To Uttarakhand, long called “abode of the gods” (Devbhumi), belong some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and for more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been visiting the region in the hopes of salvation and purification from sin. Gangotri and Yamunotri, the sources of both the Ganges and Yamuna fall in the upper reaches of the state and together with Badrinath (dedicated to Vishnu) and Kedarnath (dedicated to Shiva) form the Char Dham, one of Hinduism’s most spiritual and auspicious pilgrimage circuits. Haridwar, meaning “Gateway to God” is a prime Hindu destination. Haridwar hosts the Kumbha Mela every twelve years, in which millions of pilgrims take part from all parts of the India and the world. Rishikesh near Haridwar is known as the preeminent yoga centre of India. The state has an abundance of temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or manifestations of Shiva and Durga, references to many of which can be found in Hindu scriptures and legends.
The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, hiking and rock climbing in India. A recent development in adventure tourism in the region has been white water rafting and other adventures sports. Eco tourism, agritourism and rural tourism have also found new grounds in many villages of the state.
Place of Interest: Mussoorie: popularly known as the Queen of Hills, this charming hill station, 34 kms from Dehradun is situated at an altitude of 2003 mts in the Garhwal hills. above sea-level. Mussoorie is one the beautiful hill stations in India and the most frequently visited. It provides excellent respite to people who want relief from the hot sultry conditions of the plains, especially since it is close enough to the capital to make just weekend trip. Also, major Hindu pilgrimage sites like Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Haridwar, Rishikesh are not far from this place.
Haridwar: Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. According to the Samudra manthan, Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad is one of four sites where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. This is manifested in the Kumbha Mela being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. Amidst the Kumbha Mela, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganges to wash away their sins to attain Moksha. Brahma Kund, the spot where the Amrit fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally, ‘footsteps of the Lord’) and is considered to be the most sacred ghat of Haridwar.
Kedarnath and Badrinath: is popular destination for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world, being one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage.
Rishikesh: The city is in Dehradun district. It is located in the foothills of the Himalaya in northern India and attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year, from within India, as well as from other countries. Rishikesh is a vegetarian city by law, as well as an alcohol-free city. Rishikesh is also known as ‘Teerth Nagri’ or ‘Yog Nagri’ or ‘Yoga City’, that is City of Temples, Yoga and Meditation
Hemkund: Hemkund is famous for the Sikh worship-place Gurudwara, known as Sri Hemkunt Sahib Ji, devoted to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, which finds mention in Dasam Granth, a piece of work narrated by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, himself. The lake also has a Lakhmana hut on its shore which was later built into proper small shrine by the Sikhs.
Valley of Flowers National Park: The Valley of Flowers is an outstandingly beautiful high-altitude Himalayan valley that has been acknowledged as such by renowned mountaineers and botanists in literature for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer. Its ‘gentle’ landscape, breathtakingly beautiful meadows of alpine flowers and ease of access complement the rugged, mountain wilderness for which the inner basin of Nanda Devi National Park is renowned. While trekking towards valley of flowers, one can experience the beauty of shining peaks fully covered with snow. One can also see the beautiful view of surrounding greenery and various running streams with crystal clear water. The valley is home to many celebrated flowers like the Brahmakamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily. It is a much sought after haunt for flower-lovers, botanists and of course trekkers, for whom a sufficient excuse to embark on a mission to reach a place, is that it exists.
Jim Corbett National Park: The Park is a haven for the adventure seekers and wildlife adventure lovers alike. Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of sal, haldu, pipal, rohini and mango trees, and these trees cover almost 73 per cent of the park. The 10 per cent of the area consists of grasslands.It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The endangered Bengal tiger of India resides here. The sanctuary was the first to come under Project Tiger initiative.
Gangotri Temple: Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Gangotri can be reached in one day’s travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yamunotri, the first site in the Char Dham circuit. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus, meaning that it sees many more pilgrims than Yamunotri.
Yamunotri: It is one of the four sites in India’s Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti (7 km. Away).