavas as a Guru Dakshina to him.
PANDAVAS JOURNEY TO HEAVEN
As the legend goes, after the Pandavas defeated and killed their cousins the Kauravas in the epic Kurukshetra war (Mahabharat), they wished to atone for the sins of committing fratricide and killing of Brahmins during the war. Thus, they handed over the regins of their kingdom to their kin and left in search of the god Shiva and to seek his blessings. But, Shiva was hurt with this war and assumed the form of a Nandi and hid in the Garhwal region to avoid Pandavas. Pandavas saw a bull grazing near Guptkashi while searching for Shiva.
Bhima immediately recognized the bull to be Shiva. Bhima caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the bull formed Shiva disappeared into the ground to later reappear in parts, with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tungnath, the nabhi and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheshwar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and head appearing in Kalpeshwar. As Pandavas were pleased by these reappearances, they built a temple over here and these are the Panch Kedar.
After building the Panch Kedar temples, the Pandavas meditated at Kedarnath for salvation, performed yagna, and then through the heavenly path called the Mahapanth( Swargarohini)attained heaven. It’s believed that during their final ascent toward heaven, they passed the village Mana( The last Indian village).
THE LONGEST EPIC TALE
Mahabharata, the important mythological tale was written in this land of Gods. Mana, The last Indian village has witnessed the writing of this epic tale. Vyas Pothi – a cave, where Ved Vyas used to reside in Mana. This place is just three km away from the Badrinath shrine. There is one more Ved Vyas cave in Kalapani Valley, where it is believed that he meditated here for some time. This valley is also referred to as Vyas Valley. Pandukeshwar Temple is also one of the places in connection with Mahabharata. To promote this, the state will add this planning to add all these places to The Mahabharata Circuit.
These are just a very few mythological incidents. Uttarakhand has witnessed way too many mythological legends and stories. This place is just not about the mystic vibe, the mythology, the legendary tales. The charismatic beauty of Uttarakhand is not hidden. Every place in Uttarakhand will make you fall in love with it. The surreal landscape, The generous Himalayas, The stunning view, The colorful play of nature, the Origin of the holiest rivers, the lip-smacking traditional food, the enchanting history carved in ancient stones, and lastly the most important- its simple inhabitants; everything will draw you to this place.
Uttarakhand Must Visit Places
We all yearn to go to places away from the bustling world of the city. The place where serene nature can be felt, the place where there are many things to explore, the place which will offer you a lifetime memory and experience: not some old commercialized tourist flocked places. And Uttarakhand is a host to multiple of this offbeat destinations which you should definitely explore.
Known as the ski resort of India, this place has everything that you as a tourist would want. If you want to witness nature in all its glory and splendor. Auli is a place to be. Dotted with apple orchards, oak, meadows will make you come to this place again and again. A panoramic view of Himalayan peaks like Kamet, Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, and Mana Parvat can be experienced from Auli. The highest and longest ropeway in Asia after Gulmarg, Auli cable car connects this place to Joshimath.
Skiing in Auli is a must-have experience for you. The month from December to March makes it a perfect destination for skiing lovers. There is a commencement of the national skiing championship by GMVN in the month of December. GMVN conducts 7 days non-certificate, 14 days certificate, basic, intermediate, and advanced courses at Auli.
To promote the interest of people towards skiing. Considering the climatic condition and global warming, many times there is no snowfall, so to rectify this and continue the spirit towards this sport, Uttarakhand is planning to get the skiing field filled with the powdered snow so that more and more people could come and have this amazing experience. He is also planning to get international companies involved in this so that tourists can experience various snow activities like the Russian Ballet Skating ring, a Disneyland concept to attract kids, and much more.
A very short trek but a trek filled with memorable experiences, a trek of just 3 km from Auli will lead you to a verdant meadow of Gorson. This place is locally called Gorson Bugyal, Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The trekking may Seem tiring but it is totally worth it after you reach this scenic place. Being snow-covered in winters, this place can be widely used for many international ski events.
Uttarakhand is working toward connecting Auli to Gorson Bugyal via cable. car. So, that no one misses out on this natural treasure and has fun doing all the snow-related activities.
It’s very important for everybody to be well acquainted with our history, specially the young generation. Uttarakhand is privileged to have important historic sites Lakhudiyar, which is a small cave shelter preserving the scenes and activities of the primitive inhabitants of the region, which according to archaeologists belong to the Old Stone Age to the Neo Stone Age. This place is situated in the Almora district of Uttarakhand Since people are very less aware of this site in Uttarakhand, it remains less explored.
Making Uttarakhand One-Stop Tourist Destination
Situated amidst the Himalayas, this state is one of the most beautiful northern states that captivates tourists. Being one of the favorite tourist destinations, Uttarakhand surely needs the right amount of managing and handling in the tourism department. And no doubt, the tourism sector has seen exponential growth.
Talking about the tourism sector, the vision is very clear to make Uttarakhand place at the top of the tourist destinations list. To promote tourism in the hill state, the state has already taken various initiatives and many more significant projects are in progress. Uttarakhand has segregated the tourism sector into religious, adventure, culinary and tribal. So that Uttarakhand tourism gets an all-around attraction. It does not become only the favorite destination of the pilgrims but to cater to each and every category of tourists.
For promoting the state as the first choice for adventure seekers, he is putting in a lot of effort to develop the places like Tehri, Nayar Ghati, Marchula as adventure sports destinations for tourism. The state is also working toward developing other lakes.
Considering a lot of potential at Tehri lake with respect to tourism, his vision is to develop this lake as one of the international water sports destinations. Be it the Tehri lake festival, the planning to land a seaplane there or the floating huts, all his vision will popularize Tehri as the most sought-after location among tourists. This will not just boost tourism but also become a valuable source for the livelihood of local residents.
A Door That Leads to EMPLOYMENT
An all-around development of a state can only take place with the development of its residents. The state tourism department is well acquainted with this fact and has taken various measures to improve their economic condition by providing self-employment to the local people. Apart from creating employment, these initiatives will help to stop migration from the state.
Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Tourism Self-Employment Yojana Under this scheme, Subsidies will be provided on the purchase of electric buses or other vehicles. This subsidy will be used to improve public transport, which will benefit unemployed citizens. A provision has been made by the government to give subsidies to the beneficiaries to buy electric buses and other vehicles as before. In the case of non-vehicle, applicants will be given a rebate in mountainous areas and a provision has been made to give subsidies in plain areas.
Deendayal Upadhyaya Griha Awas Vikas Yojana Under the scheme, residents of Uttarakhand will be able to get income by converting their vacant house or land into a homestay. With this scheme of the government, self-employment opportunities will be available in the hilly areas.
But to avail of this scheme there are certain terms and conditions:
1. The owner or his family need to be physically present at the building
2. You need to register your building under the homestay scheme.
3. Maximum of 6 rooms can be provided for the tourists.
These self-employment schemes, implemented in Uttarakhand, are not only helpful in the development of tourism-related infrastructure and transport facilities, but also in providing self-employment to the local people and making them self-reliant. Through this, an important achievement of Uttarakhand tourism is being proved.
Accessbility to Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand has worked a lot in this arena of connectivity. The state vision is to make all the tourist destinations easily accessible to the tourist. To attract tourists from all over the world he wishes to develop an International Airport at Haridwar. This will give a huge amount of boost to tourism. As Haridwar is one of the most sacred places and a major pilgrimage site, it draws thousands of tourists here. This place is also known for the Hindu rituals for the departed in the family. One such ritual is the Asthi Visarjan or the immersion of a deceased person’s ashes and bones in the flowing waters of a holy Ganges.
But there is a large number of challenges faced by non-resident Indians, across the globe in their need to fulfill their religious obligation of Asthi Visarjan for their dearly departed family members. With this international airport, the ritual will become more doable for the people in this sacred place.
Also, Uttarakhand has urged the center to improve the connectivity which can help the state to further boost tourism. Uttarakhand is, not only thinking about connecting the state to the world but also concerned with the connectivity and development of India. Apart from an international airport, the state wishes that our country should have an international railway station. This will not only make a journey feasible for people but also promote harmony between nations. Some connectivity routes can be Nepal- Janakpur-Ayodhya or from Gorakhpur to Kathmandu.
The state is also planning to launch bikes on rent. So that it becomes easy for tourists to travel across the city and can have the very enticing option of renting a bike and getting around the place on their own! Self-riding bike rentals offer you the freedom to go where you choose when you choose and will help you explore the city.
In addition, the state has the vision to develop existing railway stations and airports to correspond to the level of foreign countries. State Govt. feels that these existing stations and airports can be well used for commercial purposes as well such places can include the cafeteria, the commercial arena and much more to be the right source of revenue as well.
UNDER THE STARS PROJECT- AN EXEMPLARY VISION
Sleeping under the stars sounds beautiful. You can simply relax in a tranquil and serene environment. This amazing experience is felt when you opt for camping and Uttarakhand is a host to multiple camping sites, state uses this idea is to use this as an opportunity to not only attract tourists and give them a memorable experience of gazing at stars but also using this as an opportunity to create employment for the inhabitants. The people of the localities, especially the youth would be trained on the campgrounds and their management. So that they can assist tourists who visit the campsite.
Carry on the old traditional legacy, India has an old age tradition of children massaging their parent’s legs and feet as a symbol of service. humility and love. Even, Lord Rama used to do foot massages of his father. The doors to the body’s interior pharmacy are underneath your feet. In the Vedas, the feet are referred to as organs of action. They are the body’s foundation and carry us through the day amongst many terrains and stressors. After a tiring trek of high-altitude temples and mountains, the tourists can opt for an Ayurvedic foot Massage.
This can reduce stress, activate our immune system, and even heal our body, mind, and consciousness. We can train and hire people who know how to treat various ailments by applying pressure and allto points on the feet that correspond to the troubled body part. This project will not only benefit tourists but also spread the word about our rich Ayurveda.
FINANCIAL AID FOR WELFARE
This Covid pandemic has impacted every sector of the economy, mainly the tourism sector, and as a result also the people. associated with it. So to make their condition better and help them out, the state has initiated a special relief package worth Rs 250 Crones, which has been approved.
Satpal Maharaj, tourism minister, Uttrakhand also held a historic meeting with the union energy minister Shri Rajkumar Singh, regarding the rehabilitation of 415 displaced families affected by the Tehri dam project. The compensation amount of a total of Rs.252 crores has been provided by him. He also said the affected families would be given a cash amount on the basis of the current prevailing price for the damaged building as well.
SUMMER CAPITAL GAIRSAIN
Satpal Maharaj is the one who urged the need for central assistance to construct another Legislative Assembly of Uttrakhand at Gairsain. He was the one who urged the need for another Vidhan sabha at Gairsain, he made people understand the need for another Vidhansabha similar to other states such as Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra & Jammu & Kashmir. to ensure the compilation of Vidhansabha Bhawan at the earliest, he gave an amount of Rs. 88 Crores.
The Devbhoomi is also blessed to have biodiversity in abundance. The expanded greenery has served as an excellent habitat for wildlife. It is home to India’s first national park Jim Corbett National park: This is popular for a vast variety of flora and fauna. And this national park hosted our very own prime minister Shri Narendra Modi with Bear Grylls. To give a push to the tourism sector, our tourism minister has decided to develop the name of the trek undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and adventurer Bear Grylls as Modi Trail
CREATING SERVICE PROVIDERS
The tourists come in contact with various service providers and it is this experience they have while interacting with them that governs their experience in Uttarakhand. As the influx of tourists increases, we need to have more quality service providers. Uttarakhand is encouraging to create more service providers who are well acquainted with their service skills
Uttarakhand in Bollywood
The backdrop of Uttarakhand makes it an ideal location for the shoots. Not only the location, Uttarakhand’s culture, people, and tribes can also be a suitable protagonist for any movie. Well-versed with this fact, Uttarakhand is initiating to get in touch with Bollywood film producers and directors to develop film projects on Uttarakhand’s prominent personalities and also the unique ethnic Tharu and Bhoksa tribe. Uttarakhand has so many interesting stories to share with the world.
One such story, which people would really find captivating is the story of a man from this Devbhoomi – Pandit Nain Singh Rawat. He was one of the first Indian explorers to survey the trade route through Ladakh to Tibet, determined the location and altitude of Lhasa in Tibet, and surveyed a large section of Brahmaputra. An interesting fact is that he walked “1,580 miles, or 3,160,000 paces, each counted.
THE CULTURAL EXCHANGE HOMESTAY- Uttarakhand
It is well aware of the fact that the idea of travel isn’t restricted to visiting top attractions of a destination. There are tourists who look for experiences that can be cherished lifelong. They want vacations – a lot of them – that allow insights into life, culture, and traditions of the mountains. While we are filled with luxury hotels and resorts, to give that enriching experience to our tourists, we have the amazing facilities of homestay.
The local inhabitants are aware of the importance of lending their homes for the homestay of tourists. As this will not only give a deep insight to the tourists about our culture, and traditions, but also become a good source of livelihood for the local residents of hilly areas.
There are various homestay options amidst the overwhelming mountains and sparkling greenery. Rooms are very comfortable, cozy, and clean with everything that you can possibly need. And the most important hospitality! Warm and extremely informative, everyone here is very helpful and it’s best to ask them for places around to have the village life experience. You can also have a taste of the local cuisines. The homestay personifies the silence.
The idea behind these homestays is to acquaint the tourists with the state’s cuisine, culture, historical heritage, and traditional / Pahari style.
Taste of Uttarakhand : All About Uttarakhand Foods
From rich culture to tranquility-driven hill towns, beauty comes in many forms in Uttarakhand. One more form is The food. Whether it’s Garhwali, Kumaoni, or Jaunsari Food, the state’s traditional food will leave you wanting more. These dishes come straight from the heart of Uttarakhand. ‘Ghar ka Khana’ feels come only from the food of Uttarakhand. The savory delight of this state can be tasted at many five-star restaurants and dhabas as well. So, don’t miss out on the special Uttarakhand Thali, offering the state’s traditional delicaciesUttarakhand is home to many such destinations where it’s only you and nature. These places will not only revitalize you but soothe your soul. These include: Kausani, Munsiyari, Jageshwar, Dodital, Chopta, Binsar, Harsil, Chaukori, Lohaghat. Peora, Pangot. Nelang valley and much more. This list would seem endless, So to know more about locations, pack your bags and visit Uttarakhand.
Not only for the love of nature but also if you always keep looking for some adrenaline rush, this place needs to be on your bucket list. From hiking, camping, hiking, rafting, or bungee jumping, Uttarakhand has everything for adventure enthusiasts. So, if your heart quenches for the escape from the city life and also for the delicacies made with love, Uttarakhand is the place to be.
Vedika Mishra, Editor in Chief, Discover Uttarakhand Magazine
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